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What meat is the heaviest for humans?

Beef, pork, lamb, rabbit, turkey – each of these types of meat, although a source of protein, has its own composition and beneficial properties. Which one is better for an athlete to choose, explains World Class nutritionist Galina Anisenya. One of the most important components of a person’s menu, especially an athlete’s, is protein. Depending on your goals, objectives and health status, it makes up 10–20% of your daily caloric intake. Products of both animal origin – meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy products – and plant origin are used as a source of protein. These include grains, legumes, mushrooms, and nuts. The main part of the meat is muscle tissue, which includes moisture (73–77%), proteins (18–21%), lipids (1–3%), extractives (1,7–2% nitrogen and 0,9– 1,2% nitrogen-free) and minerals (0,8–1,0%). The nutritional value of meat is due to complete proteins containing essential amino acids: valine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, threonine, tryptophan, phenylalanine. Since our body cannot produce essential amino acids on its own, it is important to get them from food. Microelements and vitamins also enter the human body with meat. In Russian cuisine, as a rule, the meat of domestic mammals is used – beef, veal, lamb, pork, goat and rabbit.

Protein diet for athletes

It is important for athletes to focus on the end goal and build their diet and training program based on this. Thus, bodybuilders need more protein because they need building material to build new muscle tissue. Track and field athletes (runners, cyclists) need a different approach – less protein, since endurance is important to them. If a person often eats meat, he gains weight. The athlete will experience significantly greater resistance from the external environment, which means losing more energy. A 2013 study by Japanese scientists showed that eating too much protein inhibits the development of endurance in humans due to the fact that it reduces the number of mitochondria (microscopic energy stations located in muscle cells, where aerobic metabolism occurs) in our body. creates under the influence of training. At the same time, if you rarely eat meat, a person loses strength. Hemoglobin is required to transport oxygen to cells. It is built from protein (globin) and iron (heme), which are found in meat and offal. It is impossible to say for sure which meat is better. A lot depends on the person, his eating habits, his individual set of enzymes, the general health of the digestive system and microbiome. This is a complex metabolic puzzle, with about 2700 enzymes and 896 chemical reactions. Matt Fitzgerald, in his book “Diet of Champions,” emphasizes diversity in the nutrition of athletes, both across food groups and within groups. So, every day we need to consume foods from all groups: whole grains, vegetables (including legumes), fruits, animal protein (meat, fish, seafood), nuts, seeds, oils, dairy products. But diversity is also needed within groups: you shouldn’t eat the same chicken breast all the time. It is better if the diet from this group of products (in our case, protein) includes beef, rabbit, turkey, and even pork.


This is one of the most ancient types of domestic meat and a source of the main building components of joint tissue, collagen and elastin. That is why beef is consumed to prevent joint diseases. And the increased zinc content determines the beneficial properties of beef for men: this metal is responsible for the smooth functioning of the prostate gland and intense spermatogenesis.


The benefit of pork is that it contains pork fat and lard. It is digested more easily than any other animal fat and puts the least burden on the digestive tract, preventing intestinal disorders and pathologies. If the fat is trimmed, the remaining meat will be quite lean. This is why the composition of pork is good: it is easy to separate the fat from the meat and, if necessary, eat everything separately.

Rabbit meat

A rabbit carcass contains up to 85% meat, which is absorbed by our body by almost 90%. For comparison: this figure for beef and pork is significantly lower. Rabbit meat contains less “ballast” – tendons and bones. It is easily separated into meat and fat, and does not cause allergies.


Turkey contains the same amount of phosphorus as fish. This is more than other types of meat. Turkeys require good walking, fresh air, and space. Keeping them in narrow cages and feeding them with compound feed will not work. Therefore, their meat is the “cleanest”.


Domestic chickens raised in spacious enclosures on a varied diet are better than factory broilers, which are fed with compound feed and growth stimulants. Domestic chicken meat contains a lot of complete animal protein. It contains all the necessary amino acids, a set of cartilage proteins and building material for the tissues of our body. And the collagen and elastin proteins contained in chicken feet will benefit those who suffer from joint diseases.


It is rich in B vitamins, namely B₁, B₂, B₃, B₅, B₆, B₉, B₁₂. Thanks to them, lamb has a good effect on metabolism, accelerates the processes of synthesis in the body of nutrients and increases overall tone. Lamb also contains vitamins E, D and K, which improve the functioning of the circulatory and immune systems and strengthen the skeleton. Creatine is a popular sports supplement for people who participate in strength sports. With proper training, the effect of creatine is manifested in the achievement of sports results: explosive strength and muscle mass grow faster. It is also found in animal products. For example, the average creatine content per 1 kg of product is as follows: herring – 6–10 g; pork – 5 g; beef – 4–4,5 g; salmon – 4,5 g. In milk, the creatine content is much lower – about 0,1 g per 1 liter. However, there is evidence that creatine has the side effect of increasing blood pressure. Therefore, it is undesirable to use it for hypertension. Thus, if you get creatine from foods, the risk of overdose is significantly reduced. For variety, you can also include protein broths in your diet. Broth is a liquid broth made from meat, fish or vegetables. It contains a small amount of proteins, so it has more of a taste and stimulating value than a nutritional value, and is also easily absorbed even by a weakened body. Extractive substances in meat improve the taste of food, stimulate appetite, and enhance the secretion of digestive glands. If you need to reduce the calorie content of your diet, but leave the volume the same, first courses based on protein broths are well suited. Of course, this does not apply to those athletes who build muscle mass. Since we practically do not eat game, it is better to cook what is sold in stores using secondary broth. To do this, a piece of any protein product – meat, poultry, fish – is cooked for 10 minutes. Then the broth is disposed of and the dishes are washed. The pan is filled with fresh water, in which the secondary broth is boiled. The primary broth digests residual amounts of hormones and antibiotics used on livestock farms, which reduces the harmfulness of the secondary broth. The calorie content of the finished dish is also reduced. There are many different horror stories about meat. Allegedly, because of it, we age faster, and gain weight, and in general it leads to cancer and premature death. Horror. Darkness. But if you know when to stop and don’t overeat too much meat every day, then nothing bad will happen to you. And if anyone has doubts, he can always consult a doctor and ask if he can eat meat and in what quantities. By the way, we also turned to doctors. Only for a completely different reason – they wanted to place each meat in its place: from the most useful to the most harmful.

