Why Grass-Fed Beef Is Superior to Conventional Beef (STOP Buying It)
“Beef. It’s what’s for dinner . . . ” (here’s what they didn’t tell us). . .
Without a doubt, grass-fed beef is growing in popularity due to not only taste, but proper education. In 2013, retail sales of grass-fed beef clocked in at over $400 million, which was staggering compared to only $5 million in sales in 1998. Eating beef once per day in at the main meal (dinner) is what we were told for years during the American advertising campaign, paid for by the Beef Checkoff Program.
While I agree this was a successful campaign when it comes to profits of the cattle industry, I do not agree with the slogan.
Here at Body Buddies and the Power Foods Lifestyle, my job as a Mind and Body Strategist is to help you learn not only some important science, but to navigate your thoughts and application of behavior appropriately for your goals. In order to do this, let’s discuss first discuss how often you should actually be eating red meat.
How Often To Eat Red Meat
When you get your copy of the PFL Cheat Sheet (free download here), you will learn the key principle of the Power Foods Lifestyle when it comes to beef is to eat red meat 1-3x/week in conjunction with recommended Peak Range servings (usually the palm of you hand). This means that the 12 oz. sirloins served at most steak houses should be cut in halves, if not thirds when you dine out–be sure to ask for a to-go box to enjoy your leftovers in a day or two.
It seems most individuals I am consulting are either eating NO red meat, or far too much of it. Very rare (ha ha, love that pun) is it that someone is doing a great job at “moderation.” The individuals who present to me with symptoms of anemia, low testosterone, anxiety, depression, and low energy are those who typically are not eating any red meat. On the other hand, those who are overeating red meat tend to feel heavy and have a hard time losing body fat. We can easily know that a person has acidic blood and we need to bring down the red meat consumption (among other things) by recognizing their symptoms of inflammation, sleepiness, confusion, increased heart rate, and fatigue.
In my book, I teach the importance of quality animal protein as a baseline in your nutritional intake. This is important for balancing your blood sugar, increasing thermogenesis (caloric burn), and helping you feel satisfied.
Red Meat Calories and Macros
Red meat is not one of our leanest proteins, which means that depending on the leanness of the beef you buy or order it could easily be filling more calories (macros) than you think.
For instance, a 4 oz. burger of 90% lean has the following macros:
- Protein: 27 g
- Carbs: 0 g
- Fats: 13 g
- Calories: 235
Therefore, in the Power Foods Lifestyle this is a P-F.
Whereas a 4 oz. burger of 80% lean has the following macros:
- Protein: 27 g
- Carbs: 0 g
- Fats: 19 g
- Calories: 280
Therefore, in the Power Foods Lifestyle this is a P-F-F.
You can see how the selection of fat-to-meat ratio can easily impact your daily total calories and macronutrient intake, making even a relatively “healthy” meal turn into frustration as you’re not losing weight. (Click here to review the 5 important aspects of fat loss).
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
While it’s not just the macros that matter (oh heavens, if only that were the case, nutrition would be easy-peasy!), it’s important to recognize you need some animal fat for your body to make essential vitamins like Vitamin A.
According to the California State University’s College of Agriculture, grass-fed cows’ beef was found to have more Omega-3 fatty acids and CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) than cows that ate grains (oats, wheat, corn, etc.). This lowers your risk of Heart Disease through lowering levels of cholesterol and promoting disease-fighting antioxidant vitamins like Vitamin E. Grain-fed beef is very high in Omega-6, which are very easy to get in the modern American diet. However, too many Omega-6s without enough Omega 3-s to balance them promotes an inflammatory condition in the body.
It’s important you get Omega 3s from your food as your body does not make them. (Tip for those not eating grass-fed beef, Vegans, or Vegetarians: it is CRUCIAL you take 4-5 grams (4,000-5,000 g) Omega 3s each day.) Even though I eat grass-fed beef 3x/week, I still take my Omega 3-s every day to keep the ratio of Omega-3s to Omega-6s beneficial, not harmful.
Additionally, California State University found that grass-fed beef h ad more precursors for Vitamin A and E, as well as cancer-fighting antioxidants.
What’s a Precursor, and what happens if your body doesn’t get them?
This term is applied to an “inactive substance converted to an active one (such as an enzyme, vitamin, or hormone).”(1)
Let’s consider Vitamin A, a group of fat-soluble compounds called retinoids (found in animal-based foods). These retinoids are very bio-avilalbe, yes, too much can build up in the body and become toxic. (Think about the Power Foods Lifestyle principle of animal meat the size of your palm only 2-4x/day, with your total daily intake reflecting your understanding of peak ranges.
Peak ranges are an appropriate range of protein per the number of meals you will be eating, ensuring the balance of intake throughout the day to hit biomarkers of appropriate neurotransmitter production, blood sugar stability, thermogenesis, and blood sugar stability. The baseline Power Foods Lifestyle has Peak Ranges for a semi-active female looking to lose 15-25 pounds with a 1,500 caloric intake for slow, but steady weight loss. The Peak Range for her protein intake would be 15-30 grams of Protein 6x/day. This will land her in the ballpark of anywhere between 90 g and 180g/day, though it is rare I see women get much over 150 g/day, nor would I want them to. Unless a female is a power lifter or bodybuilder, she really does not need much more than 145 g protein/day.
