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Choosing the Ideal Diet for Health and Weight Loss Goals

September 22, 2010

(Article first published as Meat vs. Vegetarian Diet: Your Best Choice for Weight Loss and Health on Technorati.)

Very few topics will spark as much heated debate as those centered on whether it’s best to restrict meat or indulge in that juicy steak for optimal health and weight maintenance. While the question may not be conclusively answered anytime soon, there are distinct differences between the two dietary styles which can have a significant impact on health and weight loss goals.
Man Has Evolved to Eat Meat

Our evolutionary ancestors have eaten meat for hundreds and thousands of generations, and scientists believe that the size of our brain and capacity to think, learn and speak are all due to increased consumption of meat. Unfortunately the meat we eat today is very different from the grass fed free range animals we hunted thousands of years ago. Meat was consumed raw, and we evolved to eat all parts of the animal which were enriched with omega-3 fats and other essential nutrients.

Excess Meat Linked with Weight Gain

Today’s meat bears little resemblance to the natural source of protein eaten by our predecessors. Many animals have been force fed with grains and injected with artificial hormones to make them fatter, reducing the healthy Omega-3 fat ratio in the meat. The hormones end up in our body, wreaking havoc with our own metabolic balance leading to weight gain. The results of a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concludes that meat consumption is associated with weight management issues due to the excess calories eaten.

Some Meat Necessary for Good Health
Some people restrict meat for ethical reasons, which is certainly their choice. For the vast majority of others looking to improve their health, small quantities of meat are necessary as prescribed by our evolutionary past. In addition to being a prime source of Vitamin B12, meat supplies other essential nutrients which are not present in a vegan style diet. The appropriate question is how much meat to eat, what type and how should it be cooked? 
Meat Preparation and Cooking is Important

Meat should account for no more than 10% of your total daily calories. Fill up on a limitless supply of fresh vegetables and greens and minimize the calories from meat and carbohydrates. When meat is grilled, fried or overcooked, the chemical properties of the flesh are altered and the charred portion becomes carcinogenic and dangerous to your health. Meats should be minimally cooked to avoid this problem.

Whenever possible it’s best to choose organically raised white meat chicken, turkey or grass fed beef which has been roasted or cooked at low temperature. If grilled or seared, cut off any visible charring to avoid the excess toxins. Processed meats such as sausage, bacon and bologna should be avoided entirely, as these have been impregnated with nitrates which are known to cause cancer.
Planning the Proper Ratio of Meat to Vegetables
Each person has evolved with a slightly different metabolism, and will require differing amounts of protein, carbs and fat. Some may need more protein for ideal health, while others are best served on a vegan style menu. Experiment by making small changes to your diet and maintain for a week until you find the best dietary ratio for you.
Many choose a vegan diet thinking that may be best for weight loss and optimal health. A diet centered on plenty of vegetables and greens, nuts, seeds and Omega-3 fats will be ideal for the majority of individuals. It’s important to include a small amount of meat which hasn’t been overcooked or processed to satisfy our evolved genetics and achieve an ideal weight with vibrant health.
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