20 of the Leanest Cuts of Meat

Last Updated on May 20, 2022 by Michael Joseph

There are many different meat products, and they can all be quite different nutritionally.

For example, some people may prefer fattier cuts of meat like steak with extensive marbling.

On the other hand, others may prioritize leaner cuts of meat.

Leaner cuts of meat have a higher protein content and are lower in fat. Thus, they also contain fewer calories.

This guide presents 20 protein-dense lean cuts of meat, alongside their calorie, fat, and protein content.

The data source for all nutritional values is the USDA’s FoodData Central nutrition database, and it is based on per-100-gram (3.5 oz) servings.

Diced Lean Meat On Chopping Board.

1) Beef, flank, lean

Flank steak, also known as skirt steak, is a lean cut of beef, particularly when trimmed of visible fat.

The following table shows the nutritional data for lean flank steak by raw and cooked (braised) weight (1, 2).

NamePer 100g rawPer 100g cookedPer 100 calories cooked
Calories149 kcal237 kcal100 kcal
Fat6.29g13.0g5.49g
Saturated fat2.61g5.54g2.34g
Protein21.7g28.0g7.56g
Table 1: Calorie, fat, and protein content of lean flank steak

2) Beef, eye of round steak, lean

Also known as beef silverside, beef eye of round steak is one of the leanest cuts of meat.

The following table shows the energy, protein, and fat content of beef eye of round steak by raw and cooked (grilled) weight (3, 4).

NamePer 100g rawPer 100g cookedPer 100 calories cooked
Calories127 kcal158 kcal100 kcal
Fat3.83g4.26g2.70g
Saturated fat1.34g1.48g0.94g
Protein23.2g29.9g18.92g
Table 2: Calorie, fat, and protein content of beef eye of round steak

3) Beef, ground, 3% fat, 97% lean

Lean ground beef can vary by fat content, but the 97% lean variety is one of the leanest meats.

The table below shows the nutritional data for 97% lean ground beef by raw and cooked (baked) weight (5, 6).

NamePer 100g rawPer 100g cookedPer 100 calories cooked
Calories121 kcal154 kcal100 kcal
Fat3.0g4.06g2.63g
Saturated fat1.48g2.01g1.31g
Protein22.0g27.6g17.92g
Table 3: Calorie, fat, and protein content of 97% lean ground beef

4) Beef, liver

Beef liver is a type of organ meat, also known as ‘offal’ or ‘variety cut.’

Compared to regular cuts of meat, liver has a low fat content, and it tends to be high in protein.

Here are the protein, fat, and energy data for beef liver by raw and cooked (braised) weight (7, 8).

NamePer 100g rawPer 100g cookedPer 100 calories cooked
Calories135 kcal191 kcal100 kcal
Fat3.63g5.26g2.75g
Saturated fat1.23g2.95g1.54g
Protein20.4g29.1g15.24g
Table 4: Calorie, fat, and protein content of beef liver

5) Beef, sirloin tri-tip, lean

Beef sirloin tri-tip is a lean meat cut, but its name can cause some confusion depending on where you live.

Despite ‘sirloin’ also being a cut of meat in the United Kingdom, the American ‘sirloin’ is known as rump steak in the UK.

Per 100 grams, here is the nutritional data for lean sirloin steak by raw and cooked (roasted) weight (9, 10).

NamePer 100g rawPer 100g cookedPer 100 calories cooked
Calories154 kcal193 kcal100 kcal
Fat7.06g9.73g5.04g
Saturated fat2.13g3.53g1.83g
Protein21.2g26.3g13.62g
Table 5: Calorie, fat, and protein content of sirloin, tri-tip roast

6) Beef, top round, lean

Beef top round steak is another meat cut among the leanest options.

Depending on the country, this cut of meat may also be referred to as ‘topside.’

Here are the nutritional values for energy, fat, and protein content for lean top round by raw and cooked (braised) weight (11, 12).

NamePer 100g rawPer 100g cookedPer 100 calories cooked
Calories124 kcal207 kcal100 kcal
Fat3.26g5.8g2.80g
Saturated fat1.25g1.99g0.96g
Protein23.6g36.1g17.44g
Table 6: Calorie, fat, and protein content of beef top round steak

7) Bison, ribeye, lean

Gram for gram, bison meat tends to be leaner than beef.

For instance, a lean bison ribeye trimmed of fat only has 116 calories and 2.4 grams of fat per 100 grams as sold (13).

Here is lean bison ribeye’s calorie, fat, and protein content by raw and cooked (broiled) weight (13, 14).

NamePer 100g rawPer 100g cookedPer 100 calories cooked
Calories116 kcal177 kcal100 kcal
Fat2.4g5.67g3.20g
Saturated fat0.90g2.42g1.37g
Protein22.1g29.4g16.61g
Table 7: Calorie, fat, and protein content of bison ribeye

8) Chicken, breast, skinless

Chicken breasts are probably what many people think of when they hear ‘low-fat’ and high-‘protein.’

