Reduce by Half Episode 43: New Year, Lean Meat

Happy New Year! It’s a common New Year’s resolution to want to eat healthier, and we are here to support your quest to eat healthy, but also delicious food. In this episode of the podcast, we tell you what a lean cut of meat is, help you identify lean cuts, share tips on how to cook and season them, and then also talk about one of our favorite recipes that uses a lean cut of meat. Listen using the player below, click here to listen on iTunes, or your favorite podcast app, and keep reading for a recap of the episode!


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

As we stated in the podcast, there are plenty of cuts of meat that meet these guidelines. Here’s a list:


  • 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


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


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

If you don’t want to memorize that list, remember these general guidelines for finding lean cuts of 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.

Lean meat cooking and seasoning tips

Without intramuscular marbling, lean meat items can be less tender and flavorful than items that have more intramuscular fat, like a Ribeye Steak. Here are a couple tips on cooking methods for lean meats:

  • Don’t take lean beef or pork items past medium doneness (about 145°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.

In addition to our cooking tips, 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.

Follow these tips, and you’ll have delicious, healthy meals!

smoked chimichurri tri tip steak recipe

Smoked Chimichurri Tri Tip

Tri tips are one of my favorite cuts of steak, and as an added benefit, they just so happen to be lean! Here’s a recipe that uses a lean cut of meat, a low and slow cooking method (smoking), and a sauce based on olive oil and vinegar to add extra flavor. Try it at home!

You can get the full recipe here.

Thanks for tuning in to this episode, we hope you found it helpful, and we hope you accomplish all of your health goals in 2019! If you have any questions, please feel free to leave us a comment below, and we’ll be happy to answer. We appreciate your feedback, and especially appreciate reviews and ratings on the iTunes store, as well as sharing the podcast with your friends. Happy 2019!


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