Including meat in a well-balanced diet is a way to get a sufficient amount of high-quality protein. You don’t need to give up meat just because you’re trying to lose weight. The key is to stick with lean meats because they contain less total fat, as well as lower amounts of saturated fats.
The United States Department of Agriculture defines lean and extra lean meat according to the amount of fat that is in a 3-oz. serving. Lean meat must contain less than 10 g of total fat, including fewer than 4.5 g of saturated fat. To qualify as extra-lean, a 3-oz. serving should have less than 5 g of total fat and 2 g of saturated fat.
Beef and Pork
Look for cuts of meat labeled as “round” or “loin,” such as sirloin and center loin pork chops. Trim as much of the visible fat as possible and avoid cooking methods, like frying, that add fat content. According to the Medical University of South Carolina, four good beef choices are eye round roast, sirloin tip side steak, top round and bottom round roasts. A 3-oz. serving of each provides 4.0 to 4.9 g of total fat and 1.4 to 1.7 g of saturated fat. Pork tenderloin and pork chops contain 3.0 and 5.2 g of total fat, respectively, with 1.0 to 1.8 g of saturated fat.
Be sure to keep the meat as lean as possible by removing the skin and any visible fat. Comparing chicken to turkey, you’ll find that turkey breast is the best choice, followed by chicken breast, turkey legs and chicken legs. A 3-oz. skinless chicken breast delivers 3.1 g of total fat and 0.9 g of saturated fat, while a skinless turkey breast has 0.6 g of total fat and 0.3 g of saturated fat. Chicken legs contain 7.2 g of total fat and 1.8 g of saturated fat, while turkey legs are about the same as a chicken breast, with 3.3 g of total fat and 1.2 g of saturated fat.
The New York Seafood Council lists more than 25 types of fish that have less than 2.5-percent fat in a 3-oz. serving. Choices such as cod, flounder, perch, red snapper and shrimp contain 0.9 to 1.8 g of total fat in each 3-oz. serving. They’re especially low in saturated fat, delivering only 0.1 to 0.3 g. The important thing to remember about fish is that it provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Cod has 241 mg, red snapper and shrimp have about 293 mg, perch has 405 mg and flounder delivers 478 mg per serving. Tuna steak is another good choice. While it contains 5.3 g of total fat, it also delivers a whopping 1,414 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per serving.
- Medical University of South Carolina: Choosing and Cooking Lean Meats
- New York Seafood Council: Fat in Fish
- American Heart Association: Meat, Poultry and Fish
- Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.