In a world where every major restaurant chain is trying to outdo its competitors with promises of more and more meat for your money, it’s not uncommon to find an absurd pile of different animal parts on your plate. Take the Meat Mountain Sandwich at Arby’s: “Stacked ridiculously high with almost all the meats. Two chicken tenders, slices of roast turkey, pit-smoked ham, corned beef, 13-hour smoked brisket, USDA-choice Angus steak, roast beef, and pepper bacon.”
Practically every food group is represented — if you’re an obese Tyrannosaurus Rex.
A less extreme example might be a shrimp cocktail served before a bacon-wrapped chicken breast.
Whatever the combination, consuming different types of meat in a single sitting has digestive problems written all over it. Here’s why, according to nutritionist Dr. David Friedman, author of Food Sanity: How to Eat in a World of Fads and Fiction:
“Fish takes 30 minutes to digest, chicken takes one and a half to two hours to digest and red meat (beef, lamb and pork) takes up to five hours to digest,” says Friedman. “That’s because red meat is protein-dense, and in comparison to fish and poultry, it requires more acid secretion by the stomach’s parietal cells and more active enzyme secretion by the pancreas for optimal digestion.”
This is all good and fine when you’re consuming each type of meat in separate meals throughout the day, but it’s a bit of a disaster if you eat them in tandem.
“When the body produces excessive acid to digest red meat — which isn’t necessary when eating chicken or fish — it can lead to digestive issues [like acid reflux, heartburn, abdominal pain and bloating],” Friedman explains, adding that red meats also hold up the digestion of chicken and fish when they’re all combined in the stomach, which may cause indigestion.
This doesn’t mean you have to swear off meat mashes altogether: Just stick to either red meats — beef, lamb and pork — or fish and chicken (yep, surf and turf is a definite belly bomb).
Alternatively, you could ignore this advice and pound Pepto-Bismol before and after every carnivorous meat binge. It’ll be costly, but it may just work.