This Week's Get Fit Challenge: Give Up Meat For a Week

Now that we've seen (and felt) what it's like to cut back on sugar and give up dairy for a week, it's time for another healthy eating challenge. Forget Meatless Monday — our newest challenge is all about nixing meat for a week. Read on for why and how you should cut out meat for the next seven days.

Why You Should Do It

Lean meats like fish, poultry, and certain cuts of beef are a great way to get protein, B vitamins, and other vital nutrients, but it's easy to go overboard when it comes to portion sizes. In fact, the average American eats around 270 pounds of meat every year, well over the pound a week that some researchers recommend. If you're a constant meat eater and you're always choosing meat as your main, you may be missing out on other vital nutrients found in fruits and veggies. Add to that the fact that some meats are high in saturated fats and cholesterol — not to mention the fact that studies have shown a link between processed meat consumption and early death — and you'll see that it can be a good idea to cut your meat habit, at least temporarily.

How to Do It

Cutting out meat isn't as easy as opting for a salad over a burger: you'll need high-protein, plant-based foods to give you energy and ensure you're not eating junk in place of your normal meat habit. Today, plan out a week's worth of nonmeat meals in order to ensure you're actually using this week to your advantage — that is, swapping out those saturated fats and processed meats for high-nutrient substitutes. Make sure every meal has a mix of protein and carbs for sustainable energy. These links can help:

After Your Challenge

At the end of the week, see how giving up meat has made you feel — you may find that you've even lost weight! If you've realized that your meat-eating habits need to change, read our tips on ways to go almost meatless and tips on how to be a healthy meat eater. Choosing lean cuts and seasoning with herbs instead of salt are just two ways you can have your meat and eat it, too.

Be sure to enter our Get Fit 2014 Giveaway for a chance to win $1,000 worth of Champion Athleticwear and a three-night stay for you and a friend at the tranquil and inspirational Red Mountain Resort in Utah! Follow our 31 Days of Fitness workout program to rock your New Year with daily workouts.