How Long Does It Take Meat to Digest?

long-meat-digest Credit: jeffreyw/CC-BY-2.0

According to research published by the Mayo Clinic, the average adult human requires 53 hours to completely digest any food and eliminate the associated waste products. The average digestion time for children is 33 hours. These times apply to all foods.

Because red meat is flavorful, chewy and often fatty, many people feel that it remains in their digestive tracts much longer than produce and grains. According to Everyday Health, this is inaccurate. This misconception is especially common among individuals who suffer from acid reflux disease or other digestive ailments that cause chronic discomfort in the digestive tract. Health Magazine reveals that another common digestive myth is that all types of meat are difficult to digest. In fact, lean meats such as chicken, pork and bison are easy to digest.

When food enters the digestive tract, it slides down the esophagus and into the stomach. The mass of food, called the bolus, sits in the stomach for four to eight hours. During this time, digestive acids break it down into a slurry. This makes it easier for the small intestine to absorb nutrients from the bolus. As it passes through the small bowel and into the large intestine, the body absorbs water from the food. The remaining solid matter then progresses into the rectum to await elimination.