Rabbit meat

Rabbit meat does not often appear on our tables, and it’s completely in vain. This is a low-allergenic and low-fat meat, which is superior to chicken in terms of protein. By the way, rabbit proteins are absorbed by the body by 90%, while beef proteins are only absorbed by 60%. Rabbit meat contains a lot of useful vitamins, minerals and other elements, but there is a minimum of salts. And we already eat much more hidden salt than we need. Although the chemical composition of rabbit meat (like any other meat) depends mainly on the age of the animal and its feeding, it is in any case considered an absolutely dietary product. It is recommended to start introducing meat products into the diet of a small child with rabbit meat; it is allowed even in strict diets and is indicated for pregnant women and nursing mothers. In addition, rabbit meat is recommended for patients with diseases of the cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal tract and liver, as well as people with food allergies.

Veal and beef

“Veal and young beef have a lot of iron and vitamin A, but most importantly – complete protein, which is perfectly absorbed,” says gastroenterologist Galina Bartashevich. — More “aged” meat contains more harmful saturated fats and substances that cause oxidative processes in the body. In addition, it is believed that red meat accelerates the aging process in the human body. Galina Bartashevich is a gastroenterologist of the highest category, pediatric gastroenterologist, nutritionist, candidate of sciences. “According to several meta-analyses, 100–120 grams of red meat every day increases the risk of developing colon cancer by 17–30%, and just 25–50 grams of processed meat daily can increase this figure by up to 50%,” says nutritionist Irina Borodina . — According to current data from the World Health Organization, daily consumption of red meat increases the risk of pancreatic cancer: 100 grams of red meat increases the risk by approximately 17%. Irina Borodina is a nutritionist at the Center for Public Health and Medical Prevention, Candidate of Sciences, first category therapist. To find the healthiest veal and beef, experts advise paying attention to the way they are raised—grass-fed is preferable to grain-fed. Grass-fed meat is denser and leaner, containing more muscle fiber and less fat. True, such meat will cost more.

Chicken and turkey

It is generally accepted that white meat is healthier than anything else. Italian researchers have found that what makes it a valuable product is its moderate calorie content, easily digestible proteins with a low level of collagen, unsaturated lipids that are easily excreted from the body, B vitamins, and minerals (iron, zinc and copper). “An analysis of the health status of people from different countries with different types of diet showed that consumption of white meat helps reduce the risk of obesity, cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes,” says Irina Borodina. “In addition, poultry is especially suitable for those who need more calories and protein, such as athletes. Scientists from Skill Kemal University and Istanbul University in Turkey came to similar conclusions. According to their study, replacing red meat with white meat, fish, nuts and beans can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as improve glycemic control. Among other things, chicken boasts decent amounts of vitamin B6 and glutamine, a protein that supports the nervous system and immunity and helps fight stress. Turkey also has its advantages – for example, phosphorus. However, if you are allergic, it is better to limit your chicken consumption. Chicken protein is considered the most allergenic, especially compared to turkey, rabbit, and even beef. So, although chicken is the most affordable type of meat, it is not the healthiest. Gastroenterologist Sergei Vyalov, in turn, draws attention to the fact that chicken and turkey contain a surprising amount of fat. — When we think about the usefulness or harmfulness of any product, we first of all consider the fat content in it. More often such thoughts arise during cooking, especially frying, says Sergey Vyalov. – Surprisingly, lamb and beef contain the same amount – 16%. The record holder is pork. It provides 30–50% fat. But, as it seemed, dietary turkey and chicken are actually fattier than lamb – they have 22% and 18%. In addition, it would be nice for the liver to get more protein so as not to work too hard and provide the body with resources. The leaders here are lamb, beef, and rabbit – 25–30%. Chicken and pork have less – 17–20%. Sergey Vyalov – Candidate of Medical Sciences, gastroenterologist, hepatologist.


Experts point out that lamb is a fairly clean meat. You can’t feed sheep grain; they always eat grass. In addition, young lamb does not have a specific smell. However, lamb is contraindicated in patients with arthritis and the elderly. And if consumed in large quantities, it can lead to disruption of the thyroid gland – due to the low iodine content in lamb. In addition, constant consumption of lamb can cause disturbances in the functioning of the stomach (especially with high acidity) and intestines (with a tendency to stagnation). Another unpleasant point is that the fat in lamb is more refractory than that of other types of meat, which requires more digestive enzymes. Therefore, it is not recommended to consume lamb for pancreatitis.


Unfortunately, pork ended up at the very bottom of the meat rating. Let’s first look at how it can be useful, and then move on to the fly in the ointment. One hundred grams of lean pork ham contains 280 kcal, the same amount of neck contains 340 kcal, and ribs contain 320 kcal. But pork contains a lot of saturated fats, which can quickly make you fat. In addition, in large quantities, pork disrupts the blood lipid profile, which is bad for people with cardiovascular diseases. That is, if you already have problems, if your cholesterol levels are high, if you have a family history of cardiovascular diseases, then you are at risk and you need to be very careful with pork. If you have not observed anything similar in any of your close relatives, pork will not cause you serious harm. But this does not mean at all that you can lean on it – all because of the same abundance of saturated fats.

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