Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What's Behind the Bad Reputation of Red Meat?

There seems to be a lot of different opinions regarding how safe red meat is. I'm particularly curious to find out more about this, as I was thinking of incorporating red meat into my diet in order to bulk up [I've always had difficulty gaining mass]. Some people are now saying that the reason it has such a bad reputation is because some people were not buying lean cuts of meat and trimming excess fat from them. I would just like to get a few different opinions on this before I make a decision. -- Peter D.

Yes, red meat developed a bad reputation in the 1970's timed with the discovery that high intakes of cholesterol (later determined to actually be high intakes of saturated fat) lead to an increase in serum cholesterol level, which in turn was linked to an increase incidence of heart attacks.
Beef was bred to be very fatty during the mid 1900's, as the fat makes the meat more tender and flavorful. Now cattle are bred to be much leaner so we can enjoy beef without such a high fat intake.
The other issue is that men, who were the more common sufferers of heart attacks, commonly ate steaks that were 16 ounces or larger, ingesting an extremely high amount of fat and cholesterol at one sitting (perhaps over 100 grams of fat--more than you need in a day!). The recommended portion size for meat is just 3-4 ounces. People also ate beef frequently during the week in the 1950's through the '70's, and now recommendations are to include chicken and fish and other non-red meat dishes several times each week.

Red meat itself won't help you bulk up, by the way. You can add additional calories and protein to your diet through incorporating a variety of foods, and you will probably need to perform some regular weight training in order to see results if you are looking to increase your muscle mass.

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