Tri-tip is a tasty and lean cut of beef that can be a delicious addition to a healthy diet. Knowing how many calories are in 8 oz of tri-tip can help you make informed choices about portion sizes and calorie intake. In this article, we will look at the calorie and nutrient breakdown of 8 oz of tri-tip to get a full understanding of its nutritional profile.
What is Tri-Tip?
Tri-tip is a small triangular cut of beef that comes from the bottom sirloin subprimal cut. It is sometimes also called triangle roast or Santa Maria steak. Tri-tip has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its flavor and leanness. It has a loose grain and is fairly tender, making it perfect for grilling, roasting, broiling or smoking.
Tri-tip typically weighs between 1.5 to 2.5 lbs. It has rich beefy flavor and is often rubbed with spices and marinated before cooking. When cooked correctly, it can be juicy, tender and flavorful.
Compared to other cuts of beef, tri-tip is lower in fat, calories and cholesterol. The low fat content means it is unlikely to curl up or shrink excessively during cooking. Tri-tip is considered a healthier red meat option, especially when trimmed of visible fat before cooking.
Nutrition Facts for 8 Ounces of Raw Tri-Tip
According to the USDA, 8 ounces (227g) of raw, untrimmed tri-tip contains:1
As you can see, there are 304 calories in 8 ounces of raw tri-tip. About half of those calories come from fat, with 15g total fat and 5.7g saturated fat. There is no carbohydrate or sugar, and a sizable 39g of protein.
Percent Daily Values*
*Based on a 2000 calorie diet
This shows us that 8 oz of raw tri-tip provides high amounts of protein at 78% DV. It is also moderately high in saturated fat at 29% DV. Total fat, cholesterol and sodium are lower as percentages of the daily value.
Does Cooking Change the Calorie Content?
The nutrition information above is for raw tri-tip. But most people cook tri-tip before eating it by grilling, broiling, smoking or roasting. Does cooking change the calorie and nutrient content at all?
The cooking method generally does not significantly affect the calories, macronutrients or vitamins and minerals. The main nutrients affected by cooking are:
- Water content – Meat loses moisture during cooking, concentrating the nutrients slightly.
- Fat content – Some fat may drip off during cooking, lowering the total fat slightly.
- Sodium content – If salt or sodium-containing rubs/marinades are added, sodium will increase.
However, these changes are usually small. The USDA states that a 3 oz serving of cooked tri-tip contains:2
Comparing this to the raw amounts, cooking slightly lowered the fat and cholesterol a small amount due to moisture loss. But the calorie count remains very similar.
So for the purposes of counting calories, you can use the nutrition information for raw tri-tip even if you will be cooking it. The calorie content remains roughly the same.
Tri-tip Portion Sizes
Tri-tip roast weights vary from 1.5 to 2.5 lbs. This is why nutrition info is often listed in 3 or 4 oz serving sizes rather than for the entire roast.
A whole tri-tip roast contains around 1120-1870 calories, depending on the exact weight. When serving tri-tip, here are some typical portion sizes:
- 4 oz – Good for a lunch or light main dish
- 6 oz – Moderate portion for dinner
- 8 oz – Large portion
- 10-12 oz – Extra hungry eaters
The lean nature of tri-tip makes it reasonable to eat bigger portion sizes. An 8 oz serving offers a satisfying portion with 304 calories and 39g protein to keep you full.
Comparing Tri-Tip to Other Cuts of Beef
How does tri-tip compare calorie and nutrition-wise to other popular cuts of beef?
Here is the calorie count in 8 oz raw portions of other beef cuts:3
|Calories (8 oz raw)
|Top Round Roast
|Eye of Round
|Ground Beef (90% lean)
Tri-tip is on the lower end for calories compared to other beef cuts, since it is lower in fat. Fattier cuts like ribeye and T-bone contain 100+ more calories per 8 oz serving. Ground beef is moderately lean with 287 calories.
So tri-tip is one of the leanest cuts of beef you can choose while still retaining great flavor and tenderness.
