When trying to lose weight, choosing the right types of meat can make a big difference. Meat is a great source of protein, which helps keep you feeling full and preserves muscle mass when in a calorie deficit. However, not all meats are created equal when it comes to nutrition and calorie content.
Some types of meat are leaner and have less saturated fat than others. Choosing cuts of meat with less fat and calories can help support your weight loss goals. Other preparation methods, like grilling instead of frying, can also reduce the calorie content of meat.
Here is a quick overview of some of the best meats for weight loss:
- Chicken breast
- Turkey breast
- Lean cuts of beef like sirloin
- Pork tenderloin
- Fish like tuna, salmon, and tilapia
This article will provide a more in-depth look at the types of meat that are ideal for losing weight and why they are better options.
Why Meat Can Be Good for Weight Loss
Eating the right amounts and types of meat can definitely help with weight loss. Here are some of the reasons why:
- High in protein – Protein is very satiating and helps control hunger and appetite. It also requires more energy for the body to digest compared to fats and carbs.
- Preserves lean muscle mass – When in a calorie deficit, protein from meat helps minimize muscle loss that can occur along with fat loss.
- Nutrient rich – Meat contains a wide range of important nutrients like iron, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B12 and more.
- Versatile – Meat is very versatile and can be incorporated into different types of healthy meals and recipes for weight loss.
Protein is one of the key nutrients that helps with fat loss. Getting enough protein should be a focus when trying to lose weight, and meat is an excellent source.
Meat With the Lowest Fat and Calories
When selecting meat for weight loss, prioritizing those with the lowest amount of fat and calories is important. Some of the top options include:
Chicken breast is a go-to for fat loss. A 3-ounce serving of roasted, skinless chicken breast has:
- 165 calories
- 2 grams of fat
- 31 grams of protein
Chicken breast is very high in protein, but extremely low in fat and calories. It’s very satiating and versatile as well. Chicken breast can be seasoned in various ways and included in salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes, stir-fries, and more.
Turkey breast is another excellent source of lean protein:
- 125 calories in 3 ounces
- 0.4 grams of fat
- 25 grams of protein
Turkey breast has a slightly lower calorie and fat content than chicken breast. It can easily be switched for chicken in many recipes. Turkey cutlets, turkey burgers, and sliced turkey breast are all great options.
When eating beef, your best bet for weight loss is to choose leaner cuts like sirloin. An 8-ounce sirloin steak has:
- 290 calories
- 5 grams of fat
- 50 grams of protein
Since sirloin steak is very lean, it’s not necessary to trim much visible fat before cooking it. You can grill, broil, pan sear, or roast sirloin steak.
Pork tenderloin is one of the leanest cuts of pork:
- 180 calories in 3 ounces
- 6 grams of fat
- 22 grams of protein
The small size of pork tenderloins make them perfect single servings. Marinate and roast whole tenderloins for an easy entree. Pork tenderloin can also be turned into roasts, medallions, or stuffed dishes.
Bison or buffalo meat has become more commonplace in grocery stores. Since bison are leaner than cattle, their meat contains less fat and calories:
- 152 calories in 3 ounces
- 2.4 grams of fat
- 25 grams of protein
Any recipes calling for ground beef can be made with ground bison instead. Bison also performs well when grilled as steaks or burgers. Try using lean ground bison to make meatballs, tacos, Bolognese sauce, and chili.
Fish High in Protein and Low in Fat
In addition to being excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, certain types of fish are also great when you’re cutting calories for weight loss. Fish that are high in protein and low in fat include:
Canned tuna is inexpensive, shelf-stable, and very versatile. A 3-ounce serving of tuna packed in water has:
- 93 calories
- 0.8 grams of fat
- 21 grams of protein
Use tuna in sandwiches, salads, snacks, tuna melts, casseroles, and stuffed peppers. Opt for no salt added or low sodium versions when possible.
Salmon is one of the fattier fish, but those fats are primarily heart-healthy omega-3s. Half a fillet of grilled salmon (178g) contains:
- 216 calories
- 12 grams of fat
- 23 grams of protein
Salmon can be grilled, baked, or pan seared. Salmon burgers, salmon cakes, and salmon salad also make for tasty, protein-packed meals.
Tilapia is a popular option thanks to its mild flavor and texture. 3 ounces of baked tilapia have:
- 94 calories
- 2 grams of fat
- 17 grams of protein
Tilapia absorbs flavors very well, so it can be seasoned in many different ways. Try blackening tilapia or using it in fish tacos and seafood pasta dishes.
