To Beef or Not to Beef?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Red meat gets a bad rap sometimes. Criticized for its high levels of fat and cholesterol, it's been avoided in the diet world for years. However, not all red meat is created equal; when choosing the right cuts in moderation, beef can be a great source of iron, protein and zinc. Between 3 ounces of cooked flank steak and 3 ounces of cooked 80/20% ground beef, which is the leaner choice?

The Winner: Flank Steak!

Three ounces of flank steak weighs in at 158 calories, 6.3 grams of fat, 2.6 grams of saturated fat and 66 mg of cholesterol. The same amount of 80/20% ground beef contains 230 calories, 15 grams of fat, 5.7 grams of saturated fat and 77 mg of cholesterol. Note that you can trim the calories and fat from your ground beef if you choose a leaner variety—95/5% ground beef has just 145 calories and 5.6 grams of fat per 3 ounces! (For more information about fat percentages of ground beef, check out this handy calculator from the USDA.)

If you're going to eat steak, it's best to prepare it yourself at home. The cuts found on restaurant menus are often triple (or quadruple) the appropriate serving size. (A 12-ounce ribeye steak from Applebee's is 670 calories—and that's without side dishes!) The cut of steak and steak seasoning you choose can also make a huge difference in the nutritional profile. Check out the chart below to see how your favorites stack up! (All values are for 3 ounces of cooked meat.)
Beef Cut Calories Total Fat (g) Sat Fat (g) Cholesterol (mg)
Eye round roast 138 3.5 1.2 63
Ground beef (95/5%) 145 5.6 2.5 65
Top sirloin steak 156 4.9 1.9 70
Bottom round roast 157 6.5 2.7 66
Flank steak 158 6.3 2.6 66
T-Bone steak 161 7.4 2.6 47
Tenderloin steak 164 6.7 2.5 69
Chuck shoulder pot roast 167 6.6 2.4 83
Round steak, top 169 4.3 1.5 76
Top round roast 169 4.3 1.4 76
Brisket flat half 174 5.9 2.3 85
Round steak, bottom 182 6.5 2.3 79
Porterhouse steak 184 9.5 3.3 53
Ground beef (90/10%) 184 10 3.9 72
Beef brisket 185 8.6 3.1 79
Beef ribs 202 11 4.5 69
Ground beef (80/20%) 230 15 5.7 77
Additionally, try to buy organic beef whenever possible to cut back on preservatives, hormones, and other additives. If available to you, organic varieties that are also grass-fed are best; some research suggests that grass-fed beef is higher in omega-3 fatty acids than corn-fed or soy-fed beef.

Click here to learn more about the best and worst cuts of meat!

Do you eat red meat? What's your favorite way to prepare it?

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Thanks for the good article. I don't eat beef very often, but will definitely share with my family. Report
CHERYLHURT 5/31/2020
Thanks Report
CATNURSE1 5/29/2020
We eat buffalo and ground round for tacos and chili. Only other beef is London broil. I use water instead of oil to brown meat. Now, if I had to quit red meat altogether, I could live off garbanzo beans and lentils.

FYI, grass fed more than likely will have other feeds as well. Will have to ask my college roommate who owns a beef cattle ranch, but there is a percentage that can be non-grass and still be considered grass-fed. Report
EVIE4NOW 4/14/2020
thank you have saved the chart Report
KHALIA2 2/15/2020
Don't eat beef. It sits in your stomach too long. It doesn't digest quickly enough! Report
ELRIDDICK 2/14/2020
Thanks for sharing Report
I'm working to eliminate red beef and dairy from my diet. Report
Can you please add info for two other popular steaks? Rib-eye and NY Strip please :) Report
KHALIA2 8/24/2019
Thanks for this great info! Report
BLHEALTH 8/22/2019
Very good advise for me. Tks Report
Grilled flank steak is a family favorite. Report
Steak is one of my treat meals. I tend to make it @ home vs. eating it out. Easy to prepare. I don't eat much meat, but when I do, I want something tasty! Report
Ate steak last night. it was delicious. Don't eat it too often. Report
great information for when I go out to dinner and order steak Report
Good to know! Report
Some great information, thank-you Report
FAT STEAK, bring it on. As a ketogenic dieter (and intermittent faster) trimming all that fat off is a big no-no.

Sadly I do love my potatoes which I have stopped eating. But a fat bomb salad is even better!

Low carb, ketogenic, IF all the way.

