Meat and gout on Atkins – how much meat can you eat ?

Page 7 of 10 about The Atkins diet and gout.

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This page about meat and gout on the Atkins diet was last reviewed, or updated, on 6 April 2015.

Meat on the Atkins diet

If you look at this table of high purine foods you'll see that beef, lamb, pork, plus "white" meat chicken and turkey - all allowable on the Atkins diet - are not high purine foods, they are medium purine. And that fruits and vegetables, many of which are allowable, on the On-going Weight Loss phase of the Atkins diet, are usually medium or low purine. Moreover, a large study found that even purines-wealthy vegetables do not increase the risk of getting gout (7).

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Everyone has heard that you can eat plenty of  meat on the Atkins diet. Some blame meat for causing gout attacks. I trust this is because meat is among the last foods they ate before their gout attack and the food with the highest purines.

Salmon, trout and tuna have more purines than beef and pork and lamb. But when did you last hear of someone talking about salmon, trout or tuna causing a gout attack? And chicken breast has more purines in the table above than various cuts of beef but that doesn't stop chicken being more recommended for gout than beef.  

On the other hand, even the purines in medium purine food such as beef, pork and lamb might trigger a gout attack, especially if you eat a lot.

Meat and gout is a hot topic, but meat is not necessarily the villain.

Meat did not raise uric acid or gout flares In the study described on
 page 1 of our Atkins diet and gout pages, (8) based on the Zone Diet, a widely quoted study,  meat consumption was not decreased, although participants already had gout. But in some cases in this diet-study, gout attacks had not been reported after 16 weeks on this diet, and overall gout attacks' frequency fell - it was not the Atkins diet, it was not a low purine diet.

And after one year, five of nine patients had not had another gout attack and three had just one, whereas before the study began participants had at least two gout attacks in the previous four months. Meat had not caused gout attacks on this diet, at least in the five who had not had another attack, neither had the fish which you will recall if you read this page, they were encouraged to eat four times a week.

When Robert Atkins reported the uric acid results of his patients, and although he was never certain uric acid would always fall, he did not say in his books that it rose on his diet. Most of his patients must have been eating meats. And there have been studies where meat did not raise uric acid.

But meat was a risk for gout in this widely quoted study, but not so much of one at moderate amounts. In Purine-Rich Foods, Dairy and Protein Intake, and the Risk of Gout in Men (7) the researchers tracked the diets of 47,150 men with no prior history of gout over a 12 year period. During this 12 year period, 730 men were diagnosed with gout.

So the diets of men who developed gout were put under a statistical microscope. The researchers found that one serving of meat in general a day is associated with a slight risk of gout. Two servings increases the risk by 41% compared to people who ate slightly less than a serving a day. And an additional serving of meat daily increased the risk of gout by 21%. Among meat items the increased risk of gout was only from beef, pork and lamb.

In this study the following meats were not associated with a risk of gout: sausage; salami; bologna; bacon (yes bacon despite the findings about pork); hot dogs and hamburgers; chicken and turkey; and chicken and beef liver!  Although,all the purines tables I have ever seen say that liver is high purine ! Hmmm. Corned beef (brisket of beef)  and ham (pork) were not explained.

These findings were more relevant among men over 40.

The men who got gout, in fact the whole study population, were not on anti-gout diets, nor using natural treatments for gout. So some of the other factors affecting uric acid not included would have been water or alkaline water drinking, pH levels, vitamin and minerals intake, and consuming gout positive foods such as cherries and celery, and eating low purine foods. 

To put this another way.. If someone eating meat twice a day, (in addition to other foods) also drank alkaline water, (or two litres of plain water daily to dilute uric acid) and took 
at least 500 mg of vitamin C daily and the flavonoid quercetin and ensured he/she had more than 140 mcg of folate in his/her diet every day, and ate cherries  or celery every day or other day in some form, would his/her risk of gout be 41% above the person who did none of these things but just ate a single portion of meat daily with his/her other foods ?

And would an extra meat serving mean an additional 21% risk of gout? I doubt it, and I could give other and somewhat similar scenarios with other natural treatments for gout, but you get the idea. What do you think? 

Did Atkins dieters avoid high purine foods? We don't know. But it isn't likely because very few of his dieters would have been gout sufferers. Dr.Atkins never discussed this point in his books. But with the Atkins diet, gout should have a better chance of being improved through falling uric acid levels if you also avoid high purine foods. Avoiding high purine foods may reduce uric acid by 1 - 2 mg/dL, a useful reduction.

The risk of fish Fish is low/no carb so it’s an Atkins food. The risk of gout from seafood in general in this study (7) seemed to be a bit higher and tuna was one of the highest, along with what was described as dark meat fish - probably including sardines and mackerel, both high purine.

A headline statement from the study about fish is... people eating above half a serving of fish a day (this is statistics - the researchers had to adjust for lower fish intake) had a 51% greater chance of getting gout than those who hardly ate fish in a day. All items of fish were associated with an increased risk of gout.  

Recommendation about meat and gout A simple recommendation about meat intake is eat meat no more than three or four times a week, and if you enjoy beef, lamb and pork, 4 - 6 ozs of these, once a week. On the findings of this study, this would give you about the same risk of gout as eating shrimp, lobster or scallops once a week and a bit less than other fish. 

This study is telling gout sufferers to be careful with the type and amount of meat and seafood you eat on the Atkins diet.


Beef for gout

Best beef for gout. Purines throughout the cow's body are not the same in every prime cut. So which are the best beef cuts for gout ?

Atkins diet and gout 

Go to page 1 of 10 about gout and the Atkins diet, where I explain why it might be good for your gout.

Go to page 2 of 10 about the Atkins diet and gout.What Robert Atkins said about his diet and the uric acid level

Go to page 3 of 10 of our Atkins diet and gout section. More about what Robert Atkins himself said about his diet and gout.

Go to page 4 of 10 where where I explain our modifications to the Atkins diet for gout sufferers.

Go to page 5 of 10 The Atkins diet and the insulin resistance cause of gout.

Go to page 6 of 10 - my Atkins diet success story.

Go to page 8 of 10 for free Atkins diet resources

Go to page 9 of 10. What has been said about ketosis and uric acid.

Go to page 10 of 10 which lists the gout studies, study abstracts, other relevant studies and books used as background whilst preparing the pages on the Atkins diet for gout.

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