Are meat smoothies a thing?

Meat smoothies have become increasingly popular in recent years, especially among bodybuilders, athletes, and others looking to increase their protein intake. But what exactly are meat smoothies? Are they safe? And do they really help build muscle?

What are meat smoothies?

Meat smoothies are exactly what they sound like – smoothies made with raw or cooked meat. While blending meat into a beverage may seem unappetizing or even unsettling to some, the concept has taken off in certain fitness communities.

Most meat smoothies contain a base of raw eggs or milk along with a meat like beef, chicken, turkey, lamb or fish. The meat is often cooked prior to blending to make it easier to process. Other common ingredients include fruits, vegetables, nut butters, protein powder, yogurt, or ice cream. The ingredients are combined in a high-powered blender until smooth.

Meat smoothies provide a substantial serving of protein, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. But they are also very high in calories, cholesterol, and fat. A 12-ounce meat smoothie may contain 50-100 grams of protein but 800 or more calories.

Who drinks meat smoothies?

Meat smoothies have grown in popularity among bodybuilders, powerlifters, CrossFit athletes, and others looking to build muscle and strength. Consuming very high amounts of protein is important for muscle growth and recovery after intense workouts. Liquid protein is also thought to be absorbed quickly into the body.

People who follow low-carb, high protein diets like the Paleo diet may also utilize meat smoothies. Going ‘carnivore’ and eliminating most carbs requires other hearty protein sources.

Those looking to gain weight or add muscle mass often struggle to meet their elevated calorie and protein needs through whole foods. Drinking a smoothie with raw eggs and meat can provide 50-100 grams of protein in one serving. Some also add protein powder, yogurt or nut butters to further increase the protein content.

Plant-based protein powders can be used too but often don’t provide a complete amino acid profile on their own. Adding meat or egg to a plant-based smoothie helps compensate for this.

Are meat smoothies safe?

Safety is one of the biggest concerns surrounding meat smoothies. Blending and drinking raw meat carries risks of foodborne illness. Just as you wouldn’t eat raw chicken breast, you shouldn’t drink uncooked chicken smoothies.

Salmonella and E. coli contamination are associated with raw meat, eggs, and dairy. Proper food safety protocols should be used when preparing meat for smoothies. The USDA recommends cooking beef, pork, lamb, and fish to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F. Cook poultry to 165°F. Eggs should also be pasteurized.

Using a high-powered blender can help break down fibers and provide a smooth texture, but doesn’t actually cook the meat. Lightly cooking meat before blending is recommended.

Food poisoning symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and cramping are not only miserable but can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. This could seriously impact an athlete’s training and performance. Those with compromised immune systems may be at higher risk of severe illness.

High intake of processed meats like hot dogs, bacon, and deli meats is also associated with increased cancer risk. These are not ideal choices for daily smoothies.

Proper food handling, storage, and hygiene can help mitigate risks when preparing meat smoothies.

Tips for safe meat smoothies

  • Cook meat to safe internal temperatures before blending
  • Use pasteurized egg products
  • Wash produce thoroughly
  • Keep raw meat/eggs separate from other ingredients
  • Clean blender thoroughly after use
  • Refrigerate promptly and consume within 24 hours
  • Avoid meat smoothies if immunocompromised

Do meat smoothies help build muscle?

The high protein content of meat smoothies does support muscle growth and recovery when paired with strength training. Protein provides the amino acids that are the building blocks for new muscle tissue. Consuming adequate protein is vital for muscle development.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for active individuals and muscle building. Endurance and strength athletes may need up to 2.0-2.5 grams per kilogram.

For a 180-pound person, that equates to 97-146 grams of protein daily. It can be challenging to meet these high protein needs through whole food sources alone.

Liquid nutrition is thought to be digested rapidly and nutrients absorbed quickly into the body. However, research has not conclusively shown liquid protein to be superior to whole food protein when total protein intake is matched.

While blending meat may provide a convenient protein boost, it is not a requirement for building muscle. Lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, nuts, seeds and protein supplements can all support muscle growth when combined with training.

Potential benefits of meat smoothies

  • High in protein for muscle building
  • Provides complete amino acid profile
  • Rapidly absorbable liquid protein
  • Allows intake of larger amounts of protein compared to solid foods
  • Calorie dense to support weight gain
  • May promote feelings of fullness

Potential downsides of meat smoothies

  • High in saturated fat and cholesterol if using fatty cuts of meat
  • Risk of foodborne illness from raw meat and eggs
  • May cause gastrointestinal issues if not tolerated
  • Unpleasant taste and texture
  • Labor intensive to prepare and clean up
  • Expensive compared to other protein sources

Are meat smoothies right for you?

Adding meat and eggs to smoothies can deliver a hefty dose of protein and calories. However, a well-planned diet should provide sufficient protein through balanced whole food meals and snacks.

Consult a registered dietitian or qualified sports nutritionist to find the right protein intake for your individual needs and goals.

Meat smoothies require proper handling and cooking to minimize food safety risks. Anyone experiencing side effects like nausea or diarrhea should avoid them.

For most people, meat smoothies are an unnecessary and potentially risky way to get protein compared to simpler, safer options. But they may benefit some athletes struggling to meet extreme protein and calorie needs.

Making your own meat smoothies

If you want to experiment with meat smoothies, here are some tips:

  • Choose lean cuts of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, or turkey.
  • Cook meat to safe internal temperatures before blending.
  • Pasteurize eggs by heating to 160°F.
  • Add nut butters, fruits, vegetables, yogurt or milk for flavor and texture.
  • Include healthy fats from avocado, nuts or seeds.
  • Use a high-powered blender for best consistency.
  • Refrigerate promptly and consume within 24 hours.
  • Start with small amounts of meat to assess tolerance.
  • Add supplements if desired, but don’t rely on protein powder as the sole protein source.

Sample meat smoothie recipes

Here are a few meat smoothie recipe ideas to get you started:

Beef smoothie

  • 1/2 cup cooked lean ground beef
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 cup ice

Chicken smoothie

  • 1/2 cup cooked chicken breast
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup frozen berries
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 cup coconut water

Salmon smoothie

  • 1/2 cup cooked salmon
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1 cup almond milk

Turkey smoothie

  • 1/2 cup shredded turkey breast
  • 1 cup carrot juice
  • 1/2 banana
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • Cinnamon to taste

The bottom line

Meat smoothies can provide very high amounts of protein and calories for muscle building goals. However, there are safety concerns with raw meat and eggs.

Cooked meat smoothies may offer benefits for some athletes trying to meet extreme protein needs. But for most people, a regular balanced diet can provide all the necessary protein through safer whole food options.

Anyone considering meat smoothies should consult a qualified nutrition professional and food safety guidelines first to avoid potential illness.

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