Meat Digestion: Here's the Beef

A healthy digestive tract is one of many key indicators of a healthy human being. After all, you’ll almost always notice when your stomach just isn’t agreeing with you, or when it’s been a few too many days since you “dropped the kids off at the pool.” Many external factors can affect your digestion, from dietary choices/restrictions to age, medications, hydration levels, and even stress.

There exists a common myth, however, that certain foods will also affect your digestion, such as meat taking longer to digest than vegetables. If we’re talking about food allergies, then of course your stomach and intestines will take notice, but surprisingly enough, different sources will state that meat digestion isn’t quite that complicated.

The myth itself actually makes tons of sense on the surface. As your stomach is prepping to digest that Red Sea you just devoured at The Burger’s Priest, you’d think your stomach would make light work of breaking down the bun, but would have to take its time on the patty and chili. From a sheer sensory point of view, meat is heftier than other types of food. When you hold a kilo of ground beef, it may look around the same size as a loaf of bread, but it feels a lot heavier. There’s a reason that, in the English language, we use the word ‘meaty’ to describe things that are thick, full of substance, or bulky. This may equate to why people use that sensory comparison in the digestion of meat itself, but many journalists declare that digesting meat generally takes the same amount of time as any other food.

Science Focus is quick to correct when it comes to meat and veggies in the stomach, but it takes a moment to also describe a possible cause for the the myth to circulate. According to their article, “The widely held myth...probably stems from the fact a high-protein diet results in a lot of leftover ammonia, which must be removed in the form of urea by the kidneys...But in a normal, omnivorous diet, the meat will complete its journey through your digestive system in 12 to 48 hours, along with everything else.”

Everyday Health also clarifies the digestion claim in their list of debunked digestive myths. The article even touches on the ease of digestion between cooked and raw food! They concede, “...while it's true that fat can slow the digestive process, meat and vegetables take about the same amount of time to get through your digestive tract.” Looks like meat-eaters can still rejoice!

The myth of meat digestion can likely be chalked up to speculation, but that doesn’t mean you should always ignore the growls in your abdomen! Things like constant heartburn or excessive bloating might warrant a trip to the doctor. After all, meat allergies are becoming more and more common. Stay safe out there, and happy meat-eating to those who choose to!

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