I've lost 45 lbs in 6 months, my A1C is 6.1 and dropping. Fasting blood glucose well below 100, even down in the 80s occasionally (during a fast). NO diabetes meds. Works for me. Report
Thanks for the great information! :) Report
thanks Report
Thanks for the information. I like beef. Report
Thanks for the information Report
Thanks for the info Report
Good info Report
thanks for the info Report
I do like to eat beef especially since I am anemic. DH and I have reduced our consumption. But 3 ounces is a pretty small portion, and I am not a huge eater. Report
Thanks for sharing this...SOUNDS WONDERFUL! Report
Fast foods cured me of my love for beef. Now I don't eat it. Report
I eat beef at least once a week, but not the tasteless hormone filled, force fed store offerings. The difference in grass fed beef I raise is unbelievable to most people that have never had anything but the store bought stuff, same with the lamb, pork, chicken and rabbit that is raised here on the farm. I can see why some people don't like the taste of store bought meat, the chicken in the store always tastes slightly spoiled to me compared to the fresh home grown, and the beef has an off taste, pork is just plain tasteless with all the saline they inject into it for store sales. Report
Count me as another person who's disappointed that this was actually about beef choices rather than beef vs. lamb vs. venison, etc. Report
Growing up I don't think I cared for it BUT as an adult I liked eating pronghorn antelope and moose meat my Dad had harvested. I really remember one roast my Mom had prepared and brought over for a birthday
(not MINE) I can recall how clean it tasted and the only odd thing was that it was redder than a beef roast so I had to ask my mom later one why it was like that. Report
I don't eat beef anymore, just wanted to check out this chart. I am SO HAPPY that it doesn't have Tri-tip on it! I moved to CA from the Chicago area, and I know Tri-tip isn't a traditional cut of beef, but it seems to be the going thing here. NO one here has heard of cuts like flank or brisket or round. When I did buy beef, shopping was interesting. Report
I was looking for a chart like this! Thanks! Report
I love meat. I eat a lot if it. Usually my husband gets a deer and I have that ground up. Sadly this year he did not get a deer. I do choose the lower fat cuts. It is the best way to get quality protein with very low calories. I also like buffalo meat. Report
Me and hubby go out to eat steak sharing 1 Meal. If you get the 10 oz steak cut it in half it will be about 4 oz each cause after its cooked it is lighter. Its also cheaper. You mostly get 2 sides with the 1 meal. It is perfect. Report
I don't digest meat very well - never have.

Different strokes, I guess. Report
Smaller portions extra fruits and bright colored veggies Report
Haven't eaten red meat for 15 years.....don't plan on starting! Report
We eat beef once a week, usually top round, occasionally filet mignon. Both lean cuts, in reasonable amounts, 2-3 ounces per person. We eat each protein once a week, lamb, pork, beef, chicken, fish, with one night out, and one night vegetarian or the meat is a seasoning, like soup, or pasta. Moderation in all things, that's the key. Report
I eat red meat with some fat for flavor, although I don't eat it every day. It helps with my anemia.

I am a proud carnivore. Life is good! Report
I eat meat but my BF is a vegetarian. We go meatless when he's home and when he's not i have my meat. I don't eat a lot of beef, but sometimes you just get sick of chicken and turkey. When I do make beef, I get lean cuts and mix it in. Tonight for example, I'm having sauerbraten (German beef) it makes 10 servings. I will freeze half, eat one serving tonight, pack one for lunch tomorrow, and the other three servings will get eaten over the course of the next few days, then I won't have beef for another week or two. It isn't something I have at every meal, but variation and moderation are important.
Flank steak is the best with Terriyaki! Report
Some really great info, I only buy grass fed beef from a local farmer, this year it was an entire half of a cow at once. I have it custom processed at a butcher who processes to my exact specifications, and never buy beef from a store. The calorie info is nice, we eat a lot of beef because my husband is allergic to chicken, and I don't care a whole lot for pork, but I am looking for a local source that I can buy an entire pig from, just for more variety in our food. I try for at least one vegetarian meal a week, which is tricky because he also won't eat tofu or most soy products. Report
Great info and interesting comments. As a beef rancher myself, I am always amazed at the misconceptions that are perpetrated about eating beef. I am not advocating eating large amounts of beef but everything in moderation. There are many health benefits to eating some red meat. Report
Good info! Report
I'm a vegan - life is good! Report
I eat little red meat, because I don't really like the taste. I'll occasionally order it in a restaurant, but usually a small portion, perhaps on a salad. After a few bites, I've had enough. Report
It bothers me that the statement use organic beef to cut back on preservatives, hormones and other additives. You can't sell beef with hormones in this country or you can be charged with selling adulterated food. The grocery stores add water or water with salt to many of their products (makes it weigh more) which is a good reason to buy directly from a farmer if possible by custom slaughter. Helps the farmer and gives you the freshest and best beef possible.
SF Report
Thanks for the chart! Where did you find it? I can't seem to save it to my phone. Report
I don't eat red meat, but the rest of my family does. Thanks for the chart. Report
I thank you for the chart. My husband and I are both dieting to loss weight and for health reasons and he loves beef, so this will help me make good choices. Report