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How switching to grass-fed meat can help you burn fat.

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How switching to grass-fed meat can help you burn fat.

This statement may ellicit a double-whammy 'whaaaaaaaat?!' from some. Red meat has long been the butt of conventional health advice - bad! Artery clogging! Colon-eroding! To paint it as a health food is still met with raised eyebrows. And drawing the distinction between conventional and grass-fed & finished takes the idea one step further - into unchartered pastures. Proposing that red meat can not only be healthful but can potentially ASSIST with weight loss is a truth, as yet, universally unacknowledged.


Except for the Enliven tribe! We know you lot are savvy, well-read and health-conscious folk. Instead of backing away slowly, you're likely on board with the latest - everything we thought we knew about nutrition is wrong, and Grandma had it sorted. It should come as no surprise to you that red meat contains beneficial compounds that foster health & vitality - not supress it. As long as the animal was healthy, that is. Enter: grass-fed & finished meat.


How grass-fed & finished meat can help your body burn fat


We've already covered why cholesterol ain't the bad guy, and how foods such as butter make our bodies sing - so you're up to speed with saturated fats being maaaarvelous for us (not diabolical disease-promoting agents). There's a specific type of fat in grass-fed meats (and also in high-quality dairy products) called conjugated linoleic acid - or CLA. This fatty acid is found in 3-5 times higher concentrations in animals grazing on pasture as opposed to those fed grain-based or supplemented diets (1).


CLA has been shown to increase our basal metabolic rate & preserve a better muscle:fat ratio (2).


It may also increase muscle strength & exercise endurance (3).


While CLA primes your body to use food efficiently for fuel - not store it as fat - you'll also be working out harder. Two birds, one dumbell - as the saying goes.




What else is good about CLA?


The benefits of CLA don't stop at weight management.


It's been pinned as a potent anti-cancer compound, not only preventing cancer but reducing existing tumors (4). This has been demonstrated specifically in breast, colorectal, lung, skin & stomach (5).


It may help those with insulin resistance (6). CLA was shown to exhibit similar effects to synthetic diabetic drugs, and helped in proper glucose management.


Oh, and then there are the studies detailing benefits for asthma, inflammatory bowel-disease, arthritis, brain health & allergies. Y'know, nothing major.


But...the animal must have eaten grass!


Ruminants & cud-chewing animals such as cows, goats & sheep have specific microorganisms in their stomachs that convert oleic acid (a type of fatty acid) into CLA. This only happens when they have the necessary input: fresh, green, rapidly-growing grass.


Studies found that the more dried food and/or grain supplementation an animal was given, the lower the CLA (and Omega-3) content of their meat (7).


The moral of the story?


There is infinite value in eating organic/free-range/grass-fed. It goes beyond taste & fashion and extends to the subtlest, most profound health benefits. We share articles about specific nutrients & scientific findings not to fixate on the minutiae, but to feed into a bigger vision. One that sees naturally farmed produce as always superior to environmentally un-friendly, mass-produced, pesticide-laden & rapidly consumed fare. We're unearthing facts to confirm this every day - yet the moral is always the same: what is good for the world is good for us, and vice versa. The fact that it can help make us leaner is pretty nice too!


(You can check out all our favourite grocery items - including the very best local, grass-fed meat - at our Enliven Organics store. We've collected all our favourite staples, spices, household goods, supplements & treats in one convenient location. And ordering's a breeze!)




1. Dhiman, T. R., G. R. Anand, et al. (1999). "Conjugated linoleic acid content of milk from cows fed different diets." J Dairy Sci 82(10): 2146-56. Interestingly, when the pasture was machine-harvested and then fed to the animals as hay, the cows produced far less CLA than when they were grazing on that pasture, even though the hay was made from the very same grass. The fat that the animals use to produce CLA is oxidized during the wilting, drying process. For maximum CLA, animals need to be grazing living pasture.


2. Atkinson R. L. Conjugated linoleic acid for altering body composition and treating obesity. Advances in Conjugated Linoleic Acid Research (AOCS Press, Champaign, IL). 1999; 1:328-353


3. Farreira M., Kreider R., Wilson M., Effects of CLA supplementation during resistance training on body composition and strength. J. Strength Conditioning Res. 1998; 33:521-7


4. Ip, C, J.A. Scimeca, et al. (1994) "Conjugated linoleic acid. A powerful anti-carcinogen from animal fat sources." p. 1053. Cancer 74(3 suppl):1050-4.


5. Aro, A., S. Mannisto, I. Salminen, M. L. Ovaskainen, V. Kataja, and M. Uusitupa. "Inverse Association between Dietary and Serum Conjugated Linoleic Acid and Risk of Breast Cancer in Postmenopausal Women." Nutr Cancer 38, no. 2 (2000): 151-7.


6. Choi JS, Koh IU, Jung MH, Song J. Effects of three different conjugated linoleic acid preparations on insulin signalling, fat oxidation and mitochondrial function in rats fed a high-fat diet.  British Journal of Nutrition. 2007 Aug;98(2):264-75.


7. Ponnampalam EN1, Mann NJ, Sinclair AJ. Effect of feeding systems on omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid and trans fatty acids in Australian beef cuts: potential impact on human health, Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2006;15(1):21-9.




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