Most of the fat from chicken breast comes from the skin; opting for skinless chicken breast is one of the leanest meat options.

Here is the nutritional data for skinless chicken breast’s calorie, fat, and protein provision (15, 16).

NamePer 100g rawPer 100g cookedPer 100 calories cooked
Calories120 kcal151 kcal100 kcal
Fat2.62g3.17g2.09g
Saturated fat0.56g0.99g0.66g
Protein22.5g30.5g20.20g
Table 8: Calorie, fat, and protein content of skinless chicken breast

9) Chicken, leg/drumstick, skinless

With the skin on, chicken drumsticks are relatively fatty and high in calories compared to other cuts of chicken.

However, skinless chicken drumsticks are lean and protein-dense.

Per 100 grams, skinless chicken drumsticks provide the following nutritional values by raw and cooked (roasted) weight (17, 18).

NamePer 100g rawPer 100g cookedPer 100 calories cooked
Calories120 kcal174 kcal100 kcal
Fat4.22g7.8g4.48g
Saturated fat1.05g2.11g1.21g
Protein19.2g24.2g13.91g
Table 9: Calorie, fat, and protein content of skinless chicken drumstick

10) Chicken, liver

Like other liver products, chicken liver is also a lean, high-protein option.

Here is the nutritional data for the calorie, fat, and protein provision by raw and cooked (simmered) weight (19, 20).

NamePer 100g rawPer 100g cookedPer 100 calories cooked
Calories119 kcal167 kcal100 kcal
Fat4.83g6.51g3.90g
Saturated fat1.56g2.06g1.23g
Protein16.9g24.5g14.67g
Table 10: Calorie, fat, and protein content of chicken liver

11) Duck breast, skinless

In addition to chicken, other forms of poultry tend to be a good source of lean protein.

Among these, duck breast (without skin) is one of the leanest choices.

Here is the data for calories, fat, and protein for skinless duck breast by raw and cooked (broiled) weight (21, 22).

NamePer 100g rawPer 100g cookedPer 100 calories cooked
Calories123 kcal140 kcal100 kcal
Fat4.25g2.5g1.79g
Saturated fat1.32g0.58g0.41g
Protein19.8g27.6g19.71g
Table 11: Calorie, fat, and protein content of skinless duck breast

12) Pork, ground, 96% lean, 4% fat

Like all meats, leaner ground pork can be highly lean with minimal fat content.

Based on 96% lean ground pork, the calorie, fat, and protein content will be as follows (23, 24).

NamePer 100g rawPer 100g cookedPer 100 calories cooked
Calories121 kcal185 kcal100 kcal
Fat4.0g6.2g3.35g
Saturated fat1.42g1.86g1.01g
Protein21.1g31.7g17.13g
Table 12: Calorie, fat, and protein content of 96% lean ground pork

13) Pork, liver

Pork liver is just as lean as other varieties of liver.

For instance, pork liver is lower in calories and fat yet higher in protein than many cuts of pork.

Here are the calorie, fat, and protein values for pork liver by raw and cooked (braised) weight (25, 26).

NamePer 100g rawPer 100g cookedPer 100 calories cooked
Calories134 kcal165 kcal100 kcal
Fat3.65g4.4g2.67g
Saturated fat1.17g1.41g0.85g
Protein21.4g26.0g15.76g
Table 13: Calorie, fat, and protein content of pork liver

14) Pork, tenderloin, lean

Pork tenderloin is the leanest type of pork you can buy, and lean cuts provide only slightly more than 2% fat by raw weight (27).

Here is the data for calories, fat, and protein for pork tenderloin by raw and cooked (roasted) weight (27, 28).

NamePer 100g rawPer 100g cookedPer 100 calories cooked
Calories109 kcal143 kcal100 kcal
Fat2.17g3.51g2.45g
Saturated fat0.70g1.20g0.84g
Protein21.0g26.2g18.32g
Table 14: Calorie, fat, and protein content of pork tenderloin

15) Pork, top loin (chops), lean

Pork top loin chops are among the leanest cuts of pork, with only 3% fat by raw weight (29).

The table below shows the calorie, fat, and protein content of pork top loin by raw and cooked (roasted) weight (29, 30).

NamePer 100g rawPer 100g cookedPer 100 calories cooked
Calories127 kcal173 kcal100 kcal
Fat3.42g6.28g3.63g
Saturated fat1.21g1.93g1.12g
Protein22.4g27.2g15.72g
Table 15: Calorie, fat, and protein content of lean pork top loin chops

16) Turkey, breast, skinless

Most people recognize chicken breast as a lean, high-protein option. However, turkey breast has an even lower fat content gram for gram.

As with other forms of poultry, most of the fat content comes in the skin, so skinless turkey breast is the leanest option.

