Is lamb shoulder high calories?

Lamb shoulder, also known as lamb shoulder roast or lamb shoulder chops, is a popular cut of lamb that comes from the front leg of the animal. It’s a flavorful cut that can be prepared in a variety of ways, from slow roasted to grilled.

But one thing some people wonder about lamb shoulder is whether it’s high in calories compared to other meats. In this article, we’ll take a detailed look at the calorie and nutrient content of lamb shoulder to find out how it compares.

Calorie and macronutrient content of lamb shoulder

Let’s start by looking at the basic calorie and macronutrient content in 6 ounces (170 grams) of boneless, cooked lamb shoulder according to the USDA FoodData Central database:

Calories Protein Fat Carbs
418 43.4g 26.8g 0g

So in 6 ounces of cooked lamb shoulder, there are:

– 418 calories
– 43.4 grams of protein
– 26.8 grams of fat
– 0 grams of carbohydrate

Looking at these numbers, lamb shoulder is a high protein, high fat meat with no carbs. The fat content is quite high compared to some other popular cuts of meat.

For example, here’s how the calories and macronutrients in lamb shoulder compare to 6 ounces of cooked 80% lean ground beef:

Lamb shoulder 80% lean ground beef
Calories 418 402
Protein 43.4g 35.8g
Fat 26.8g 24.6g
Carbs 0g 0g

As you can see, lamb shoulder is slightly higher in calories and fat compared to 80% lean ground beef. However, the protein content is also higher in the lamb shoulder.

So while lamb shoulder is high in calories and fat for a meat, it’s not extremely higher than other common cuts of red meat.

Now let’s see how it compares to chicken breast, which is much lower in fat:

Lamb shoulder Chicken breast
Calories 418 231
Protein 43.4g 43.5g
Fat 26.8g 5g
Carbs 0g 0g

Compared to chicken breast, lamb shoulder contains nearly twice as many calories and over 5 times as much fat!

So lamb shoulder is very high in calories and fat compared to leaner meats like chicken breast. However, it does contain a similar amount of protein.

To sum up, lamb shoulder is moderately high in calories for a meat, but does not stand out as being extremely high calorie compared to other red meats. It is much higher in calories and fat compared to chicken and other lean meats, however.

Why lamb shoulder is higher in calories and fat

There are a few reasons why lamb shoulder is higher in calories and fat than many other cuts of meat:

It comes from a fatty area of the animal

The shoulder area of lambs and sheep tends to contain more fat, which is why cuts from this region are higher in fat and calories. Cuts that come from the loin, round or leg of the animal are much leaner.

Connective tissue adds calories

Lamb shoulder contains a significant amount of connective tissue. When cooked, this connective tissue breaks down into gelatin which is high in calories. So the moderate amount of connective tissue in lamb shoulder bumps up the calorie content.

Fatty lamb breeds

Some breeds of lamb are genetically prone to producing more fat and marbling. Breeds like the Suffolk or Hampshire lamb tend to be higher in fat than other breeds. So if your lamb shoulder comes from one of these high-fat breeds, it may have more calories than average.

Feeding and finishing practices

How lambs are raised, fed, and finished can impact fatness. Those who are grass-fed and pasture-raised tend to be leaner. Lambs fed high calorie grains like corn may end up fattier.

So in summary, lamb shoulder comes from a naturally fatty part of the animal, contains connective tissue, and may come from genetically fatty breeds – all of which contribute to its higher calorie and fat content.

Micronutrients in lamb shoulder

Beyond just calories, protein and fat, lamb shoulder also contains an array of micronutrients. Let’s look at some of the main ones contained in a 6 ounce portion, and how they compare to daily values:

Micronutrient Amount in 6oz lamb shoulder % Daily Value
Zinc 6.1mg 55%
Selenium 44.5mcg 81%
Vitamin B12 2.7mcg 113%
Iron 2.5mg 14%
Niacin 4.9mg 31%
Vitamin B6 0.3mg 18%

As you can see, lamb shoulder provides high amounts of zinc, selenium, vitamin B12, niacin and vitamin B6.

It’s moderate in iron, providing 14% DV.

Many of these vitamins and minerals support immune function, DNA synthesis, thyroid hormone function, and energy metabolism.

So while lamb shoulder is high in calories and fat, it also delivers a significant amount of beneficial micronutrients.

Ways to reduce the calories in lamb shoulder

If you want to enjoy lamb shoulder while limiting the calories, here are some tips:

Trim visible fat

Trimming excess visible fat before cooking can reduce some of the calories. Remove fat caps and fatty areas.

