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All About Lean Meats

It’s totally possible to eat healthy and enjoy the great taste of meat from Lake Geneva Country Meats! As the meat experts, we’re here to help you learn more about lean cuts of meat and how you can prepare them in ways to maximize their flavor. There are lots of lean cuts of meat available at LGCM that provide needed protein with little fat. Keep reading to learn more!

What Exactly Is a Lean Cut of Meat?

The first thing you probably want to know is what makes a cut of meat “lean”? Is it leaning up against a wall all the time or what? Haha, very funny pun, but no, a lean cut of meat is a cut of meat that delivers nutritionally valuable protein with a minimum of fat. Lean meat isn’t just a made up term that we here at LGCM throw around without scientific evidence. Lean meat is a term controlled by the USDA, and cuts need to meet specific nutritional guidelines to be considered a lean (or extra lean) cut of meat. Here are those guidelines:

  • Lean Meat – per 3 oz. cooked serving:
    • Less than 10 grams total fat
    • Less than 4.5 grams saturated fat
    • Less than 95 milligrams cholesterol
  • Extra Lean Meat – per 3 oz. cooked serving:
    • Less than 5 grams total fat
    • Less than 2 grams saturated fat
    • Less than 95 milligrams cholesterol

Okay, That’s Great, But What Are Some Lean Cuts of Meat?

It’s great to know the nutritional guidelines for lean meat, but it’s more important to know what cuts meet the definition. Here’s a partial list of lean meat items available at LGCM. After cooking and trimming any visible fat, all of these items meat the definition of lean or extra lean:

Pork

  • Extra Lean
    • Pork Tenderloin
  • Lean
    • Pork Loin Chops
    • Boneless Pork Loin Roasts

Beef

  • Extra Lean
    • Eye of Round Roast / Steak
    • Rump Roast
  • Lean
    • Round Steaks / Cube Steaks
    • New York Strip Steaks
    • Flank Steaks
    • Whole Tenderloins / Tenderloin Filets
    • Brisket Flats
    • Tri Tip Steaks
    • T-Bone Steaks
    • Ground Sirloin

Poultry

  • Extra Lean
    • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
    • Boneless Skinless Turkey Breasts
  • Lean
    • Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
    • Ground Chicken
    • Ground Turkey

Unfortunately bacon is not on this list 🙁

That’s a Pretty Big List! Any Rules of Thumb to Help Find Lean Meats?

Yes, definitely! If you don’t want to memorize the whole list of lean meats, here are some quick tips on how to locate a lean meat:

  • Look for cuts of beef that come from the round (rear leg) or loin of the animal. Anything that has “loin” or “round” in the name is a good bet.
  • Look for cuts of pork that come from the loin. Again, anything that has “loin” in the name is a pretty strong bet to be lean.
  • Look for cuts of poultry that are boneless and skinless. These are generally going to be your most lean options.

Okay, Do I Need to Do Anything Special to Cook These Items?

Good question! Without intramuscular marbling, lean meat items can be less tender and flavorful than items that have more intramuscular fat, like a Ribeye Steak. The lack of intramuscular fat means more balanced nutrition, but less moisture when cooking. We want to make sure that we do not further reduce the moisture levels in these items when we cook, so here are a couple tips on cooking methods for lean meats:

  • Don’t take lean beef or pork items past medium doneness (about 140°F) – any more and they will get tough and chewy! We cannot say this enough – DO NOT OVER COOK LEAN MEATS, YOUR TASTE BUDS WILL NOT BE HAPPY!
  • Low and slow cooking methods will often help you achieve the best results for lean meats. You can use either dry heat methods like oven roasting or wet heat methods like braising or slow cooking.
  • If you want to get really next level fancy, sous vide cooking is the ultimate way to keep food tender and moist. Nick uses an Anova cooker at home – visit their website to learn more about this method of cooking!
  • You can definitely grill or broil lean meats, but watch your times to not overcook the meats.
  • Leave any visible fat on the meat while cooking, but then trim it off before you eat.

Those Are Great Cooking Tips! Any Tips for Healthy Seasoning?

Thanks for the compliment! Now that you’re cooking the meats properly, here are a few general tips to further season these items without adding extra fat.

  • Use a rub on the outside of the meat while cooking to add flavor without significant caloric additions.
  • If you’re also watching your salt intake, use a sodium free seasoning blend, or just mix together your favorite fresh or dried herbs!
  • Using vinegar, red wine or soy sauce to marinate meat is a healthier option than using cream based marinades.
  • If using oils to sauté meat, oils like olive oil or vegetable oil are a better choice than butter or shortening.

Thanks for reading – we hope you found this guide useful! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask a Meat Ambassador when you’re in the store or contact us and we’ll try out best to answer your questions. You can also use these fantastic online nutritional resources:

Cheers to a healthy lifestyle filled with delicious protein rich meals and see you soon at Lake Geneva Country Meats!

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