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The All-Meat Diet

Posted October 10, 2012 10:04 AM by HUSH
Pathfinder Tags: bbq diet nutrition red meat

While the northern hemisphere's summer has been over for some time, impassioned carnivores like myself know that it's still barbeque season for another month or so. Yummmm, meat!

Now, let's make one thing clear: to grill is not to barbeque, and a barbeque does not involve your coworkers coming over to your backyard and drinking all the free beer. Barbeque requires slow cooking and patience, and the perfect sauce--lots of the perfect sauce.

There is no way we can talk about an all-meat diet without the thoughts of Ron Swanson: "You had me at meat tornado."

So what about an all-meat diet? We know there are vegetarians and vegans-people who consume little to no animal byproducts--but what about the opposite? We're not talking the Atkins diet here, but rather people who eat nothing but meat.

MMMMM…Nutrition

One of the best benefits of a meat-exclusive diet is the amount of zinc it provides. This metallic element is essential for growth, sexual maturation, and appetite regulation. However, high doses will have a repressive effect on the immune system, while moderate doses in fact bolster the body's biological defense. It's important to note that vegetarians do not usually suffer a zinc deficiency, though it's believed that at least 25% of the world is at risk for this health adversity.

The considerable amount of protein is the most obvious benefit of a meat diet. This source of amino acids provides instructions for protein synthesis. The average human needs between 46-56 grams of protein per day and excessive protein will go to waste.

Iron is abundant in red meat, and plays another important biological role. As part of the protein hemoglobin, it carries oxygen from the lungs to tissues. It also plays a critical role in digestion. Yet the body has no regulated way of disposing excess iron, and men (who require less iron) are especially at risk for consuming too much iron on an all meat diet. Iron helps produce free radicals which have been shown to promote cancer and heart disease.

"My number one favorite food wrapped around my number three favorite food."

Finally, red meats have plentiful amounts vitamin B, particularly thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin. These vitamins assist in cell metabolism, nervous system function, and tissue health. Since B vitamins are water soluble excessive amounts of vitamin B are excreted in urine.

While there is a noticeable lack in palette variety, there are some adverse effects of a red meat diet as well. "Would you like to sample our vegan bacon?" Meats tend to have high levels of saturated fat and often raise cholesterol, and red meats have been directly linked to diabetes as well as heart disease and cancer. Canned and processed meats tend to have high levels of sodium which raises blood pressure. High-meat diets also strain the kidneys and dehydration becomes more common.

The All-Meat Diet in Practice

You may have heard of Vilhjalmur Stefansson, but let's face it you probably didn't. As a Canadian-born Arctic explorer, he's well known for his mismanagement of expeditions that led to many deaths amongst his crew. He was also a communist. But what we're interested in here is his documentation of the Inuit diet, and his partial adaptation to it during his decade exploring the Artic. The Artic is ill-suited for plant cultivation and the natives of this area survive for months on end with no vegetation. Seal, walrus, whale, caribous, and fish make up most of the Inuit diet, and due to rich levels of omega-3 and monounsaturated fats there does not appear to be the same level of health risk with other meats. The Inuit eat a large portion of their food raw as well, preserving some essential vitamins and minerals. Some of this is due to spiritual rituals, but also because stopping to filet and cook the meat may freeze the hunter. Even if the Inuit drink seal blood, they seem to remain remarkably healthy throughout the year.

Upon testimonial of Stefansson's carnivorous diet with the Inuit, the medical community expressed skepticism at its health benefits. He was challenged to recreate the diet--a challenge he accepted.

"There is a hot, spinning cone of meat in that Greek restaurant…I'd like to eat that whole thing."

The results of this study were published in 1930 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It documents how he was initially prescribed a diet of lean meat, but was found to be very sick. Upon the return of fat to his diet, a full recovery was made. His only fodder was beef, lamb, veal, pork and chicken, and he ate about 800 grams of meat per day. Carbohydrates were only supplied by the glycogen of the meat.

After a year of this diet, physicians determined there was "no subjective or objective evidences of any loss of physical or mental vigor." No vitamin deficiencies were detected. Stefansson noted that his gingivitis had cleared and that his hair and scalp felt healthier as well.

Seven years later, Steffanson had reverted to a more Westernized diet that included grains, vegetables, and dairy--and during that time he had become overweight.

Eating Meat

Is an all-meat diet really practical? No.

But would it be delicious? Yes.

"...shown the ways of flavorful meat love."

There is no way modern, first world humans would be able to subsist on a strictly-meat diet. Individuals who have proven they can live on such high protein intakes have also proven that they need at least 50-70% of their calories coming from meat fat, preventing protein poisoning, and providing valuable energy. The Inuit are proven to have genetically larger livers and higher volumes of urine.

Interestingly, if I want to eat meat all year round then I'll have to live in the cold and rarely cook it. I'd rather enjoy some less cold weather and a shorter grilling season. Someday, I'll post the recipe to my world class ribs--until then, enjoy the fresh seal!

Ron, take us out! "When I eat, it is the food that is scared."

