The Best Protein Types

You already know that eating protein is key when it comes to weight loss and muscle building. However, many proteins are high in saturated fats that cause cardiovascular disease – choosing lean proteins helps ensure you get sufficient nutrition without the downside.

But, what are the best protein types to eat?

Lean Protein Definition

The USDA defines lean meat as having less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and fewer than 95 milligrams of cholesterol in a 3.5-ounce portion. The food exchange system defines lean protein as a 1-ounce serving that has 2 to 3 grams of fat. That’s equal to the total fat in the USDA’s recommendation but with a smaller serving. The goal is to balance your daily consumption to meet American Heart Association recommendations for fat intake. Limit total fat to 25 to 35 percent of daily calories, saturated fat to no more than 7 percent of daily calories and cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams daily.


Best Lean Protein Sources

The white meat from chicken and turkey and dark meat without the skin are good choices for lean protein. Fish provides lean protein together with omega-3 fatty acids that lower cholesterol and inhibit inflammation. Cuts of beef that meet the standards for lean meat include sirloin, flank steak, rump roast, top loin, top round and extra lean ground beef. Pork center loin and tenderloin are lean choices. Low-fat dairy products also qualify as sources of lean protein. Quinoa is a low-fat grain that’s a complete protein. Beans and legumes are naturally low-fat sources of protein. Depending on the type of bean, 1 cup may have 12 to 20 grams of protein and .5 to 1.5 grams of fat. The lean meats mentioned are the best protein types to help you achieve your goals.


Sources:USDA: A Guide to Federal Food Labeling Requirements for Meat and Poultry ProductsNational Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Food Exchange ListsAmerican Heart Association: Know Your FatsUniversity of Michigan Integrative Medicine: Lean MeatsDiabetes Australia: Glycemic IndexHarvard Health Publications: Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load for 100+ Foods