Meat Face-Off: Are You Making The Best Protein Choices?

Looking to maintain a favorable body composition? You may want to put more thought into the types of protein.

There's no doubt that getting enough protein into your daily diet is vital to ensure that you have success with the program.

If you're not getting enough, you seriously risk losing muscle mass, not recovering properly after your workout, and not making the progress you could be from your workouts. But, is it enough to just 'get enough protein'?

If you're looking to maintain any type of favorable body composition, you may want to put a bit more thought into the good and bad sources of protein out there.

Not to say that there are bad amino acids as they all are utilized for some function in the body, but if you aren't choosing carefully you may end up with more fat than you bargained for.

Here's the low-down on some of the top meat choices people are making. Can you recognize the good from bad?

Protein Sources


One of the most widely eaten meats in the bodybuilding world, chicken is one of the best varieties to choose. It's very lean (provided you are choosing chicken breasts) and easy to cook and prepare. This meat is also frozen very well so you can prepare it ahead of time if you wish to make meal times fast and easy.

The only drawback to chicken is that it doesn't provide a great deal of iron content, so if you're concerned about that mineral and only eating chicken as your main meat source, you should consider supplementing with iron.


More individuals are starting to include lamb regularly in their diet as the taste is really enjoyable and gives them a change of pace from the usual chicken and beef.

You really must watch your portion size with lamb however as it's one of the fattier varieties of red meat. So if you eat too much of it, you're going to put yourself at risk for a variety of different diseases, not to mention likely gain body fat.

3 ounces of lamb is going to provide you with 248 calories, 20.7 grams of protein and 17.68 grams of fat. To put this into perspective, this meat is 64% fat so you can clearly see how it's not the best protein choice for a nutritious diet. What's worse is that almost half that fat is the saturated variety, further upping your disease risk significantly.

If you're someone who simply cannot part with the lamb in their diet, at least make an effort to eat it once a week at most. This will help reduce the negative implications it has on your body.

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The next most popular protein source after chicken is beef. With all the different forms of beef out there, there's plenty to choose from and the selection you make will most definitely influence the nutrition you receive.

Eye-of-round beef tends to be the leanest, however top round is also quite lean. You can also purchase extra lean ground beef which does have quite a bit of the fat removed, but it's by no means as lean as chicken would be.

Beef is also going to provide you with a source of iron, so it's a good choice in that regard. The drawback to eating beef however is that many studies have revealed that an increased consumption of red meat is positively correlated to a variety of serious health problems.

If you're going to eat beef, like with lamb, it's best to keep it limited to only a few times a week at most and be extra certain you're choosing leaner cuts.


It doesn't take much knowledge about nutrition to realize that although bacon may taste absolutely fantastic, it's not really going to do a great deal for maintaining a healthy body.

Not only is bacon about 69% total fat, but it's also very high in cholesterol, sodium, and other preservatives that are going to do anything but promote good health.

Your best bet is to just opt away from eating bacon entirely. There's just no healthy way to prepare it nor will it really provide enough protein to really be beneficial to your muscle-building goals anyway. Bacon should essentially come with the health advisory of 'eat at your own risk'.


Pepperoni is one of the most popular toppings added to pizza and some people even snack on it with cheese and crackers or lay it over other meats on their lunch sandwich.

Just like bacon, you're really testing the nutritional waters with pepperoni as it has over twice the fat grams than it does protein with 80% of its total calories come from fat (since fat is a more calorie dense nutrient than protein). Additionally, of that fat, almost 75% is saturated fat and contains 105 milligrams of cholesterol for every 100 gram serving.

It contains very little iron but a great deal of sodium, which is opposite of what you're looking for with a protein selection. Just like bacon, you're better off opting away from this protein source. Order ham on your pizza, or even better, choose one of the baked chicken varieties that are becoming more readily available in most pizza houses.


You've probably come across some type of advertisement at some point in the distant past that's promoting the health benefits of selecting pork. Traditionally one of the more unpopular sources of protein, nutritionists are trying to bring awareness about this type of meat.

With pork, it's important to remember that selection will vary. If you opt for pork sausage, you're choosing one of the worst things you could be putting into your body. It's full of saturated fat and chemicals used during the processing of it, all which will set you up for disease and negative nutritional status.

If instead you opt for a lean piece of pork leg, you'll only take in 6 grams of fat total in a 3 oz cooked portion. It'll also offer you almost 15 grams of protein, tilting the scales in favor of protein compared to fat in the total make-up of the meat.

Protein Sources by the numbers

Food Calories Protein Carbs Fat
Chicken Breast 172 48% 0% 48%
Lamb 267 25% 0% 73%
Ground Beef 137 63% 0% 33%
Bacon 556 6% 0% 93%
Pepperoni 497 17% 2% 80%
Pork 397 15% 0% 84%


So be sure you're keeping this information in mind. If you're looking to lose fat, it really will be best to try and focus as much of your intake around chicken, fish, egg whites, and protein powder; however, the odd addition of lean beef or pork can still be included in a regular sound diet.