Red meat is a staple in the diets of many Americans. What is more American than a classic cheeseburger or a hot dog on a warm summer day? But, as is true with most other things, too much of a good thing can be bad for you. While it’s true that red meat is a source of high-quality protein and fuels your body with important nutrients like iron, zinc, and vitamin B12, eating too much of it has been linked to negative outcomes like increased risk of cancer and heart disease.
The best way to know whether you are eating too much red meat is to pay attention to your serving sizes and frequency of consumption. One serving of meat is equivalent to 3–4 ounces: this is approximately the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand.
1. Weight Gain
We love to celebrate with beef, but when we too often consume over sized steaks and double-meat cheeseburgers, we pack in the calories. Choosing sensible servings of 3–4 ounces of beef and leaner cuts like sirloin, flank steak, strip loin, and 90-percent lean or leaner ground beef can help with your weight goals without cutting meat altogether.
2. Offensive Breath
If you find yourself needing to pop a piece of gum to combat stinky breath more often than usual, you may be eating too much meat. When you digest meat, your body produces ammonia as a byproduct. The smell of ammonia can sneak up into your mouth and cause a foul-smelling odor.
3. Cholesterol Is Creeping Up
Consuming too much saturated fat can raise blood cholesterol, so if you are eating large amounts of fattier cuts of red meat, your cardiologist may not be too happy with your levels. Choose lean cuts of beef to combat your high cholesterol. The good news is that there are lots of options to choose from. Research now suggests that up to 6 ounces of lean beef as part of a balanced diet won’t negatively affect cholesterol levels, and these findings are reflected in the American Heart Association’s recommendations.
4. Experiencing Constipation
If you are eating too much meat and not getting enough fiber from produce, whole grains, and beans, you may experience constipation. While beef is one of the most digestible proteins, eating too much likely means that you are not eating a balanced diet. Keeping your meat intake in check while making sure to eat fiber- rich foods and staying hydrated can help keep things moving in the right direction.
5. Fertility Struggles
If you are having trouble conceiving, it is possible that too much red meat is playing a role. Choosing protein options that are plant-based or rich in omega-3 fatty acids (like fish) and limiting red and processed meats result in improved fertility in women according to a study published in Fertility and Sterility. For men, data suggests that processed red meat is associated with a lower sperm count.
6. Experiencing Bad Body Odor
If you notice that people turn their noses away from you or make comments on your funky smell, you may be giving off some bad body odor. While skipping showers is an obvious culprit to B.O., your protein choices may play a role as well. In one small study, men who avoided red meat for 2 weeks had an odor that was more attractive and more pleasant when compared with the red meat eater’s natural scent, according to data published in Chemical Senses.