Emerging Research and Meat Alternatives [HOW TO MAKE THE SWITCH]
With the rise of new fitness fads and new diet plans like vegan and raw food diets, many people are starting to question how important some of the foods we eat really are.
One of the most common questions references our consumption of meat products. Many of us in the western world has been taught that meat is a healthy source of protein, but many experts are starting to say otherwise.
This does start to beg the question of what is really healthy for you?
If meat consumption really isn’t healthy for you why would we be taught that we should be eating it for a balanced diet?
Here are the main components why you might want to look into alternatives:
High In Fat
This is the biggest reason that many people seem to forget. Yes, some people who consume meat products only eat very lean sources but this is not the major component of the population.
Most people who consume meat products are eating foods like burgers, wings and ribs on a daily basis – which are extremely high in fat – and not the good kind. This fat is also linked to an increased cholesterol intake.
Whether or not you have been listening to popular researchers regarding cholesterol you should know that cholesterol is not necessarily a bad thing, but too much of anything can be harmful. This is more or less the case with meat products as they generally contain more LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) which is why there are numerous links to high cholesterol intake and chronic disease.
Increased Heart Disease and Cancer
This might ruffle some feathers but it is important to remember that the science we have is quite complete and does cover most of the aspects of why you should try to limit or avoid meat consumption for your long-term health.
It seems that the high intake of fat combined with some of the specific properties of meat like the high Leucine dosage and specific type of iron in the blood can increase your risk for chronic heart disease and even cancer.
In fact, research shows more than a 20-30% decrease in chronic disease for those who are involved in a plant-based diet.
Things to Consider Before Switching
The information above may seem like doom and gloom – but that’s not our intention. We are only the messenger of the science and before you start to make drastic changes to your lifestyle there are some important aspects you need to consider.
Protein is Important
Most people who limit their intake of meat products will start to wonder where they are going to get their protein content. In most cases, you will be able to get away with about 30% of your diet as protein.
For most people, this is under 100g of protein per day – which can easily be hit with a plant-rich diet full of grains, beans, nuts and seeds. And yes, you will still get a complete source of protein.
You Will Need B12
Researchers have found that b12 (an energy-based vitamin) are very rich in foods that are animal based. Without eating these foods you might start to feel tired and lethargic (although it’s unlikely). If you are concerned about this you can always limit your intake of meat products to 1x a week – which is more than enough to get your dosage or you can supplement.
Creatine For Bodybuilding
Those out there who are bodybuilders, strength athletes and anyone who is training with resistance at a higher intensity need to look into finding a good source of creatine. For most people who think they do not consume creatine – they could be wrong.
If you are eating a diet rich in meat products you are already getting a good source of creatine, which is likely why supplementing it wouldn’t do very much for you.
On the other hand, if you are not eating a meat-rich diet you will want to supplement creatine so that you can sustain muscle mass and train at higher intensities.
You can get a vegan creatine supplement as it is created chemically or can be made through a fermentation process.
Best Meat Alternatives
Now that you understand why this type of lifestyle change can be important for you and what you need to consider before you make the switch let’s walk you through the best sources of meat alternative nutrition.
The bread and butter of your protein intake should always come from beans. Not only do they contain a very good source of protein but they also have some fat and carbs – a very well balanced food source. The best part – they contain a good source of fibre which can help to keep you regular and ensure you maintain weight.
Beans also contain plenty of vitamins and mineral that are essential to your strength as a bodybuilder.
Everyone should eat more nuts – they’re rich in good calories and plenty of protein. Not only do they contain a good source of protein and fat, but along with beans will combine to provide a very complete spectrum of vitamins and minerals to help you with your success in the gym.
Nuts should be consumed in minimal amounts each day – a handful with different kinds should be perfect.
Some people may view grains like wheat and corn as their biggest detriment to Strength and weight loss but really, if you consume the right types of grains you will experience nothing but strength.
The best grains for your strength will come in the form of ancient grains and oats.
Ancient grains like bulgur wheat, quinoa and barley contain a very good source of protein while having a complete spectrum of complex carbohydrates.
For those who are in the bodybuilding world, oats will always be the key to your success under the bar. In fact, oatmeal contains one of the best spectrums on amino acids that are possible in a plant-rich food.
This one might be a little controversial but if you’re getting into a plant-based diet it is important to look at all your sources of protein. Soy is unlike many other protein sources, it contains a very good spectrum of amino acids and is very low in fat. This makes it one of the best sources of protein for anyone who wants to put on lean muscle mass.
Yes, there have been some research studies that show that a diet high in soy can increase estrogen by-products, but the amount you would need to consume is so large that it is almost unimaginable to hit.
Why Make The Switch?
If you are a person who values their health, eats tight and trains every day than this is something you should consider. Emerging science is doing plenty of research on how you can accomplish this goal to limit your onset of chronic disease.
Eating meat should not provide you with any major issues a young person but as you age and become more prone to age-related diseases a diet that causes inflammation and poor heart function can catch up to you.
Making the switch would be on of the most beneficial decisions you can make to improve your health, longevity and strength.
Gabriello is a writer and strength expert best known for his science-based and practical approach to Exercise Physiology, Nutrition and Strength. After serving in a directors position for The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology Gabriello moved towards writing to help more people understand the importance of living a healthy life. Gabriello’s writings have been published in several languages on some of the largest health and fitness websites helping people learn, grow and understand the complex components of optimizing human performance in a simplistic way.
Gabriello also takes on specialized, high-performance athletes who are in need of strength, mobility and conditioning programming to optimize their fitness through his Earned Fitness program.
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