Benefits of Choosing Lean Meats
Eating lean meats that are lower in fat and calories provides many benefits if you’re trying to lose weight:
- Helps create a calorie deficit – You can eat larger portions of lean meats for fewer calories.
- Aids fat loss – Less fat intake can accelerate fat loss.
- Promotes feelings of fullness – High protein keeps you satisfied between meals.
- Prevents muscle wasting – Consuming protein prevents loss of lean muscle mass.
- Can lower blood pressure and risk of heart disease – Lean meats have less saturated fat.
Choosing lean meats in proper portion sizes is an effective strategy for weight management. Protein takes more energy for the body to digest, so it’s very effective at boosting metabolism and reducing appetite.
It’s best to avoid frying when cooking meat, and limit high-fat sauces and glazes. Grilling, roasting, baking, broiling, and poaching are healthiest preparation methods.
Portion Sizes of Meat for Weight Loss
To prevent overindulging on meat, pay attention to proper portion sizes. Here are some healthy serving sizes for weight loss:
- Chicken or turkey breast – 3-4 ounces
- Sirloin or lean beef – 4-6 ounces
- Pork tenderloin – 3 ounces
- Fish fillet – 4-6 ounces
- Ground bison or beef – 3-4 ounces
An appropriate portion of meat for one meal is about the size of your palm or a deck of cards. Consuming giant steaks or piles of ground meat is not necessary.
Measure portions and use a food scale for accuracy when first getting accustomed to proper serving sizes. This will help prevent overeating.
Meat Products to Limit
On the flip side, there are certain meats and meat products that should be limited when trying to lose weight due to their high fat and calorie content:
- Fatty cuts of red meat like ribeye or t-bone steaks
- Ground beef or sausage (choose lean ground turkey or bison instead)
- Breaded and fried meats like chicken nuggets, fried chicken, etc.
- Deli meats like bologna, salami, pepperoni, etc.
- Bacon and high-fat sausages
- Hot dogs, bratwursts, etc.
- Heavily processed meat products in general
These items are more calorie dense and contain higher amounts of saturated fat, which can hinder fat loss. It’s best to avoid them when possible when dieting.
Is it Possible to Lose Weight on a Vegan or Vegetarian Diet?
Many people decide to cut out meat and adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet for health or ethical reasons. But is it possible to still lose weight without meat?
The answer is absolutely yes. With the right food choices, vegans and vegetarians can successfully lose weight while following their dietary preferences.
Here are some tips for losing weight on a vegetarian/vegan diet:
- Eat plenty of vegetables – They are low in calories and high in fiber.
- Choose whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, oats, etc. for more fiber.
- Eat a wide variety of fruits.
- Enjoy nuts and seeds in moderation – They’re high in protein and healthy fats.
- Include high-protein options like beans, legumes, tofu, tempeh.
- Limit heavily processed vegetarian products like frozen dinners.
As long as calories are controlled and portion sizes are kept reasonable, vegetarians and vegans can lose just as much weight as meat eaters.
Adding more plant-based proteins like beans, nuts, seeds, and soy products helps enhance satiety while reducing appetite between meals.
Sample Meal Plan for Weight Loss
Here is a sample high protein, moderate-carb meal plan incorporating the lean meats and other foods discussed in this article:
Oatmeal made with nonfat milk and topped with banana slices, walnuts, and cinnamon
Spinach salad with grilled chicken breast, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and balsamic vinaigrette
Greek yogurt with blueberries and slivered almonds
Broiled salmon with brown rice and steamed broccoli
Protein smoothie made with nonfat milk, frozen berries, and whey powder
This plan provides lean meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, nuts, and seeds. It limits added sugars, refined grains, saturated fats, and heavily processed foods.
You can modify or substitute items as needed depending on your own food preferences. The key is focusing on lean proteins, high-fiber carbs, healthy fats, and plenty of produce.
Eating the right types of meat can definitely help when trying to lose weight. Chicken breast, turkey breast, lean red meat, pork tenderloin, fish, and bison are all great options. These meats are lower in fat and calories while providing filling protein that supports weight loss.
Choosing lean cuts of meat instead of fatty, heavily processed options provides more nutrients and aids fat loss efforts. Proper portion control is also key to prevent overconsumption of calories. Fish, beans, nuts, seeds, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains all complement lean meats to make nutritious, satisfying meals.
With the right food choices and preparation methods, meat can be an integral part of a balanced diet geared towards weight management. Focus on high-protein, low-calorie meats along with plenty of produce, fiber-rich carbs, and healthy fats. This approach provides your body with the nourishment it needs while facilitating sustainable fat loss over time.