All About Beef

For bodybuilders, beef is an important part of a healthy diet. Learn about the different types of beef, the protein and fat in each one, and find some great recipes!

For bodybuilders, beef is an important part of a healthy diet. Shopping for the different cuts of meat can be difficult sometimes, especially if you don't know the nutritional value of the beef. In this section, we will show you the following:

  • Different cuts of beef
  • Nutritional value of each cut
  • Recipes for each cut
  • And much more


Most American cattle breeds are descendents of animals imported, possibly by the Vikings, during the early 1000s. Columbus and other early explorers also brought cattle on board their ships. Today, over 100 million head of cattle live in the United States and Canada. Beef is available in many different cuts, including steaks, roasts, brisket, stew meat, and ground beef. Tender cuts come from the ribs and loin. Tougher cuts come from the rump and shoulder. Prime beef has thin layers of fat, called marbling, running visibly through the muscle. Choice beef has little or no marbling but a layer of pinkish fat on the outer edges.

The Importance Of Beef

Many of us are trying to eat healthily. We are adding more whole grains and fresh vegetables to our diets, and eating less saturated fat. Beef is part of a healthy diet. Beef makes a meal filling, satisfying, and festive. Think back to the wonderful standing rib roasts of Christmas past, those made-to-order steaks for the annual 4th of July barbecue, or mom's famous spaghetti and meatball special. Beef is what makes the meal memorable. You can still enjoy these classics. Remember, while red meat does contain a fair amount of fat, it is also a concentrated source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Eaten in moderation, it can be a part of a well balanced diet.

Beef is divided into primal cuts. From these larger sections, your butcher makes smaller cuts suitable for individual or family size portions. Different cuts require different treatment. For instance, chuck makes an excellent roast, but will be tough and chewy if pan-broiled. With this in mind, we have prepared this handy chart. The following is by no means an exhaustive list of the possible divisions of each section, but will give you some idea of the special characteristics and uses of each area. Besides being a simple anatomy lesson, it will help you make sense of that long meat counter.

Nutritional Breakdowns—Which Cut Is Best?

Each cut has a different amount of calories, protein and fat. As a bodybuilder, the choice you make can make a big difference. Check out the table below. Highlights of the best from this table are below the table.

Note: Beef does not contain any carbohydrates.

Cut Type
Grams Protein
Grams Fat

Chuck, 3 oz.
Ribs, 3 oz.
Short Loin, 3 oz.
Sirloin, 3 oz.
Flank, 3 oz.
Round, 3 oz.
Beef Brisket, 3 oz.
Corned Beef Brisket, 3 oz.

The Winning Bodybuilding Cut?

Although most of the beef cuts are pretty good when eaten in moderation, the Round cut is by far the best! It has the highest protein AND the least fat. Learn more about each type below and find great recipes!


Meat is muscle. Meat that has been heavily exercised tends to be tough, and chuck fits this description. However, chuck does have a saving grace. There is a lot of connective tissue in this area, in particular collagen. Collagen melts during cooking, making the meat intensely flavorful. Cuts from this area benefit from slow wet cooking methods, such as stewing, braising, or pot-roasting.

Blade Roast: This inexpensive cut lies next to the ribs, and is more tender than most chuck. It makes an excellent roast. Alternatively, you can be cut the roast into a rib-eye steak, and use the meat above and below the bone for stir-fry dishes.

Chuck Steak: A good choice for kabobs if well marinated.

Nutritional Highlights:

Chuck roast (fat trimmed to 1/4 inch [0.6cm], braised),, 3oz. (85.05g)
Calories: 282.2
Protein: 23.3g
Carbohydrate: 0.0g
Total Fat: 20.2g
Fiber: 0.0g


The ribs are tender and flavorful, and can be cooked in a number of ways—roasted, sauteed, pan-fried, broiled, or grilled.

Rib Roast: Available with the bone, known as a standing rib roast, or without the bone for convenient slicing. It is one of the best choices for dry roasting. A 7 bone prime rib roast can be quite a hefty addition to the dinner table. It is great for a crowd, but for a small family of 3 or 4 a bone roast will do. If you can't find what you want at the supermarket, you can ask the butcher to cut it to order.

Rib Steak: Cut from the rib section, these tender steaks can be purchased bone in or as boneless rib-eye.

