Eat Less Meat, Lose Weight

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One way to help drop some excess pounds may be to eat less meat, according to the findings of a new European study. A dieter’s mantra may be “eat less meat, lose weight,” as meat is generally high in both calories and fat.

Recent research has linked meat consumption with several health issues in addition to weight. A National Cancer Institute study, for example, found a relationship between consumption of red and processed meats with the development of colorectal cancer. Another pointed out an association between eating foods rich in methionine, such as red meat, with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Eating large amounts of red or fried meat has been shown to be linked to bladder cancer, while a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine pointed to a significantly increased risk of death associated with eating red and processed meats daily. A diet low in red meat is also proposed as a way to help prevent prostate cancer.

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This latest study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was conducted to put a finer point on previous observational studies in which meat consumption was linked to weight gain. The team consisted of experts from a variety of European institutions who evaluated total meat, red meat, poultry, and processed meat consumption and weight gain after a five-year follow-up in more than 370,000 adults who had participated in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Physical Activity, Nutrition, Alcohol, Cessation of Smoking, Eating Out of Home and Obesity project.

Individuals from ten different European countries participated in that study, and all completed questionnaires about their diets and weight. Overall, the research team found that meat intake was linked to weight gain in both men and women, even when taking into account factors such as physical exercise, average calorie intake, smoking, and others.

The authors of the study reported that an increase in meat intake (red meat, poultry, and processed meat) of 250 grams per day (about 8.5 ounces) would result in a 2 kilogram (4.4 pounds) weight gain after five years. They also suggested that if people would eat less meat, they may lose weight. Given the other health hazards associated with consumption of meat, reducing the amount of meat in the diet would likely result in other health benefits as well.

SOURCE:
Vergnaud A-C et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2010; 92:398-407

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