Image credits, in order: NPR, Ben Alman, Alex Leo Blog, The Medical Biochemistry Page, Ron Says, Wikipedia, UMN

Resources

Men's Fitness - All-Meat vs. Vegetarian Diets

Inhumane Expirement - Two Brave Men Who Ate Nothing But Meat For An Entire Year

Wikipedia - Zinc deficiency; Iron; Barbeque; Vilhjalmur Stefansson; Inuit diet

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#1

Re: The All-Meat Diet

10/10/2012 1:50 PM

I'm certain if an Inuit was transported into our society and ate our diet, they would perish very quickly. They would also succumb to the diseases of our society. The reverse would also be the same. we would not survive without the nutrients our body was accustomed to. No one really knows for sure. That is only my idea. People who come from countries where the diet is very different from ours tend to keep to their native diet not because of custom, but because their metabolism has been tailored to a certain diet from birth. Maybe the organs develop differently to accommodate a particular diet and changing that diet, upsets the balance.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: The All-Meat Diet

10/10/2012 2:48 PM

Like the Inuit have larger livers and a higher production of urine, I'd agree with this statement.

Westernized diets are largely based on convenience, leading to preservation and freezing techniques that definitely alter the chemistry of our food.

I'm not beating the political drum for organic foods or regulation (like NYC has done with its beverage mandates), but it seems clear that less processed foods are better for overall health. I try to buy my BBQ meats from butchers.

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#6
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Re: The All-Meat Diet

10/11/2012 7:50 AM

Diet is linked to the development of human blood types. Type O being the first was mainly a meat eater. Also the loss of our use and need of our wisdom teeth.

The Inuit do not need to come here. Our life site has been slowly encroaching on them. Tooth decay which was very rarely found in their populous now plagues them.

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#3

Re: The All-Meat Diet

10/10/2012 7:00 PM

Here in the South we make the distinction between barbecuing and grilling. Grilling is meat cooked over an open flame; BBQ involves a sauce applied to meat that has been cooked using a long, slow, smoking process. And happily for us, there is no 'season'; grilling, smoking and BBQ-ing are year-round activities. Even when there is snow on the ground here (if you call an inch of snow 'snow') I will fire up the grill for a chop or a steak.

An interesting side note is that, in his book about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Stephen Ambrose mentions that the Corps of Discovery subsisted mainly on meat. They didn't have many vegetables to eat during their long journey. Also interesting is that, when they got to the Pacific Northwest and were starved for food, they ignored the fat salmon swimming in the nearby river. (I think salmon comes close to almost being meat, especially when it's grilled.)

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#4

Re: The All-Meat Diet

10/11/2012 1:34 AM

When considering dietary variations, one should also consider the other inhabitants of the digestive tract, especially since these organisms apparently assist in the digestive process. Recent studies have demonstrated a significant difference in the biodiversity in the intestines of various human populations, and this variation in diversity has been correlated to dietary practices...

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Re: The All-Meat Diet

10/11/2012 5:23 AM

Inuit to win it !....American Idols

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#7

Re: The All-Meat Diet

10/11/2012 1:16 PM

My whole family are meat eaters....

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Re: The All-Meat Diet

10/11/2012 2:01 PM

Not just...brains?

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Re: The All-Meat Diet

10/11/2012 4:28 PM

I have a personal "theory" (mostly unsupported by published scientific studies) that the development of the low-protein, high carb diet was originally politically motivated, with the high-carb foods, which provide a good energy source, being fed mostly to the working stiffs, while a steady meat diet was reserved for the ruling elite (at one time, "poaching" meat from the King's reserves was a hanging offense...). Feed the masses what will encourage docile, mindless acceptance of their obviously less desirable living conditions, while reserving the "brain food" for those in control...

At least one study of the earliest agrarians has suggested that they were a sickly lot that tended to die young, at the beginning of the agricultural revolution. Could be they hadn't yet developed the appropriate git microbe population to properly extract nutrition from the new diet...Of course, one stand-alone example doesn't prove much, but opens up some intriguing questions...

Also note that historically, meat-eating barbarians were a far lot more successful at overrunning civilized farming societies than vice versa. Of course, there could be a lot more than just diet contributing to this...

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#10

Re: The All-Meat Diet

10/11/2012 11:36 PM

Ask Calvin (and Hobbes too, for that matter)!

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#11
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Re: The All-Meat Diet

10/15/2012 1:15 PM

Speaking as a Calvin, I can say I most certainly enjoy meat.

I do not follow a paleo diet, however.

Mostly because I don't care for organ meat.

Hobbes, on the other hand... He loooves all da meat!

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#12

Re: The All-Meat Diet

10/16/2012 11:44 AM

They have done some studies that show that the fat in the meat is necessary for good health. The Inuit consume very fatty meat. In ancient time the fatty portions were considered the best. Now they try to push non fat and low fat on us, but they substitute dry and tasteless meat or sugar and processed foods in place of the healthy fat. I don't plan on eating an all meat diet but I love meat and will continue to eat it - even prime rib and Delmonico cuts - and will continue to use butter and cream.

Here are some interesting articles on the fat controversy Good Fats, Bad Fats, Worst Fats and The Shocking Truth about Dietary Fats and Saturated Fats.

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Re: The All-Meat Diet

10/16/2012 6:27 PM

Besides, all the flavor is in the fat. Remove the fat from beef muscle or pork muscle or chicken muscle or fish muscle, and it all pretty much tastes the same- rather bland...

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