Is Red Meat Harder To Digest? See How Long It Takes

Meat is hard to digest, particularly red meat. This is because the protein in red meat is more complex for us to break down, which can cause intolerance and allergies.

Naturally, the human body comes equipped with specialized enzymes that help break down the tough proteins and fats in meats like beef. But beef digestion is more challenging for the body than some plant-based foods.

While someone might thrive when eating a meat-heavy diet, another might notice stomach pain or diarrhea after eating red meat. Anything that throws the body out of balance can cause problems.

In this article, I will discuss red meat, its nutritional values, and common signs to tell that your body isn’t digesting meat well.

Overview of red meat

Red meat is the meat of mammals, which is usually red when raw. This is because of a myoglobin substance that is present in red meat. Any meat that contains no or shallow myoglobin is classified as white meat.

Beef, pork, venison, lamb, and boar are examples of red meat. Chicken, rabbits, turkey, and other meats from fowl or birds are considered white meats. They are mainly white when cooked.

SEE: The Top Red Meat Animals

Nutritional information on red meat

Red meats provide a lot of nutrients. According to the USDA, 4 ounces (100 gram) of beef provides;

  • Calories: 280
  • Protein: 18g
  • Fat: 22g
  • Carbohydrates: 0g

Red meat also contains Vitamin B12 (water-soluble nutrient necessary for nervous system functioning), Zinc (a mineral that is vital for the immune system), Selenium, Niacin (Vitamin B3), and Iron.

The protein in beef is very rich and contains all the essential amino acids that you must get from food. The body needs protein for muscle and tissue development and maintenance.

SEE: Steroids vs Creatine: Differences, Uses, And Side Effects

Why is red meat harder to digest?

Despite the fact that meat is full of nutrients, it contains several natural chemical toxins, saturated fat, and elements that make it difficult for us to digest.

Foods high in protein and fat can be hard to digest, and they are more difficult for the body to break down than carbohydrates. Overeating meat can have some consequences, ranging from increasing the risk of diabetes to heart disease and even cancer.

SEE: Is Rabbit meat Considered Red Meat?

How long does it take to digest red meat?

Red Meat takes about four to six hours to digest. Your digestion starts from chewing the moment you start eating anything. Your digestive juices start working on it and transform it into a rough mash.

This mash moves down to the stomach, where it gets mixed and mashed even more, further moving to the intestines. This process varies in the case of meat, grains and vegetables.

Meats leave a lot of ammonia which is flushed in form of urea by the kidneys. This process requires lots of water; therefore, you must drink plenty to digest meat faster.

What are the signs your meat isn’t digesting properly?

1. Constipation

Most cuts of meat are pretty high in fat. Fats take more time to be digested by the body, which is why they can cause indigestion the next day.

Constipation can result from the high iron found in red meats (beef, pork, or lamb). Besides that, red meat is low in fiber, which is essential for regular bowel movements.

2. Bad breath and body odor

If meat is not well digested, a smelly odor goes back out of your digestive system and eventually makes its way into your breath. If you notice this symptom, try taking digestive enzymes to assist in breaking the meat down.

3. Weakened immune system

When your body doesn’t digest meat properly, you might get sick more often than usual. Your immune system can also be affected because of the natural sugar found in red meat, which is often hard for our bodies to digest.

4. Fatigue

If you feel very sluggish or tired after eating meat, don’t assume it is normal behavior. It means that your body is not digesting the beef and is stuck in your bowels, which diverts all your energy to your digestive system.

5. Bloating

One of the hardest foods for the human body to digest are meat products. This is usually because the protein present in meat (especially red meat) is more complex for your body to break down, which can cause bloating.

6. Dark circles under your eyes

If you get dark cycles under your eyes after eating meat, especially the next day it is a sign the meat has not been digested properly.

How can you digest red meat faster?

Various key steps may help your body digest your meat faster and effectively. Some of these steps include;

1. Chew your meat properly

It is vital to chew your meat long enough to help them break down and release gastric acid in your stomach. This will make the stomach environment much more acidic, further helping digest meat faster.

2. Eat some fruit slices

Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain, which helps break down the bonds between proteins, allowing your meat to digest better.

You can also eat papaya. It contains an enzyme compound called papain that facilitates the digestion of protein.

SEE: Can You Freeze Pineapple and Still Have It Taste Good

3. Try marinating your meat

One of the best ways to help the meat digest faster is to marinate it with acid such as vinegar. The overnight acid marinating will ensure protein breaking down, increasing its digestibility.

4. Moderate your portions

Try to eat red meat only in conservative amounts, 100 – 200g, preferably just twice a week, with lots of vegetables or grains. Try to avoid eating kidneys and liver.

5. Drink lots of water

Water helps digestion, and you should drink lots of water after eating meat to help the digestion process.

SEE: Does Distilled Water Ever Go Bad?


Is red meat harder to digest than chicken?

Yes, it is. Lean cut meats such as chicken digest fast.

Why does red meat upset your stomach?

It could be that you have allergies or the red meat is not adequately cooked.

What is the hardest food to digest?

Fried and fatty foods are the hardest to digest.

Which meat is easier to digest?

Poultry meat tends to digest faster than other kinds of meats.


Meat takes a more extended period to digest than other foods. However, by following the above steps, you can always ensure an easy digestion process.

Fattier cuts of beef will be more difficult for the body to digest, so if you find that you are having trouble digesting beef, choosing leaner cuts can help. Chew the meat thoroughly before swallowing to aid digestion once the meat reaches the stomach.

To ease your digestion process, avoid eating large amounts of meat. If you continue to have trouble digesting your meat, you should see your doctor; you could have an intolerance or allergy to meat.

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