Obesity in the U.S. continues  unabated, indicating that Americans are increasingly overfed but undernourished. A new trend, however, indicates beef can play a role in helping manage the nation’s health and waistline.
Checkoff studies indicate that 95% of Americans enjoy the taste of beef, and they no longer need to feel guilty about it. Gary Taubes, author of “Good Calories; Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat And What To Do About It,” pushes his readers to pass on the bread and brownies and opt for animal proteins and vegetables.
In his book’s foreword, Taubes writes, “If your goal in reading this book is simply to be told the answer to the question, ‘What do I do to remain lean or lose the excess fat I have?’ then this is it: stay away from carbohydrate-rich foods; and the sweeter the food, the more likely it is to make you fat and the more you should avoid it.”
Taubes recommends eating as much meat, fish, fowl, eggs and leafy green vegetables as you want, but to avoid simple starches and sugars; and learn for yourself what your body can tolerate. “Eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full,” he says.
This push for fats and proteins could be good news for the beef business, boosting demand both domestically and abroad. And, emphasizing healthy animal proteins could be just the ticket.
“The fact is that there are many ways to build a healthy, satisfying diet, but lifestyle changes like the Paleo Diet (another popular protein diet) may help give some people a new perspective on the satisfying combination of taste and nutrition that beef delivers,” says Shalene McNeill, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) executive director for human nutrition research.
Taubes’ advice is linear to that of “The Paleo Diet,” authored by Loren Cordain, which encourages individuals to “eat like a caveman”; that is, to ingest only foods our Paleolithic ancestors would have foraged up in the wilderness. Getting back to basics is what it’s all about, and Taubes sees no need to trim the fat off recipes, compulsively count calories or excessively exercise to lose weight.
“In the last century, nothing has been more damaging than the ‘calories-in, calories-out’ model pushed by today’s doctors and nutritionists. Insulin puts fat in fat cells. That’s what it does. And our insulin levels, for the most part, are determined by the carb content of our diet — the quantity and quality of the carbohydrates consumed,” Taubes says.
On a typical day, Taubes says he eats three eggs with cheese, bacon and sausage for breakfast; a couple of cheeseburgers (no bun) or a roast chicken for lunch; and more often than not, a ribeye for dinner. That adds up to about 1 lb. of meat.
“So, lots of fat and very little carbohydrates — a deadly diet, according to today’s medical community,” Taubes says.
He credits this high-fat, high-protein diet for his good health and hopes to encourage people to adopt this lifestyle, one that promotes both wellness and satiety.
There’s growing evidence that a higher-protein, lower-carbohydrate diet offers numerous health benefits , NCBA’s McNeil adds.
“A growing body of research indicates that protein requirements have been significantly underestimated. Current recommendations for protein intake are based on the minimum amount of protein required to prevent amino acid deficiency. Yet, a recent study found that protein requirements for adult men were about 50% higher than the current recommended daily allowance, which indicates an urgent need to reassess recommendations for protein intake,” McNeil says.
So, bring on the beef and pair it with leafy greens drizzled in healthy oils. This trend may just be the lifestyle change needed to get Americans healthy and boost beef demand.
Amanda Nolz is a South Dakota rancher and editor of BEEF Daily .