Why red meat causes constipation and how to handle it

Can red meat cause constipation?

The answer is yes it can. I will explain in detail and I will tell you how to eat red meat without getting constipated.

Meats that look red when raw is called red meat. Beef, lamb, and pork are come under this category. Chicken is not because it doesn’t look red and it contains only small amounts of myoglobin.

Myoglobin is a red coloured pigment found in the muscles. Like haemoglobin, myoglobin has large amounts of iron.

Eating too much red meat can cause constipation. There are two main reasons for that.

Red meat causes constipation because of its high iron content

red meat causes constipationRed meat such as lamb is an excellent source of iron. From 100 g of lamb, you will get 1.9 mg of iron. The same amount of chicken has only 1.2 mg of iron.

Some people eat beef or lamb liver. The liver contains very high amounts of iron. For example, 100 g of lamb liver have 10.2 g of iron. That amount is more than the daily requirement for an average adult.

Too much iron in your diet can make the stools hard. That is the number one reason for constipation due to eating red meat.

Related: Iron supplements and constipation.

Red meat doesn’t have fibre

Dietary fibre is essential for regular bowel movements. It absorbs water in the large intestine and swells up. It makes your stools soft and bulky, that is easy to pass.

Fruits, vegetables, and grains are the main sources of dietary fibre. Red meat doesn’t contain fibre. When you eat lots of red meat, you tend to avoid other foods that are rich in fibre. That is the second reason for your constipation.

Note: Some studies show that eating large amounts of processed red meat can increase the risk of developing bowel cancer. Constipation is one of the main symptoms of bowel cancer. I will explain these issues in a separate article.

How to enjoy red meat without getting constipated

  • Eat red meat in moderate amounts. Eating 100 -200 g two or three times a week won’t cause any problems.
  • Include plenty of vegetables and fruits in your diet.
  • Avoid eating organ meats such as liver, kidney, and heart.
  • Drink plenty of water with your meals.
  • You can take a fibre supplement such as Metamucil.
  • Try lamb, sweet potato, and feta salad. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of fibre. That will help you avoid constipation while enjoying the lamb. You can find a recipe here.

Bottom line:

Eating too much red meat can cause constipation and other bowel problems. However, you don’t need to avoid eating it. You can add lots of vegetables to your diet to avoid these problems.