Per 100 grams, skinless turkey breast provides the following calorie, fat, and protein values by raw and cooked (roasted) weight (31, 32).

NamePer 100g rawPer 100g cookedPer 100 calories cooked
Calories114 kcal147 kcal100 kcal
Fat1.48g2.08g1.41g
Saturated fat0.29g0.59g0.40g
Protein23.7g30.1g20.48g
Table 16: Calorie, fat, and protein content of skinless turkey breast

17) Turkey, ground, 93% lean, 7% fat

As with other types of ground meat, there are various ground turkey options.

The higher the lean %, the lower the fat and calorie content.

While it is possible to find ground turkey with a higher lean percentage than 93%, this 93% is the leanest option with an entry in the USDA’s nutritional database.

93% lean ground turkey provides the following calorie, fat, and protein values by raw and (broiled) cooked weight (33, 34).

It is also worth noting that there are some low-fat turkey bacon products that can be very low in fat yet high in protein.

NamePer 100g rawPer 100g cookedPer 100 calories cooked
Calories150 kcal207 kcal100 kcal
Fat8.34g11.4g5.51g
Saturated fat2.17g2.96g1.43g
Protein18.7g25.9g12.51g
Table 17: Calorie, fat, and protein content of 93% lean ground turkey

18) Turkey, leg/drumstick, skinless

Like chicken, a turkey drumstick without the skin is a lean cut of poultry.

Per 100 grams, a skinless turkey drumstick will provide the following values for calories, fat, and protein by raw and cooked (roasted) weight (35, 36).

NamePer 100g rawPer 100g cookedPer 100 calories cooked
Calories118 kcal173 kcal100 kcal
Fat3.97g6.52g3.77g
Saturated fat1.07g1.71g0.99g
Protein20.5g28.6g16.53g
Table 18: Calorie, fat, and protein content of skinless turkey drumstick

19) Venison, loin steak, lean

Similar to bison, venison is another form of red meat that tends to be leaner than beef and pork.

Unfortunately, the USDA nutritional database does not contain an entry for raw venison.

However, the table below shows the nutritional values for calories, fat, and protein for a lean venison loin steak after broiling (37).

NamePer 100g rawPer 100g cookedPer 100 calories cooked
Calories150 kcal100 kcal
Fat2.38g1.59g
Saturated fat1.35g0.90g
Protein30.2g20.1g
Table 19: Calorie, fat, and protein content of venison loin steak, lean

20) White fish

Some people include fish in their definition of ‘meat,’ and others don’t.

However, there is no mistaking that white fish is an excellent option for those looking for lean protein.

White fish varieties, such as bass, cod, haddock, halibut, and pollock all contain low amounts of calories and fat. They also provide a good amount of dietary protein.

The following table shows the calorie, fat, and protein content of cod by raw and cooked weight (38, 39).

NamePer 100g rawPer 100g cookedPer 100 calories cooked
Calories82 kcal105 kcal100 kcal
Fat0.67g0.86g0.82g
Saturated fat0.13g0.17g0.16g
Protein17.8g22.8g21.71g
Table 20: Calorie, fat, and protein content of cod

Common Questions

Which is the leanest cut of beef?

It will be difficult to find a leaner beef option than 97% lean ground beef. Additionally, the leanest cut of beef is the eye of round steak, which has only 4.26 grams of fat when cooked.

What cut of pork is the leanest option?

Pork tenderloin, trimmed of visible fat, will be the leanest common cut of pork.

Which poultry products are the leanest?

The leanest poultry products include skinless chicken, duck, and turkey breast. Each option has approximately 2-3 grams of fat per 100 grams cooked.

Why do some people want lean cuts of meat?

There are several reasons people may wish to opt for a lean cut of meat. Firstly, they are lower in fat (and hence calories), so all else being equal, they can reduce the energy intake of a particular diet. As part of a healthy overall diet and lifestyle routine, this may help with weight loss. Additionally, large amounts of saturated fat in the diet can increase LDL cholesterol levels, thus increasing cardiovascular risk (40, 41). For this reason, individuals trying to lower their cholesterol levels may prefer leaner cuts of meat.

How To Cook Lean Meat

One of the main reasons some people don’t like to use lean meat is that it tends to be tougher than fattier cuts of meat.

This lack of tenderness combined with less flavor can sometimes make lean cuts of meat a bit bland in the taste department.

For this reason, here are some ways to improve the flavor of lean meats:

  • Add diced lean meat, vegetables, and broth of choice to a slow cooker and cook for several hours. The longer cooking time will help to make the meat more tender.
  • Dice the lean meat, and combine with vegetables, soy sauce, sesame oil, and any other flavors of choice in a stir-fry.
  • Add diced lean meat to curries, soups, and stews.
  • Make a marinade/sauce for the lean meat using favored ingredients. Some good ingredients to pick and choose from include: hot sauce, Maggi, soy sauce, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, ginger, honey, olive oil, and sesame oil.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments