What's the Deal with Meat?
Today I want to delve a little deeper, almost into a micro level and look at our diet element, specifically today, red meat. We talked to him a little bit last week about sugar and the need to eliminate it from our diet or least to get it under control. And I don’t think most of us would disagree with the need to limit our sugar intake, but as we focus on meat, you’re going to find lots of differing opinions on whether it’s good for us or not. I love meat. I love a good steak and I really love cheeseburgers.
I’ve been a fitness geek most of my adult life. This is the third podcast I’ve done since the very beginning of podcasting. My very first podcast, The Get Fit Pod over 150 episodes listened to worldwide back when there were probably only about 5% of the podcast that are available today. The Get Fit Pod, it was totally focused on fitness. And then I also created and did the Interval Training RX Podcast. I’m mentioning all these podcasts I did, my production history, my fitness history, mainly to setup what I’m going to tell you now.
Through all of those years of being a total fitness nut, meat was a significant part of my diet. I probably had meet at least once a day and, and cheeseburgers, they were my lunch staple. And 75% of the meat I ate came through the drive-through window as a cheeseburger with fries. Just talking about cheeseburgers right now gets me all excited. I was able still though to stay fit and I thought healthy because of my exercising specifically running, I’d run over an hour a day and then I used calorie counting to keep my weight in control.
I would track my calorie intake every day, and I knew what my total calorie limit for each day needed to be, and I never exceeded it so I could maintain my weight and be reasonably fit, but I never really paid any attention to what I was eating, just the total calorie content. Although if you were to listen to any of those Get Fit Pod episodes, you’d hear me extolling the virtues of fruits and vegetables and less sugar and eating that food pyramid, meat though, was always a big part of my diet.
So then I get diagnosed with prostate cancer, not low grade, this was advanced prostate cancer that left untreated it would quickly kill me. Among many other things that diagnosis caused me to quickly look at what made up my diet. I’m not saying cheeseburgers and steaks caused my cancer, I’m getting pretty old. And like all of us in our 60s and 70s age makes us more susceptible to diseases. I found out though, to fight this cancer, my immune system had been compromised and it needed to be strengthened. And one way to get your immune system well, and to get your organs working correctly, is to look at what you’re putting into your body.
There are a ton of studies I’ve read and I’ve studied a lot of them. And they’ll tell you that red meat consumption increases significantly your risk of getting cancer. Colon and rectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, and of course, prostate cancer. The correlation between meat and advanced stage prostate cancer, it’s extremely high. So naturally I started to do something about meat immediately after I was diagnosed. Most studies, if you just read the headlines, I did this… You’d think of meat as poison. My opinion now, though, is that perhaps meat alone may not be the culprit here, or at least it’s not totally poisoned to your body. After all, meat has lots of vitamins that actually strengthen your immune system, like B-1 and B-12. Meats a tasty source of protein.
So, is there maybe something else about meat that might also be affecting these studies? Well, first what’s the cut of meat? Is it lean or is it really fatty? How’s it prepared? Fried in oil? Oh, and when you’re having that big juicy steak, what are you drinking with that? Alcohol maybe. And do you have potatoes or vegetables with your steak? How large is the piece of meat you’re eating? And that hamburger, is it actually a cheeseburger? And of course, do you want fries with that? Oh, and this, did you make your hamburger at home with a lean cut of meat, fat trimmed off? Or did you go through the drive-through?
What I’m saying here is that I believe that you can include meat in your diet, you just have to do it right. It’s going to be more expensive, but maybe you’ll save money by not having it as often, certainly not every day. My goal is to moderate how much meat is in my diet. I use lean cuts of meat, fat trimmed away. And then I watch what I’m eating with the meat, no fries anymore. If you can enjoy a lean, quality hamburger without cheese, that should be okay. Make sure that those other foods you eat with meat, make sure they’re good for you. Here’s the bottom line, at least for me. I limit the amount of meat I eat. I make sure that it’s good quality meat, cut away the fat, cook it right, not in more oils and I balance it with the rest of the meal. I refuse to look at meat as poison, but it needs to be looked at in terms of quantity, quality, cut, cooking method, and what you’re eating with it.