Vitamin A deficiency can begin manifesting itself through night blindness, measles or pneumonia. Drinking alcohol constantly may also put you at risk for a Vitamin A deficiency as Vitamin A is stored in the liver, and any liver damage may lend your body to Vitamin A Toxicity.
Antibiotics & Growth Hormones
Did you know that around 80% of antibiotics sold in the United States are going to the livestock industry?
As more people demand meet as the population rises, animals are confined to smaller spaces which can make disease more wide-spread. If the animal you eat ingests antibiotics, they’re going in your body too, which means it can make you more resistant to antibiotics. Grass-fed cattle are not given antibiotics so you will be more likely to enjoy the benefits of moderate intake of meat for nutritional purposes in your Power Foods Lifestyle.
Consumer Reports have found that by choosing grass-fed meats over conventional meats, you will decrease your risk of food poisoning and experience fewer antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Dairy cattle are often treated with bovine growth hormone to increase milk production. Any animal injected with hormones can potentially impact your hormones as well.
Sourcing Grass-fed Beef
As we learn just how much of a problem the conventional meat industry in America has become, we put ourselves in a position where we can either take action and improve our health, or say ‘it’s just too hard’ to find that meat, so don’t change anything. I have several suggestions for you, and hope you will choose the right one for you and your family:
Mindset 1: I want to improve my health and get the essential Omega 3s, CLA, tryptophan, and other health-promoting nutrients from Grass-fed Beef 3x/week.
Solution 1: Order from Butcher Box, a company that sources the highest quality grass-fed beef, hormone-free poultry and pork, and ships it to your door each month in a refrigerated box. You can customize your order each month. This is what I do and I absolutely love it! I usually order chicken breast, grass-fed ground beef, one package of bacon, and either Drumsticks or Sirloin steak!
Mindset 2: I want to improve my health, but Butcherbox is just not in the budget.
Solution 2: Reduce the amount of red meat you eat to 1 or 2x/week only. If this means not getting the “P” in at a meal, that’s okay. Replace the P with a Power Food ‘C’ or another ‘F’ so your meal replacement would be VCF or VFF rather than PVC or PVF. This is how strongly I feel that you should only be buying grass-fed beef.
FAQ: What if I go out to eat? Should I not order red meat?
Answer: Unless it’s grass-fed beef, I would highly recommend not ordering a meat dish, especially if you’re in sick rehabilitation efforts and managing a condition of any inflammatory mechanism (usually this is MOST psychiatric, digestive, or endocrine disorder). If you’re in wellness and prevention, I am not against ordering conventional beef once in a blue moon, but please take care to NOT combine it with starches and sugars (fries, baked potatoes, rolls, breads, desserts, etc.). If you’re going to eat red meat, do your best to eat alongside leafy greens or other veggies and keep your carbs very low. Carbs will break down to sugar, which oxidizes the cholesterol and saturated fats. For more PFL Training on lowering High Cholesterol, please click here.
How does ButcherBox Source Its Meat?
Our beef is 100% grass-fed and grass-finished and never given antibiotics or hormones. All the cattle are humanely raised and live their entire life on pasture. Cattle eat their natural diet of grass, and may receive other grasses like silage and hay when weather conditions prevent grazing. We exclusively source from ranchers who humanely raise their animals and don’t interfere with their natural diet.
We source both free range organic chicken and pasture raised chicken. Our pastured chickens spend their entire lives foraging in the field. Leaner, more flavorful birds, they benefit from a slow, moist cooking environment.
All of our chicken is certified humane meaning that chickens have access to the outdoors and to shelter, are naturally fed, have plenty of room to move and do what chickens naturally do (and interact with other chickens) and that stress at each stage of life is minimized.
Our pork is heritage breed and free of antibiotics and hormones, and never fed ractopamine – a growth promotant frequently administered to pork. We source predominantly pork with Duroc, Berkshire and Red Wattle genetics. These are pigs that have not had the flavor bred out of them. Over the last generation or so, in pursuit of more rapid weight gain, pig breeders cut out the marbling that gives pork its flavor, resulting in dry, bland product. Our pork is different. It is a rich color and beautifully marbled.
The pork is either pastured or meets the following standards: raised in open barns with space to engage in natural behaviours and given bedding. No tail docking or other physical alterations are allowed.
Order Butcherbox now and give it a test drive! I’m sure you’ll love the convenient quality just as much as I do!
I hope this article helps you think a little more about your beef sourcing, total meat consumption, and what moderation looks like in realistic boundaries. Please remember I am neither a Doctor nor Dietitian, so always check with your Primary Care Physician before following any recommendations. Your health is your most valuable asset as once you lose it, it takes your life down.
Whether you’re in sick rehabilitation or prevention, know that your body can do incredible things and work harmoniously as we get your nutrition, mindset, fitness, and spirituality on the same page.
#PowerYourBody one meal, one workout, one day at a time!
Love your bud,
p.s. here is an interview I did with Nick Wallace of Nick’s Sticks, another AWESOME resource for grass-fed beef in convenient packages. These are called Nick’s Sticks and you can order these here to use in your PVF meals (low carb protein bars as I call them).