If you ask five athletes what their thoughts are about eating red meat during training, you’ll probably hear five different opinions. If you’re a meat lover, you’ll be happy to know that with a few simple guidelines you can incorporate meat into your diet in a sensible way that won’t detract from long-term health and athletic potential.
MEAT THE BENEFITS
Red meat offers top quality protein with all essential amino acids. It’s packed with heme-based iron, which the body can easily absorb and use. (Plants contain non-heme based iron, which is a little harder to access.) Red meat is a richer source of iron than poultry. Beef also is loaded with B vitamins, zinc, and selenium. The B vitamins help keep you energized. Zinc keeps your immune system strong, helps with wound healing, and plays a role in producing hemoglobinin the blood, which carries oxygen to working muscles. Selenium is an antioxidant that protects your body on the cellular level and helps reduce inflammation.
If you choose a fatty cut of meat, you can overload on calories and saturated fat. The artery clogging fat in red meat can raise blood triglycerides, cholesterol, and increase the risk of heart disease. Research also has linked the consumption of red meat to colon cancer, gallstones, and gout.
Here are a few keys to allow you to incorporate meat into your diet in a healthy way.
• Choose the Cut
Tenderloin and sirloin are among the leanest cuts of meat. A 4-ounce serving of sirloin has 210 calories, 7.5 grams of fat, and just 3 grams of saturated fat. On the other hand, the same size portion of prime rib has about 300 calories, 24 grams of fat, and 10 grams of saturated fat.
• Pick the Portion
It’s tempting to splurge on a big 10-ounce serving of steak but stick to a range of 4-6 ounces for portion control. A deck of cards is about 3 ounces, so you can use that as your base. In addition, combining meat with other foods, such as adding sautéed onions and peppers to thin strips of sirloin, can fill you up without adding fat.
• Regulate the Rate
Eat red meat 2-3 times per week so that you can work in heart-healthy fish and skinless poultry as well.