Does meat sit heavy in your stomach?

6 February 2021

Up until 2015 (I was in my 40s at the time), I believed that red meat sat heavy in my stomach and that I did better with being mostly vegetarian with the odd bit of chicken and fish.⁠

Why did I think this? Well, I was raised on a whole food, mostly vegetarian, diet. When I would stay the weekend at my father’s, who was the complete opposite and lived on roast dinners, I would always come home with constipation and a heavy gut. I was a very aware child when it came to food and my body!⁠

As a consequence, I avoided red meat for most of my adult life. I even went long periods (months to years) avoiding chicken, fish and eggs.⁠

What I didn’t realise was that protein digestion relies on three things:⁠

  • Adequate stomach acid⁠
  • Sufficient digestive enzymes⁠
  • A healthy gut⁠

What causes low stomach acid? ⁠

One reason for low stomach acid is low zinc. Meat and seafood are high in zinc. Beans and nuts are too, which my diet was very heavy in. But beans and nuts also contain phytic acid, which binds to zinc and other minerals, inhibiting their absorption. More on that in a future post.⁠

What causes insufficient enzyme production? ⁠

Inadequate bioavailable protein! The body uses the amino acids from digested protein to make enzymes. Bit of a vicious cycle!⁠

What causes poor gut health? ⁠

Well, years of eating foods that damage the gut lining. In my case, my diet was heavy in vegetable oils, which are highly inflammatory (I will write about these in a future post). My diet was also high in supposed healthy foods that can also damage the gut – more on that later too.⁠

Back to meat

There are so many people who think that meat is more difficult to digest than other protein foods. While this may be true for them, it is not normal (common, yes, but not normal).⁠

As I discussed above, it can either be a direct result of abstaining from meat for so long, or it can be due to other foods interfering with its digestion and absorption. As promised, more on that later.⁠

So how about you? Does meat sit heavy in your stomach?

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About Tira

About Tira

Tira Cole is a nutritionist, researcher and educator. Her passion is meat-based nutrition and support of farming.

Learn more about Tira.

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