The most effective way to lose weight? You might want to drop meat from your diet. An Imperial College London team studied just about 400,000 adults in 10 European countries and found that eating meat was tied to weight gain, even in those consuming the same number of calories. The strongest association was with processed meats like sausages and ham according to the research just published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
This suggests that high protein, low carb diets might not help you lose weight over the long haul. Study lead Dr. Anne-Claire Vergnaud believes that people need to try and control their consumption of meat in order to maintain a healthy weight, and overall good health. But cutting out meat alone is not a solid weight loss strategy.
The study examined data for men and women who took part in a large project (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Physical Activity, Nutrition, Alcohol, Cessation of Smoking, Eating Out of Home and Obesity (EPIC-PANACEA) project) looking at the link between diet and cancer. Subjects from 10 European nations were weighed and measured at the start of the study, and then asked to report their weight five years later while filling out a detailed food questionnaire.
The team found that meat eating was linked to weight gain in both sexes. The link was still significant after accounting for overall calorie intake, physical activity and other things that might throw off the results. In those who ate the same number of calories, including a small steak (250g of meat), led to an added gain of 2kg (5 lbs) over five years.
Why? No one is sure, but one theory is that such an energy dense food can change how the body regulates appetite. There may be other lifestyle factors or dietary choices that may also be at work.
If you’re trying to cut back on meat, consider shaking things up – choose an egg instead of bacon, cheese instead of ham, and fish instead of a steak. You’ll want to eat lots of lentils, whole grains, fruit and veggies, as well as oily fish. Portion size is also important – your serving of meat should be just about the size of a standard deck of cards.
How can you move away from eating so much meat:
1) Don’t worry about how you’ll get enough protein, plants have protein too, and many have more protein than meats. Americans tend to eat about two times the 56 grams of protein recommended by the U.S. government anyway. If you eat a well balanced diet, getting enough protein isn’t really an issue.
2) Use meat as a condiment, a treasured addition, rather than the main focus of a meal. Use it to season other dishes, rather than being the center of the meal. This is especially hard for those who grew up with “Beef: it’s what’s for dinner” commercials. Consider vegetarian or seafood nights for a change of pace.
3) Move meat from center stage on the plate by buying smaller (or leaner) cuts of meat and then add more side dishes like veggies, grains, beans, salads and even a sweet bit of fruit for dessert. Stir fries and pastas are also great, tasty choices where meat isn’t the whole meal.
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Lose Weight By Eating Less Meat, Researchers Say… Continued…
4) Find new ways to prepare veggies and other sides. Supplement the veggies with pasta, rice, beans, cheese, eggs, good canned fish, bacon, even a little bit of meat. You can precook all the non meat items you want to have on hand when you get home. Store cooked veggies in the fridge or freezer, and then reheat with seasonings.
5) Make some rules… no bacon at breakfast, no burgers for lunch or no fast food, period. Consider meatless Fridays, salad instead of a sandwich for lunch three times a week, or a vegetarian dinner once a week.
6) Be aware of what’s on restaurant menus, especially if you’re trying to cut back on meat. Don’t frequent places that have meat heavy dishes… Asian and Italian eateries are safe bets. If you find yourself at a steak house, order sides or appetizers, or offer to share a meat loaded entrée with a dinner companion. When all else fails, remove a third of the portion you’re served from the start, then take the leftover home for later.
By making a few simple changes to the way you eat, you can be taking in less meat (a most effective way to lose weight) and perhaps be doing more to keep your weight under control.