Mike O’Hearn and Dr. Gabrielle Lyon believe red meat is important for long term health – and worry about the current generation being raised on less protein.

Compared to previous decades, non-meat diet culture is more popular than ever before. Whether it is due to moral, climate, or simply health reasons – many people are abandoning red meat from their diet (and even other meat-based proteins). Mike O’Hearn believes this is the wrong direction and has always considered red meat a super food. O’Hearn is obsessed with longevity in health in fitness – so his support of red meat is shocking in modern contexts considering that even Arnold Schwarzenegger has left red meat behind.

That’s why this week O’Hearn brought in an expert to help back up his support of a red meat diet. In Generation Iron and Barbend’s latest episode of The Mike O’Hearn Show, Dr. Gabrielle Lyon discusses the studies behind red meat and why it’s important for long term health – not a detriment.

If you’ve seen past episodes of The Mike O’Hearn Show, you’re likely already aware of O’Hearn’s stance on red meat. Counter to the rising popularity of non-red meat diets and even the growing popularity of full vegetarian and vegan diets – O’Hearn still values red meat. He has called it a super food on many occasions. And this isn’t just some past generation stubbornness. O’Hearn cares more about longevity while staying fit and muscular more than being unhealthy and a champion in the short term.

In fact, Mike O’Hearn believes that science doesn’t fully back up the concept that red meat is healthy. Modern social media (and even regular main stream media) held onto now-old studies villainizing red meat. Science has since changed and data shows that, when in combination with a healthy lifestyle, red meat is perfectly fine.

Helping him prove his point this week is Dr. Gabrielle Lyon. With 17 years of education in health science, Dr. Lyon received her doctorate in osteopathic medicine from the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine and is board-certified in family medicine.
She earned her undergraduate degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where she studied vitamin and mineral metabolism, chronic disease prevention and management and the physiological effects of diet composition. Let’s jump into it.

“Nutrition has become a religion”

– Mike O’Hearn


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Is Red Meat Unhealthy?

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon states that red meat is not scientifically bad for your health. Contrary to modern belief, she has researched many studies that are not able to absolutely prove the dangers of red meat. Looking even wider out to all meat – protein is a very essential nutrient in your diet. Not just for bodybuilders and athletes – but for all individuals.

Protein is vital for longevity in fitness and health. As is weight training well into middle age. The more on point you are with your diet throughout younger age (including protein) – the less likely you’ll see rehabilitating decline as you get over the hill. The same is true for consistent resistance training.

Why Do So Many Experts Warn Against Red Meat?

So why is there so much messaging against red meat today? Dr. Gabrielle Lyon talks about how modern fitness and health conversation has become distorted. With the new era of social media and constant information – group think can twist scientific data into a narrative.

The biggest factor behind the fear of red meat is the rest of your fitness lifestyle. Many nutrition studies are done to to represent the average person. So in that sense, many studies will mention that the average participant is sedentary. So while there may herhaps be risks behind red meat with a sedentary lifestyle – the same may not be true if you are consistently fit.

With that in mind, perhaps fearing red meat should be less of a concern. Instead, feat or a sedentary lifestyle should be a priority.

“There is no upper limit [for eating red meat].”

– Dr. Gabrielle Lyon

So Should You Eat Red Meat?

Ultimately, on an individual basis, perhaps red meat still isn’t best for you. It’s important to evaluate your lifestyle overall honestly. Mike O’Hearn can proudly claim to eat red meat and use it a super food. But that’s also because he is one of the most consistent bodybuilders to ever live. He lives his life as fit as possible. He also doesn’t over indulge. Too much of any substance is bad – no matter what it is.

You should also consider other factors outside of health. Perhaps you want to avoid red meat (or all meat) because of moral factors behind factory farming. Or perhaps the climate impact factory farming has on the environment. That’s totally fine. If that’s the past you choose – you should be extra focused on how you get your protein properly for longevity in your health.

Unfortunately, these worries can’t be pushed off until you are older. The most important time to be focus on being healthy is in your teens and twenties. What you do in your youth will have a direct impact on your health in older age. Rather than try and course correct after problems start occurring – start getting focused now so you can feel energetic and capable well past middle age.

Wrap Up

Towards the end of the interview, Dr. Gabrielle Lyon discusses the difference between absolute risk vs relative risk determined by research studies. She states that most research on red meat and health only report on relative risk. This means that there is not a direct one to one connection between red meat and health decline.

There are many factors that go into your health and how your diet affects it. Mike O’Hearn and Dr. Lyon believe that red meat is not pure evil. It’s not an absolute risk to have in your diet. But too much red meat, like anything, can be healthy. Also, depending on your current lifestyle and past health issues, the decision to keep or drop red meat may change.

You can watch Dr. Gabrielle Lyon’s full comments alongside Mike O’Hearn in the latest episode of The Mike O’Hearn Show above. Stay tuned every Friday for new episodes only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.