As the population of the earth increases, so does the demand for beef. Unfortunately, the farmers can’t keep up with this demand, which has led to beef that comes from animals living in terrible conditions and receiving antibiotics to keep them healthy. This isn’t to say that all cows are raised this way, but as a consumer, you need to understand the difference and know how to find the best source of nutrition for your body.
The keto diet is focused on eating foods that are low in carbs and high in fat (the good kind), and making a commitment to a healthy lifestyle. There are a number of ways that grass-fed beef proves itself to be of great benefit to anyone on the keto diet.
In this article, we will share with you:
- What grass-fed beef is
- What organic beef is
- How grass-fed beef and grain-fed beef differ
- Seven nutritional benefits of grass-fed beef
- Why grass-fed beef is so nutritious
- How to find grass-fed beef
- How to cook grass-fed beef
You might think it’s redundant to say “grass-fed” and “beef” in the same sentence. However, beef is also produced from cows that are raised on grains alone. Grass-fed beef is made from cows that graze on open fields of grass. In the winter months, when grass is scarce, farmers may feed them alfalfa and some feed that is based in soy or corn, but the majority of their diet is foraged foods. Cows are grazing animals, and when they eat and move around the way they are supposed to, the beef they produce is full of nutrients. Not only that, but it is leaner as well. It doesn’t contain the “bad” fats.
Organic beef and grass-fed beef are two different things entirely. Grass-fed means that the cows were raised with grass as the food source, whereas organic means that the farmer has obtained a certification from the USDA that can take years to earn. Basically, organic beef lived on a farm that does not use GMOs (genetically modified organisms), pesticides, or sewer sludge. This means that organic beef can be grain-fed. They must eat organic grains and live in an environment that is humane. Grass-fed beef can be organic, but that doesn’t mean that organic beef is always grass-fed.
The Differences Between Grass-Fed and Grain-Fed Beef
The primary difference between grass-fed and grain-fed beef is the food source of the cows. Grass-fed beef eat grass and forage for the majority of their lives, and grain-fed beef eat grains made with corn or soy.
The rise of grain-fed cows comes from the high demand for beef in a growing worldwide population. Farming has shifted from smaller family-owned farms to commercial facilities that can produce a lot of beef. These grain-fed cows are often raised in CAFOs, which are concentrated animal feeding operations. These farms want to make as much money as possible in as short a time as possible, and they feed their cows whatever will make them the fattest the quickest. The cows do not graze or roam free on the land. They often live in small structures for their entire lives.
While not all grain-fed beef are raised in these facilities, many are, and it is difficult for the consumer to find out how their beef was raised. The reality is that cows that are raised in these conditions will produce meat that is less nutritious and more fatty.
On the other hand, grass-fed beef will be raised on pastures. These cows will be born and live on grass until the end of their lives. Farmers may supplement their diet with alfalfa or grains during the winter months when grass is scarce, but most of what they consume will be foraged foods. One way to be certain that you are consuming grass-fed beef is to find the American Grassfed Association (AGA) stamp of approval. This will certify that your beef is grass-fed.
The “7 Why’s” to Eat Grass-Fed Beef
1. Fewer Calories
When a cow eats grass, its diet is clean and natural. Cows were made to graze and roam. The fat content is lower because the cows are moving and build more lean muscle. Most cows start out the same way. They are born in a pasture, and they graze with their mothers while they grow. However, grain-fed cows move to feeding lots around one or two years of age. At this point, they eat grains, which fatten cows more quickly than grass does. Because grass-fed cows graze for their entire life, their meat is less fatty and has fewer calories.
2. Electrolytes Make it Keto-Friendly
The three main electrolytes are sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Electrolytes are essential to all people, but especially to those who are starting out on a keto diet. It is extremely important to replenish your electrolytes to combat the keto flu, and eating grass-fed beef will help you with this, as there are 732 milligrams of potassium, 49 milligrams of magnesium, and 118 milligrams of sodium in one grass-fed strip steak. This definitely makes it a healthy benefit to your keto diet.
3. Supports Normal Levels of Sugar in the Blood
Insulin is a hormone that is secreted by the pancreas to regulate your body’s sugar levels in the blood. When you eat carbohydrates, your blood sugar increases. In reaction, your pancreas secretes insulin, which helps send the glucose to your body’s cells for energy. Beef from grass-fed cows contains CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which is a fatty acid that can help to keep your insulin levels where they belong.
In fact, a recent study where people were chosen at random to consume beef from grass-fed cows found that 37% of those who received CLA had improved insulin sensitivity compared to people who didn’t have CLA.
For people on the ketogenic diet, eating grass-fed beef can help keep your insulin levels healthy. The keto diet is all about low carbs and high fat, which helps to prevent your body from producing excessive amounts of insulin just to regulate your blood sugar and maintain good energy levels throughout the day. This is especially the case for anyone who is insulin resistant.
4. Helps to Fight Cancer
One of the strongest nutrients that helps to defend the body against cancer is conjugated linoleic acid. CLA is an anticancer nutrient that is not commonly derived from meat; most of these kinds of nutrients are derived from plants. Grass-fed beef contains close to twice as much CLA as grain-fed beef.
