How Long Does Red Meat Stay in Your System?

Like all food, red meat stays in the body’s digestive system for at least 24 hours. It takes a little longer to digest than most other foods, however.

Immediately after eating, stomach acids begin to turn the solid food into paste. Around 30 minutes later, it moves into the small intestine; the total time food spends in the stomach and small intestine is around 6 to 8 hours. It is in the small intestine that most of the nutrients are absorbed. Then, the food moves into the large intestine for further digestion, water absorption and elimination. The total cycle is around 24 hours but, depending on the type of food, total elimination can take between one to four days. Because red meat takes longer for the body to digest, it can be assumed that its total transit time is more likely to be closer to four days than one.

Digestion times seem to vary between men and women, too. A study conducted by the Mayo Clinic in the 1980s measured that transit time in the large intestine averaged 47 hours for women and 33 hours for men. These time frames are longer than typical food digestion times because the study used markers that take longer to pass through the body than food.