Meat, Poultry And Fish…Go Ahead and Enjoy the Trio

Weightloss 5

Meat, poultry and fish provide protein as well as minerals and fat soluble vitamins. Each cut of meat provides various amounts of proteins and the trace minerals plus some fat soluble vitamins. Understanding which cuts of meat offer the best protein sources is important in selecting meats that promote healthy weight loss. Ideally meats that are low in fat, particularly visible fat, are the best protein option. For this reason low fat cuts of beef, marketed as lean meats, as well as fish and seafood and skinless poultry are all good sources of protein that are low in saturated or unhealthy fats.

The Best Cuts Of Red Meats

 Not all cuts of beef that appear to have low amounts of visible fats are actually classed as lean cuts of meat. This is because the fat can be marbled throughout the meat itself and therefore is almost invisible unless the meat is cut into. However, new demands by consumers have led to clearer labeling of beef to help those wanted to stay health and fat conscious. To be considered lean, the cut of beef must have less than 10 grams of fat with no more than 4.5 grams of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3 ½ ounce serving, which is a standard serving size.

Extra lean cuts have less than 5 grams of total fat and only 2 grams or less of saturated fat with 95 milligrams of cholesterol or less. Typically cuts that are graded as select have less marbling, therefore less internal fat. In addition cuts that are labeled as “round” or “loin” are the leanest. This includes bottom and top round, top sirloin, eye of round and round tip. Ground beef that it 90 percent lean and 10 percent fat is a good option for keeping saturated fats low.

Veal, pork and lamb can be evaluated with visual fat content as marbling is much less pronounced. Trim all visible fat and cook using methods that do not introduce more fats such as grilling, broiling or baking. Avoid breading or adding creams or fat rich sauces to the meat to avoid piling on calories and fats.

Some diets eliminate red meat completely as a protein source. Research has shown that lean red meat in the diet in moderate amounts, no more than 6 ounces per day, has the same overall result on serum lipid levels as lean white meat in the form of poultry or fish. However, combining both lean cuts of red and white meats is highly recommended.

White Meats: Fish, Seafood and Poultry

 Poultry and fish are recommended as the major protein source in many types of diets because it is naturally low in saturated fats, has high protein content per serving and is high in other essential nutrients. As with beef and red meats, cooking methods are essential to avoid adding saturated fats and calories to the lean cuts of meat. Most diets recommend white meats, including fish and poultry, be served at least one meal a day but only at the recommended portion size of approximately 3 ounces.

Research into the effectiveness of adding fish or seafood , including fish oil supplements, to the diet of overweight young adults has had positive results. In a recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity young adults that were identified as obese were provided increased levels of fish and fish oil in their diet on a randomized basis. The results showed that those adding the fish and fish oils lost more weight over a four week study on the same food intake than those not consuming fish. 1

 Fish, particularly fatty fish, are a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids, which have been linked to a variety of health benefits. These include positive effects on the chance of developing cardiovascular disease in healthy individuals or preventing increased risks of cardiovascular disease in those already diagnosed.2   The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that seafood or fish be the protein source at least two meals a week.3 Other diets tend to follow the same recommendation with at least 2 to 3 meals a week of fish, seafood or lean poultry.

Health Concerns With Red Meats, Poultry, Seafood And Fish

 Fish and seafood have received a lot of attention because of high levels of mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls and other contaminants that may be found within the meat or the fish. These contaminants do not break down with cooking and therefore still pose a health risk if consumed in excess. Physicians typically recommend that women that are pregnant or breastfeeding avoid high seafood and fish consumption for this reason.  Raw fish is also not recommended for this group or for other high risk populations.4

 Safety precautions can help avoid any potential issues with fish or seafood. Ideally purchase your seafood and fish from reputable retailers that use the proper procedures for purchasing, handling and storing seafood. In addition do not consume freshwater or saltwater fish or seafood from areas that are known to contain contaminants.

Red meats including beef, veal, lamb and pork should be purchased in a similar fashion. Buying organic meats will eliminate the risk of any types of antibiotics, growth hormones, chemicals or insecticides in the meat.


 1 Thorsdottir, I., Tomasson, H., et al. (2007). Randomized trial of weight-loss-diets for young adults varying in fish and fish oil content. International Journal of Obesity, 1560-1566.

 2 Kris-Etherton, P. M., Harris, W. S., et al. (2003). Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Cardiovascular Disease. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology , 20-30.

3 Dietary Guidelines For Americans. (2011, January 31). Retrieved from USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion: www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-PolicyDocument.htm

4 FishWatch – US Seafood Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishwatch/seafood_and_health.htm


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