A study was done where women were given food that was rich in CLA, and they were 60% less likely to develop breast cancer as compared to those who did not consume CLA.
5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats, and grass-fed beef contains as much as six times the amount of them as grain-fed beef. Not only that, but beef from grain-fed cows has high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids, already a large part of the typical American diet.
Increasing omega-3 intake can provide the following benefits:
- Alleviate Rheumatoid arthritis: Omega-3 fatty acids are known to effectively decrease inflammation markers.
- Depression: People who supplement with omega-3s have experienced an improvement in their mental state.
- Focus: In studies, omega-3s are being considered as a potential treatment for attention deficit disorders (ADHD).
- Helps to Avoid Food Poisoning
Grain-fed cows that live in facilities are routinely given antibiotic injections. The reality is that it is hard to control any outbreak of disease without vaccinating the entire herd. Bacteria have evolved over time due to the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, and there are now “super-bugs” that are resistant.
A large study by Consumer Reports looked at 300 samples of ground beef. They discovered MRSA in three grain-fed packages and none in any of the grass-fed beef packages. In addition, 18% of the grain-fed beef packages contained bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, whereas 9% of the grass-fed beef had the same results.
6. Decreases Chance of Heart Disease
In addition to the other benefits of CLA consumption, it has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Grass-fed beef contains CLA. In addition, eating grass-fed beef improves the health of your heart due to the following:
- Vitamin E and other antioxidants
- More omega-3s
- Fewer bad fats
- Smaller amounts of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol)
7. Grass-Fed Beef Is Packed Full of Nutrients
Grass-fed beef is a protein that is dense in nutrients. It can and should be a part of a healthy dietary program. It contains the following nutrients:
- Twice as much beta-carotene and lutein as grain-fed beef
- Close to three times as much CLA as grain-fed beef (500–800 milligrams of CLA)
- As much as three and a half grams of omega-3 fats (only 1 gram in grain-fed beef)
In addition, there is a ton of nutrition in one 214-gram strip steak, including the following:
- 49 grams of protein
- 49 milligrams of Magnesium – 12% DV
- 45 milligrams of omega-3s
- 0.3 milligrams of Riboflavin – 16% DV
- 14.3 milligrams of Niacin – 72% DV
- 1.4 milligrams of Vitamin B6 – 70% DV
- 28 micrograms of Folate – 7% DV
- 2.7 micrograms of Vitamin B12
- 1.5 milligrams of Pantothenic Acid – 15% mg
- 139 milligrams of Choline
- 16.3 milligrams of Betaine
- 19 milligrams of Calcium – 2% DV
- 4 milligrams of iron – 22% DV
- 454 milligrams of Phosphorus – 45% DV
- 732 milligrams of Potassium – 21% DV
- 118 milligrams of Sodium – 5% DV
- 7.7 milligrams of Zinc – 52% DV
- 45 micrograms of Selenium – 64% DV
The nutrients in grass-fed beef are a huge benefit, and it is one of the best choices to incorporate into your keto diet.
How to Find Grass-Fed Beef
You can actually find grass-fed beef in most supermarkets. If not, you can go to a farmer’s market or look up a local farmer nearby who keeps grass-fed cattle. In addition, there are websites that sell grass-fed beef online. You can try Butcherbox, a company that will mail the grass-fed beef to you, or EatWild.com is a directory that lists farms that raise grass-fed beef and their locations.
Many restaurants are carrying grass-fed beef as an option as well. You can always look up the menu of a restaurant online to see if they have it. Remember that grass-fed beef is beef from cows that were raised on grass or alfalfa for at least part of the year. Unfortunately, the USDA is no longer recognizing the term “grass-fed,” so you need to look for the AGA stamp or find a local farmer.
Cooking Grass-Fed Beef
Because grass-fed beef is less fatty and more lean, it cooks more quickly as compared to grain-fed beef. To get the most out of your grass-fed beef, keep the following in mind:
- Use a meat thermometer because grass-fed beef cooks a lot more quickly than beef from grain-fed cows.
- Use tongs to turn the meat over.
- Before you cook, preheat the grill or oven.
- Do not thaw in the microwave. Place it in the fridge and then let it sit for a half hour at room temperature.
- Cover it with olive oil or avocado oil to prevent it from drying out.
Grass-fed beef is more expensive than grain-fed, but what you get for your money is so much better. CATOs and huge agricultural enterprises sell their grain-fed beef for less money because it costs them less. They fatten the cows up with inexpensive grains, and they do it as quickly as they can. You may be getting beef, but it is nowhere near the quality. When you adopt the keto lifestyle, you are making a commitment to your health. It is always a good idea to select high-quality food that you can afford. The highest nutrition and the most benefit will come from grass-fed organic beef. Grass-fed beef is just as high quality, and the lack of an organic seal doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with it. If the cattle are raised on pastures in good conditions, the beef will contain the nutrients you want. What you pay for in beef will be savings because you won’t need to find those nutrients in other foods, as grass-fed beef is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat.