We all know a balanced meal includes a serving of lean meat (approximately 3 oz), vegetables, and complex carbs. This dietary equation gives the body the right fuel to burn fat and remain energized throughout the day. Whether in the dieting or the maintenance phase of weight loss, it is imperative to choose meat that has a low fat/high protein ratio. Enter: the skinless, boneless chicken breast. We're definitely not knocking it, it definitely fits our profile: a 3 oz serving of chicken breast is 92 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 30 grams of protein. However, it's not the only partner on our dance card, here are 5 other lean meat options to add some variety to your diet - while keeping to your diet.
- The Other White Meat
No doubt about it, pork has a bad reputation - "the other white meat" has been blamed for having high fat content and causing trichinosis. It's time to reconsider the pig. Reports from the USDA has shown that on an average, today's pork contains 40% less saturated fat and 24% less fat overall vs. pork of 15 years ago. Due to healthier feed being given to pigs, vitamins B6 and niacin in pork has risen over the past 20 years. The leanest cut is Pork tenderloin - if you're still worried about trichinosis, which is pretty rare (no pun intended) make sure to cook the pork all the way through.
Pork Tenderloin Stats (3 oz serving): 101 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 18 grams of protein
- "Slip A Shrimp On The Barbie"
Australian comedian Crocodile Dundee may have made the phrase famous but shrimp has always been a delicious and relatively low-fat food option. Also low in saturated fats, these small crustaceans pack a mean amount of protein and nutrients. Shrimp are an excellent source of selenium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. There is some conjecture that eating shrimp often is dangerous due to its high cholesterol but studies have also shown that shrimp also raise HDL levels (good cholesterol) and decreases triglycerides. We'll leave it up to you to decide but everything in moderation, is what we say!
Shrimp Stats (3.5 oz serving): 144 calories, 2.35 grams of fat, and 28 grams of protein
- Turkey Is NOT Just For Thanksgiving
Unlike gorging yourself at Thanksgiving on turkey (and sides) and then blaming the "tryptophan" for making you sleepy, a 4 oz serving of extra lean turkey breast is an excellent meat to include in a diet. Turkey contains a high amount of folic acid, and is a great source of vitamins B, B1, B6, zinc and potassium. If the question is which came first, the chicken or the turkey, this popularity contest is pretty even: chicken may have more protein per serving but turkey has less fat. Both are pretty comparable when it comes to caloric intake and tastiness. We suggest using ground turkey for making burgers or as a low calorie taco meat alternative.
Extra Lean Ground Turkey Stats (4 oz serving): 120 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, and 26 grams of protein
- Swish, Swish, Fish Is Fun
Not only is fish fun, white fish such as tilapia and sole are fairly inexpensive to purchase and when cooked properly, delicious. White fish, as a counterpart to oily fish such as salmon or trout, has very little oil in the body which only accumulates in the liver. Some experts argue that white fish have less toxins due to their lower oil levels. Extremely low in fat, most white fish are rich in iron, phosphorous, B vitamins such as niacin (B3) which promotes healthy cells and eliminate toxins and pyridoxine (B6) which keeps skin, the nervous system and red blood cells healthy. We recommend steaming or grilling white fish to take advantage of it's low fat content.
Tilapia Stats (4 oz serving): 108 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, and 24 grams of protein
- Bring On The Bison
If you simply must have red meat, we simply must insist on bison. Studies have shown that buffalo meat is one of the most nutrient-rich meats available. Low in fat and high in protein, bison is also an excellent source of iron, zinc, phosphorus, niacin, vitamin B6 and B12. According to the National Bison Association, buffalo spend their lives on grass, much as they always have, with very little time in the feedlot and are not subjected to questionable drugs, chemicals or hormones. As such, bison may taste a bit different from beef but may be healthier. Bison is available ground (for burgers) or in steak format but adjust cooking - since it is less fatty, less time is needed to cook bison.
Lean Bison Ribeye Stats (3 oz serving): 99 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 19 grams of protein
It is very important to remember that it's not just choosing the right low fat/high protein meat, it is also in how the meat is prepared. Similar to preparing skinless boneless chicken breasts in a healthy manner, we recommend steaming, broiling and grilling these other options - add spices and seasoning to your heart's delight for more flavor. Obviously, avoid butter, heavy cremes, and sauces that may add extra and often unnecessary calories to a delicious cut of meat. Under no circumstance, should you bread or fry any of the above options when trying to lose weight and eat healthily.