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The Recommended Meat Serving at a Meal

author image Debra McKenzie
Based in Chapel Hill, N.C., Debra McKenzie has been writing since 2001. Her work has appeared in journals, including "JADA" and "Obesity Research," and in the textbook "Nutrition in the Prevention and Treatment of Disease." She holds a Master of Science in nutrition from University of Vermont and completed her dietetic internship at Meredith College.
The Recommended Meat Serving at a Meal
A woman is preparing a meal of chicken and vegetables. Photo Credit MangoNic/iStock/Getty Images

Meat is a good source of protein and other important nutrients; but meat also contains saturated fat, which can clog your arteries, so you should not eat too much. The amount of meat an individual should consume is based on individual protein and calorie needs. Consuming more than 18 ounces of red meat per week is associated with an increased risk of colon cancer, according to Harvard School of Public Health, so it is important to follow recommended guidelines. The Choose My Plate guidelines suggest filling a quarter of your plate with a protein source, which can include animal proteins.


Meat provides protein, the building block of muscle, bone, cartilage, skin, enzymes and hormones. It is also a source of calories for energy; B vitamins, which are essential for energy, a healthy nervous system, tissue and red blood cell formation; and iron, zinc and magnesium, which are important minerals for biochemical function.

Recommended Daily Intake

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommend meat eaters consume between 24 and 34 ounces of meat, poultry and eggs each week, depending on individual calorie needs. That is between 3 and 5 ounces per day at 7 grams of protein per ounce. This helps meet the recommended protein intake of 8 grams per 20 lbs of body weight.

Serving Size

A serving of most kinds of meat and protein-rich foods is one ounce. Servings of meat substitutes include two egg whites and 1/4 cup egg substitute. Choose lean and low-fat meats to watch fat and calorie intake. Consume two to three servings per meal to meet recommendations.

Meeting Protein Needs

You should spread your protein throughout the day to help meet your nutrient needs and keep your glucose levels stable. However, you can concentrate your meat at one meal and spread other proteins throughout the day. For example, you can have 3 to 5 ounces of lean meat for your evening meal, then have yogurt or milk at breakfast, a peanut butter sandwich at lunch, and a side of beans at dinner. Or you can spread your meat servings across the day by, for example, having an egg at breakfast, 2 ounces turkey breast on a sandwich for lunch and 2 ounces roast beef for dinner. Add servings of nuts, fish, beans and dairy to meet the rest of your protein needs.

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