Most of us know that we're supposed to cut down on how much meat we include in our diet, but many of us don't know why. Eating cheeseburgers every day is obviously not the best for your waist line, but there are a number of other surprising effects of eating too much meat, many of which have greater effects than just affecting your weight. You don't necessarily have to cut out meat altogether to lessen these effects, but knowing what an overabundant intake of meat can do to your body meat encourage you to incorporate more Meatless Mondays into your life.
"I don't believe meat is bad for you, but it is more about the quantity and the quality of the meat that we consume," says Carrie Gabriel, MS, RDN over email. "In general, a portion of meat should be the size of the palm of your hand, which works out to around three ounces. However most people nowadays are not paying attention to the portions they consume, specifically at restaurants, where the portions are large and we tend to consume much more in a sitting than necessary."
To make sure you're keeping your health in check and not overdoing it with the roasted chicken or bowls of chili, pay attention to these nine surprising effects of eating too much meat.
One study from the University of Connecticut found a that high-protein diet can cause the kidneys to produce more concentrated urine, causing dehydration. This can affect everything from your energy levels, to your skin, to increased food cravings and even muscle cramps, according to Everyday Health.
2. Body Odor
Piling on the deodorant? You might be eating too much meat. "A study from the Journal Chemical Senses found that people who ate a non-meat diet had body odor that was judged as significantly more attractive, more pleasant, and less intense than the body odor of meat-eaters.
"Eating lots of meat in place of carbohydrates can lead to constipation, because meat provides no fiber," says Jenn LaVardera, MS RD over email. To alleviate any constipation, lower your intake of meat and up your intake of complex carbohydrates as well as fruits and vegetables.
It's no surprise that meat can cause headaches considering too much of it can be dehydrating. "Additionally, carbohydrates are fuel for the brain, so when we eat tons of meat and not enough carbohydrates, this can lead to headaches and poor mental function," says LaVardera.
5. Increased Risk Of Vision Loss
High consumption of red meat is linked to increased risk for age-related macular degeneration, the number one cause of blindness among older Americans. "The reason behind that link is that the saturated fat in meat is thought to be harmful to the tiny blood vessels of the eyes," says Julie Upton, MS, RD over email. "Some of the chemicals (nitrosamines) in some processed meats are also thought to be a culprit in harming eyes."
6. Weak Bones
"Super high amounts of protein can increase the urinary loss of calcium, which is essential for building strong bones," says Gabriel. "This can be prevented by consuming enough calcium in the meantime, but it is something a lot of people don’t think about when eating high protein diets."
If you always feel tired, it might be your diet, not your sleep, that's causing the fatigue. "Overconsumption of meat can make you feel tired if you are not digesting it properly," says Gabriel. "This is because meat is inherently harder on our system to digest because it requires more work."
8. Bad Breath
Always reaching for those mints? Your diet may be to blame. "A diet too high in protein and fat with not enough carbohydrates can cause the body to produce ketones," says Jaime Gnau, a dietetic intern at Missouri State University, over email. "Ketones are released through the breath and cause it to smell like acetone."
9. Gut Issues
"Our gut bacteria have a profound effect on our health and what we eat is important in making sure our good bacteria outnumber the bad," says Gnau. "They need complex carbohydrates to thrive, specifically fiber from fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. High-protein diets are typically low in these foods, and this may cause a number of health issues associated with poor diversity in gut bacteria."