Nutritional Highlights:

Beef ribs, whole (fat trimmed to 1/4" [0.6cm]) broiled, 3 oz. (85.5g)
Calories: 306.1
Protein: 18.6g
Carbohydrate: 0.0g
Total Fat: 25.1g
Fiber: 0.0g

Short Loin

Cuts from this area are very tender, and can be prepared without the aid of moist heat or long cooking times. You can saute, pan fry, broil, pan broil, or grill these cuts. The steaks cut from this area are especially tender.

Porterhouse Steak: Cut from the rear end of the short loin, porterhouse is very popular. The name originated from the days when it was served in public alehouses that also served a dark beer called porter. It consists of a hefty chunk of tenderloin with an even heftier chunk of sirloin tip. Some folks like to remove the tenderloin to serve separately as filet mignon. Others cook the whole thing, and cut it into several portions.

T-bone Steak: Cut from the middle section of the short loin, a T-bone steak is similar to the porterhouse steak; it has a smaller piece of the tenderloin. Grilled or pan-fried, this steak is tender and tasty.

Club Steak: This steak has many names—Delmonico, New York strip loin, Kansas City steak, strip steak, and shell steak. It is cut from the rib end of the short loin. It has a bone along one side, and contains no portion of tenderloin.

Tenderloin: Although considered by many to be the most tender cut of beef, this portion of the loin seems to have less of that meaty flavor. For this reason it responds well to sauces, meaning the meat does not overpower the flavor of the sauce. It can be cut as the whole strip, or into individual steaks for filet mignon.

Nutritional Highlights:

T-bone steak (fat trimmed to 1/4 inch [0.6cm], broiled), 3 oz. (85.05g)
Calories: 262.6
Protein: 19.7g
Carbohydrate: 0.0g
Total Fat: 19.8g
Fiber: 0.0g


The sirloin is where the backbone's connected to the hipbone. Still very tender, these cuts respond well to sauteing, pan-frying, broiling, pan-broiling, or grilling. Marinating is recommended.

Sirloin Steaks: Come with three varieties of bones. The pin bone steak is the most tender, followed in order of decreasing tenderness by the flat, round, and wedge bone steaks. These are large steaks, suitable for the whole family. Sirloin steaks are also available in a variety of boneless steaks.

Sirloin Tip Roast: Tender enough for a dry roasting method, this roast is best when well marinated.

Nutritional Highlights:

Top sirloin steak (fat trimmed to 1/4 inch [0.6cm], broiled), 3oz. (85.05g)
Calories: 219.3
Protein: 23.6g
Carbohydrate: 0.0g
Total Fat: 13.0g
Fiber: 0.0g


This meat is lean and muscular. As expected it is somewhat tough, but is also flavorful. Flank is primarily used for flank steaks and rolled flank steaks. It can also be used for kabobs. Medium-rare is the perfect doneness for these cuts; anything more, and the meat will be dry and tough.

Flank Steak: This steak has a great flavor, and should be sliced against the grain for maximum chewability. Use for classic London Broil.

Nutritional Highlights:

Beef (flank, cooked), 3 oz. (85.05g)
Calories: 192.1
Protein: 22.4g
Carbohydrate: 0.0g
Total Fat: 10.6g
Fiber: 0.0g


Round has become popular as of late due to the leanness of the meat. However, there is a lot a of variability in the tenderness of cuts from this section. Err on the side of long, moist cooking methods.

Top Round: This is the most tender part of the round; it can be prepared as pot roast, or cut into thick steaks for braised dishes.

Rump Roast: This is a very popular cut for pot roast, but can also be roasted at low temperatures.

Nutritional Highlights:

Beef top round steak (cooked), 3oz. (85g)
Calories: 183.6
Protein: 25.6g
Carbohydrate: 0.0g
Total Fat: 8.1g
Fiber: 0.0g


Traditionally used for corned beef, brisket is chewy and tough, and should be prepared with moist heat. The best preparation methods for fresh brisket are stewing, braising, and pot-roasting.

Foreshank: A wonderful stew meat.

Brisket First Cut: This is a leaner cut of the brisket, for those who want the flavor but not the fat of a brisket pot roast.

Brisket Front Cut: Fork tender and wonderfully succulent, a pot roast made with this cut cannot be beat!

Nutritional Highlights:

Beef brisket (fat trimmed to 1/4 inch [0.6cm], braised), 3oz. (85.05g)
Calories: 309.4
Protein: 21.3g
Carbohydrate: 0.0g
Total Fat: 24.2g
Fiber: 0.0g

Corned beef brisket (cooked), 3 oz. (85.05g)
Calories: 213.3
Protein: 15.4g
Carbohydrate: 0.3g
Total Fat: 16.1g
Fiber: 0.0g