If you’re a carnivore, meat can be an important part of your diet, since it delivers plenty of protein. The key to the best lean meats to eat for weight loss is choosing the options with the least fat, but cooking also plays a big part.
When you’re looking to drop a few pounds with sustainable weight loss, buying the right cut is just the first step. Cooking meat by steaming, grilling, poaching, baking, or boiling without extra fats is the key to benefiting the most from its nutrients without obstacles getting in the way of your weight loss goal. Even fats from cooking oils that are considered healthy can help you gain weight, so keep that in mind.
What Does Lean Meat Actually Mean?
The amount of fat in a 3 ounce serving determines whether meats are labeled lean or extra lean, according to the system used by the United States Department of Agriculture. Lean meats contain less than 10 g total fat in a serving, with less than 4.5 g saturated fat. If you’re buying extra lean, a serving should have no more than 5 g total fat, with a maximum of 2 g saturated fat. When you’re looking for the best lean meats to eat for weight loss, poultry should be your top choice, but red meat and fish are also good options, regardless of your diet.
Best Poultry to Eat for Weight Loss
Skinless and boneless poultry is the best option for a sustainable weight loss plan, with chicken and turkey leading the pack. When cooked without skin or bone, they deliver less fat and the best options in descending order are turkey breast, chicken breast, turkey legs, and chicken legs.
Removing any visible fat is important, even when you’re buying skinless and boneless chicken. Chicken breast is a great option for the best lean meats to eat for weight loss, with only 128 calories per 3 oz serving, along with 3.1 g fat and 0.9 g saturated fat. Chicken thigh or leg without skin or bone can vary between 180 and 200 calories, with 7.2 g fat, 1.8 g of which is saturated.
With only 88 calories in a 3 oz serving, turkey breast is definitely one of the best lean meats to eat for weight loss. Skinless and boneless, it only pack 0.6 g of total fat with half of it being saturated. If you’re more likely to eat turkey legs with bone, then the regular serving will deliver around 130 calories, with 3.3 g total fat, and 1.2 g saturated fat.
See also: 10 Weird Reasons for Weight Gain
Best Red Meat to Eat for Weight Loss
Beef, pork and lamb don’t have to be abandoned when you’re going on a diet, you simply need to find the right cut. Once you know how to choose the best lean meats to eat for weight loss, eating red meat on your weight loss plan can keep your irons levels steady, and that’s very important since iron deficiency can lead to weight gain. When you purchase red meat, look for 90-95% lean cuts. These usually have “loin” or “round” in the name, but you can also remove any visible fat before cooking.
Lean Red Meat Cuts
With 161 calories and 9 g fat in a 3 oz serving, the strip steak definitely at the top of what constitutes lean mean. For less calories and fat, you can try a tri-tip, which contains 138 calories and 6 g fat in a serving. The lean meat with the lowest fat is the the top round, with around 120 calories and just 4 g fat.
Extra Lean Red Meat Cuts
The best lean meats to eat for weight loss are those with around 3 g fat per serving, and red meat can meet that standard as well as chicken and turkey. A top sirloin or a bottom round have 108 calories per serving, with no more than 3 g fat. An eye of round cut has the same fat, with just a tiny difference in calories, 105 per 3 oz serving.
Best Fish to Eat for Weight Loss
Once you’ve got the hang of the best lean meats to eat for weight loss, you should also look at less fatty fish options. Their fats are mostly heart-healthy, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore them when it comes to calories. If you’re looking for fish with around 100 calories per serving, you can’t go wrong with sole, cod, flounder and sea bass. The best types of fish for weight loss include haddock and crab, with about 90 calories per 3 oz serving, and orange roughly with just 70 calories.