Is there anything more American than cracking open a cold one and proceeding to eat a medium-rare beef steak?
My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
But red meat (stakes especially) has been under attack for a good few decades.
‘Experts’ from left and right decided to call it the number one enemy of this sort of vital organ called The Heart!
The truth is slowly starting to come out, though, and we can finally enjoy eating red meat without some random middle-aged lady (probably our wife) commenting how it’s killing us.
But what if we’re on the Paleo diet?
Is throwing a few stakes on the grill every week or two against the Paleo recommendations?
That’s what we aim to find out in this article – Can you eat red meat on Paleo?
We won’t just answer that particular question; we’ll go in-depth about types of red meat and which ones you should avoid.
Can You Eat Red Meat On Paleo?
The answer to this one is a resounding YES!
Yes, you can!
But before you start drowning in burgers, thinking you’re still on Paleo, you should finish this article.
Red meat is a pretty broad term that includes a lot of different meat products, and some of them you should most definitely avoid.
But let’s see why red meat had such a bad reputation in the first place.
Back in the 1950s, a guy named Ancel Keys cherry-picked a bunch of data and concluded that fat and cholesterol caused heart diseases in humans.
The way he did it was by using rabbits as test subjects, rabbits that are OMNIVOROUS.
It’s like breastfeeding a newborn baby with orange juice instead of milk and calling it unhealthy.
Long-story-short, the people in charge at the time decided to accept this theory about cholesterol and fat.
Coincidentally, red meat contains both.
One of the reasons the government decided to take this step was that transporting and preserving meat is a lot harder than grains.
The public at the time wasn’t aware of the problems this could cause.
The diets we have now, like the Paleo diet, didn’t really exist back then, or at least they weren’t nearly as popular.
The Data Is Finally In
After decades of feeding the public wrong information, we’ve finally realized that red meat and meat, in general, isn’t unhealthy.
In fact, red meat is full of vitamins and minerals essential for your body’s proper functioning.
Just take the Paleo diet, for example;
Meat is very much allowed on this diet because we know for a fact our ancestors ate meat and didn’t suffer from things like obesity.
Compare that to our current situation where obesity rose from 30.5% in 1999 to 42.4% in 2018.
Those numbers suggest we definitely have a big fat problem.
But red meat is not to be blamed for this. Let’s look at some of its characteristics in order to understand all of this better.
To illustrate our previous point properly, we’ll have to look at a nutrition chart.
- Beef, 85% lean,15%fat (100g)
- Hot dogs (96g)
- Whole wheat bread (95g)
As you can see, we compared three standard groceries, you’ll see why as we go through the article.
The most glaring differences are in fat, cholesterol, and carbs.
There’s a reason we included all three of these in the chart; just stay with us; it’ll all come together soon.
But more to that point, there’s a lot of research out there that suggests cholesterol doesn’t have anything to do with heart conditions.
If that’s so, why have medical experts been opposed to it for decades?
To answer this, we go back to our Ancel Keys theory, where he cherry-picked data and came to a wrong conclusion.
A conclusion that led to dietary guidelines that we have today where it’s recommended to eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible.
The guidelines that led the US to be the fattest country in the world.
Sure, the Paleo diet can increase your cholesterol, but it also requires you to have some physical activity throughout the day.
All in all, cholesterol from red meat will not harm the vast majority of people; of course, there are always exceptions(that prove the rule).
Carbohydrates and Vitamin C
According to our nutrition chart, red meat doesn’t contain any vitamin C whatsoever.
Red meat also has zero carbs, unlike the whole wheat (“the epitome of health”) bread we listed.
It’s common knowledge that vitamin C is vital to our overall health.
The recommended daily intake of vitamin C for adults is around 80mg, a bit less for women and a bit more for men.
The US dietary guidelines suggest a healthy diet consists of around 45% to 60% carbohydrates.
And now the thing that breaks the camel’s back.
Carbohydrates IMPAIR your ability to absorb vitamin C properly.
That’s because carbs contain glucose. Glucose and vitamin C have a similar structure, and our blood cells don’t know which is which.
They are basically competing to see who’s the lucky winner that’ll stay in your body.
What about carbs on the Paleo diet, you might ask?
The carbs on the Paleo diet should primarily come from veggies and fruits.
Although they contain glucose, they are also filled with nutrients that help your body properly absorb them.
How is this relevant for red meat? After all, we did say it doesn’t have any vitamin C.
If you eat meat or red meat and skip putting carbs in your body, your need for vitamin C intake is drastically reduced.
That’s also one of the reasons wheat is not allowed on the Paleo diet; the amount of carbs these products have is just too high.
Unlike us, our ancestors that lived in the Paleolithic era didn’t have the luxury to go to a grocery store and pick the type of meat they felt like eating.
Instead, they had to hunt an animal, which was probably a lot of hard work.
But that did come with one significant advantage, mainly, the meat they were eating was 100% natural.
When we say natural, we mean the animal wasn’t bred in some building where it could only eat grain products and antibiotics.
No, animals could roam free and eat what they were supposed to eat back then.
This is where the Paleo diet comes into play.
You might not be able to eat venison every day, but you can always find grass-fed beef.
Otherwise, you could be consuming some very low-quality meat that, although considered Paleo, could be harmful in the long run.
To understand this point better, we have to look at something called fatty acids.
There are two types of fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6.
In order to stay healthy, a balance between these two is required.
If you eat meat from an animal raised in an unnatural environment, that meat could have 20 times more omega-6s than omega-3s.
Omega 6s cause inflammation, while omega 3s are considered anti-inflammatory.
It’s like putting gas in your car but never changing the oil; something is going to give sooner or later.
However, animals that were adequately raised have about three times more omega-6s compared to twenty we previously mentioned; that’s a huge difference.
If you’re on Paleo, the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids are fish and seafood in general; these should definitely be on your weekly menu.
Who Let The Dogs Out
There’s a reason we’ve included hot dogs in our nutrition chart.
They are processed food, even if they are made from red meat.
This means that it’s very questionable how much meat you’re eating when consuming a hot dog.
A similar food would be burgers.
Both of these ‘meat’ products went through a process that destroyed the healthy part of the meat and added unhealthy preservatives.
Unless you made them yourself, I wouldn’t consider eating them, Paleo or not; they’re just too unhealthy.
What Red Meat To Eat On Paleo?
Whatever is grass-fed and probably a bit more on the expensive side.
We would also recommend you don’t eat just one type of meat.
Beef is great, but choosing lamb or veal every now and then is an excellent way to diversify your meat choices and diet.
Can You Eat Red Meat On Paleo – Conclusion
This article was a bit more ‘sciency’ than we planned, but we felt like standing up for this great food.
You most certainly can eat red meat on the Paleo diet.
It will provide you with an ample amount of protein and is full of vitamins and minerals.
We’ve talked about the cholesterol myth for quite a bit and concluded that things aren’t as some people led us to believe.
All in all, the Paleo diet allows most things that are healthy and nutritious.
We don’t recommend you go all red meat, but we certainly encourage you to eat it.
Now, you may go have that medium-rare steak we mentioned in the beginning, just make sure it’s grass fed; hope you enjoy it even more after this.