Use leaner cuts

Opt for leaner shoulder cuts like arm chops or blades rather than fattier cuts like shoulder chops.

Portion control

Stick to reasonable portions of around 4-6 ounces cooked. This limits calorie intake while still allowing you to enjoy the flavor.

Cook method

Choosing healthier cooking methods like roasting, grilling or broiling allows excess fat to drip away rather than being reabsorbed.

Pair with non-starchy veggies

Serve lamb shoulder with a heaping portion of non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus or greens to fill up on low calorie foods.

Use lower-fat marinades and glazes

Skip high fat sauces and instead marinate the lamb in ingredients like vinegar, mustard, herbs and spices to add flavor without adding calories.

Watch total daily fat intake

If having higher fat lamb shoulder, balance it out by eating lower fat foods for the rest of the day. Don’t exceed your recommended total daily fat intake.

So in summary, a few simple strategies like trimming fat, controlling portions, choosing cooking methods wisely, and pairing it with non-starchy vegetables can help enjoy lamb shoulder while limiting calorie intake if this is your goal.

Health benefits of lamb shoulder

Lamb shoulder, as a fresh whole food, does have some notable health benefits despite being higher in calories and fat. Here are a few of the evidence-based health benefits associated with consuming lamb:

High quality protein for muscle maintenance

Lamb is an excellent source of high-quality protein, meaning it provides all the essential amino acids required for muscle synthesis and maintenance. Consuming high-quality protein sources like lamb supports athletic performance and helps maintain strength and function as we age.

Iron for blood health

Lamb is higher in iron than many other meats. Iron is essential for blood cell formation and preventing anemia. Just a 6 ounce serving of lamb shoulder provides 14% of the recommended daily iron intake.

Selenium and zinc for immunity

As shown earlier, lamb shoulder is high in the minerals zinc and selenium which play key roles in immune cell function and antioxidant activity to fight oxidative stress.

B-vitamins for energy

The array of B-vitamins in lamb shoulder help the body metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and fats to produce cellular energy. Lamb provides high amounts of metabolism-supporting B12, B6, and niacin.

Conjugated linoleic acid

Grass-fed lamb contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) from the lambs’ ingestion of greens. CLA may have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-obesity activity according to some studies.

So in moderation as part of a healthy diet, lamb shoulder offers nutritional benefits from its protein, vitamins, minerals, and other compounds.

How lamb shoulder fits into a healthy diet

Given the mix of pros and cons to lamb shoulder nutrition, how can you fit it into a healthy diet? Here are some tips:

Keep portions moderate in size

To limit saturated fat and calorie intake, keep lamb shoulder portions in the range of 4-6 ounces cooked. This provides a good balance of nutrition without overdoing calories or fat.

Eat for balance

Balance out higher fat lamb shoulder meals by also eating leaner proteins, lots of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Don’t just eat high fat foods at every meal.

Pair with plant foods

Serve lamb with fiber-rich plant foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. This provides filling fiber and offsets some of the saturated fat from the lamb.

Watch frequency

While the occasional lamb shoulder meal can fit into healthy eating, don’t eat it every single day to limit saturated fat and cholesterol intake. Once or twice a week is reasonable.

Select grass-fed

Choosing grass-fed and pasture-raised lamb provides a more favorable fatty acid profile than conventionally raised lamb. Grass-fed lamb contains more anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats.

Use lean cooking methods

Choosing to roast, braise, or grill lamb shoulder allows excess fat to drip away rather than frying which can increase the fat content.

So in summary, enjoying moderate portions of lamb shoulder a couple times a week, paired with plenty of vegetables and balanced out with lean proteins and plant foods, can fit into an overall healthy diet for most people.


To recap the key points:

– Lamb shoulder is moderately high in calories and fat compared to other meats, but not extremely high. It provides around 418 calories and 26.8g fat in a 6 ounce cooked serving.

– It’s higher in calories and fat compared to chicken, but fairly similar to other red meats like ground beef.

– Lamb shoulder nutrition provides high quality protein, iron, zinc, selenium, B vitamins and CLA (in grass-fed).

– Strategies like trimming fat, controlling portions, choosing cooking methods wisely, and pairing it with non-starchy veggies can help reduce calories.

– In moderation as part of varied healthy diet, lamb shoulder can fit into an overall healthy way of eating. Portions of 4-6 ounces a couple times a week is reasonable.

So is lamb shoulder high in calories? It’s moderately higher in calories and fat than other meats, but has a place in a balanced diet when enjoyed in moderation alongside plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins. Using smart preparation methods can also help manage calorie and fat intake.

Leave a Comment