Do You Need to Eat Meat to Build Muscle?

Whether your goal is cutting down your body fat percentage, building lean body mass, or both, you’ve probably heard mixed (and oftentimes strong) opinions about how eating meat can help or hinder achieving those goals.

Some say it’s integral to building or maintaining your body composition.

Others argue that eating meat is really bad for your health and eating it will prevent you of making the changes you want.

In this article, we’ll take an objective look into how eating meat impacts your body composition and your health.

We’ll review studies on both sides of the argument … so you’re armed with the knowledge to make your own decision about where you get your protein from.

This one’s going to be meaty, so let’s dig in (sorry, we couldn’t resist) …

Meat-Focused Diets:

What the Science Says

We’ll start by breaking down a handful of clinical studies that look at how meat impacts your weight and overall health …


In a large scale study called EPIC-PANACEA, the research team investigated the impact of total meat consumption, red meat, poultry, and processed meat on weight gain after 5 years. The study included over 370,000 European adults!

Researchers concluded that decreasing meat consumption was an effective strategy in improving one’s ability to manage his/her weight. So that’s it? Can just conclude that reducing meat intake will help us lose weight?

Not exactly. First of all, this study is observational and based on self-reported data. Secondly, it’s hard to truly assess whether meat was the problem or even if this higher meat intake was at the expense of vegetable intake, which we all know is important for our overall health and weight maintenance. Additionally, many argue for increased protein intake to increase satiety (fullness) and promote greater weight loss success.

As a result, a slew of researchers have disagreed with the conclusions made in this study …


Another study did not agree with the conclusions the authors made in the aforementioned study.

This research team stated that eating processed foods was the strongest predictor of disease and weight, not meat per se. They also argued that since no adjustment for dietary fat was performed in the study, it was impossible to distinguish between the effects of lean vs high fat meat. Finally, the most important shortcoming is that the observed weight changes may be due to changes i