You likely know the issues with factory-farmed meat (here’s a refresher, just in case). But according to Lustig, those animals actually have metabolic syndrome: When they’re corn-fed, he says, “branched-chain amino acids are being turned into fat in the liver, which is driving their hyperinsulinemia, which is driving their growth.” That’s why he suggests purchasing grass-fed beef, which doesn’t have as much fat marbled into the cuts of meat.
As for chicken, free-range or pasture-raised is typically your best bet. Although, says Lustig, you may see some questionable ingredients on nutrition labels, even ones deemed “all-natural” or “organic.”
“A lot of chicken breasts are dipped in salt solutions to swell them so that they can sell it for more [money],” he says, a process commonly known as “plumping” or “enhancing.” Lustig adds, “There’s a lot of extra liquid added to it very specifically to increase the price.” So if you see a percentage of salt, water, or spices on the label, that’s likely what it’s referring to. The liquid also keeps the bird more moist, juicy, and flavorful—if you see “natural flavor” on the label, it typically refers to a saline injection of salt, concentrated sugar and lemon, or broth.