Nutrients in Tri-Tip
In addition to its calorie and macronutrient content, tri-tip contains a variety of vitamins and minerals:
- B Vitamins – Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12
- Iron – 15% DV in 8 oz serving
- Zinc – 64% DV
- Selenium – 44% DV
These nutrients are beneficial for energy, blood and bone health, immune function, and antioxidant protection in the body. The high zinc and selenium levels make tri-tip an especially nutritious beef choice.
Low Carb Qualities of Tri-Tip
Tri-tip is a fantastic choice for low carb and keto diets. An 8 oz serving contains 0g carbs. The macros in tri-tip are:
- 304 calories
- 39g protein
- 15g fat
- 0g net carbs
This aligns perfectly with low carb goals of moderating protein intake while keeping carbs low and fat adequate. Tri-tip provides a satisfying portion of beef with no need to tally up carb counts.
Grass-fed vs Grain-fed Tri-tip
You may see both grass-fed and grain-fed options when buying tri-tip. Grass-fed beef comes from cows that eat grass and forage rather than grain. Here is how the nutrition profiles compare:
Grass-fed contains around 100 fewer calories per serving compared to grain-fed. It is lower in both total and saturated fat. Protein content is similar. Grass-fed beef is a leaner choice while providing a more natural diet for cows.
Marinade Ideas for Tri-Tip
Marinating tri-tip before cooking helps tenderize the meat and infuse it with lots of flavor. Here are some tasty marinade ideas:
- Southwestern – Cumin, chili powder, garlic, lime, olive oil, cilantro
- Teriyaki – Soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, garlic
- Rosemary Garlic – Rosemary, garlic, mustard, lemon juice
- Mediterranean – Oregano, garlic, lemon, olive oil, parsley, basil
Let the meat marinate for at least 2-4 hours in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to penetrate. The acidic ingredients help tenderize the beef while the herbs, spices and oil infuse flavor.
Cooking Tri-Tip Roast
Tri-tip can be cooked whole as a roast or sliced into individual steaks/cutlets. Here are some of the most popular cooking methods:
Grilling over direct high heat is a top choice for its caramelized, smoky flavor. Cook to medium rare doneness, about 8-10 minutes per pound. Use mesquite, hickory or oak wood chips for extra smoky flavor.
For broiling, place tri-tip on a rack coated in oil and broil on high heat 5-7 minutes per side. Keep a close eye to avoid burning the exterior before the center cooks through.
Roast in the oven at 425°F for 25-30 minutes per pound for medium doneness. Use a meat thermometer to check for 135°F internally. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Smoking tri-tip allows lots of woody, smoky flavor to permeate the meat. Use a rub for additional spice flavors. Smoke for 2-3 hours at 225°F until it reaches the desired doneness.
Is Tri-Tip Healthy?
Tri-tip is one of the leanest, most nutrient-dense cuts of beef. Here are some of the health benefits it provides:
- High in lean protein to build and repair muscles
- Contains zinc, selenium, iron and B-vitamins
- Low in calories compared to other beef cuts
- Low carb – contains zero carbs per serving
- Rich in antioxidants like selenium and zinc
Of course, tri-tip should still be eaten in moderation as part of a healthy diet. The saturated fat content is moderate, so portions should be monitored.
Buying and Storing Tri-Tip
When purchasing tri-tip, look for meat that is brightly colored and evenly marbled with white fat flecks. Avoid meat that looks dry or brown.
Opt for tri-tip cuts that are 1.5-2.5 lbs to get a good thickness for roasting and grilling. Price varies, but expect to pay $7-12 per pound.
Store the meat tightly wrapped in the coldest part of the refrigerator for 3-5 days maximum. You can also freeze it for 3-6 months tightly wrapped.
Defrost frozen cuts slowly in the fridge before cooking.
An 8 oz raw portion of tri-tip contains about 304 calories. This comes from 39g protein, 15g fat, and 0g carbs. The calorie content remains similar after cooking. Tri-tip is one of the leanest cuts of beef, making it a smart choice for those monitoring calories, fat and carbs.