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Is there really a difference between meat and lean meat?

Whenever a food product has a healthy descriptor word such as “lean” in front of it, many people assume it is automatically the best option available. However, it may only be the best option for some people, depending on what their intention is with their food intake. There definitely are some differences between regular meat and lean meat, and they each have the potential to be the better choice for different people.

In a Live Chat with nutritionist and dietitian Ellie Krieger, The Washington Post asked her, “Is there a significant difference in fat or calories for cooked and drained lean ground beef compared to cooked and drained regular ground beef? What about ground turkey meat?” [1] This question is already set up for Krieger to specify certain differences between ground beef, which can be bought in regular and lean varieties. The question also asks about another commonly consumed lean meat, ground turkey, which many people see as a healthier alternative to ground beef.

In response to these questions, Krieger states, “Before draining, there is quite a difference in their fat and calorie content--196 cals and 10g fat for 3 ounces of the 90% lean beef and 230 cals and 13g fat for 3 ounces of 70% lean.” [1] With this information, it is clear that lean meat may be better for individuals who are on a low calorie or low fat diet. Krieger goes on to suggest just buying the lean choice instead of draining the fat from regular meat because, “Once you drain it you can remove much of the fat from the fattier ground beef, but you can't remove it all, and since you are paying by the pound, you are essentially throwing away more money.” [1] Keeping this in mind, if you are looking to consume leaner meat, it would be a better decision, financially, to just buy the lean meat instead of trimming fat from cuts of meat or draining the fat from ground meat due to the price per pound.

If you prefer poultry to beef, Krieger’s response to the same question regarding ground turkey may help you sort your choices. Krieger states, “Turkey can be purchased with nearly 0% fat, but I find that can be a bit dry to cook with. I prefer a mix of light and dark poultry coming in at about 92%lean, still leaner than most ground beef.” [1] So, ground turkey or turkey, in general, is a better choice if you’re looking for a leaner meat. However, it does run the risk of being dry, which may not be palatable to some individuals.

So, as you can see, there are some differences between regular meat and lean meat. The calorie level, fat content, and moisture are all things to take into consideration before you choose which meat is the right one for you to buy for your health or lifestyle choices.


1. WP Company. (n.d.). Ellie Krieger on Healthful eating. The Washington Post. Retrieved February 8, 2022, from



Author: Lauryn Agron

Editor: Kayjah Taylor

Health scientist: Aseelah Saiyed

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