Ground beef is a complete protein that gives you lots of the essential amino acids your body needs for cell and energy functions. You’ll get anywhere from 25 to 29 grams of protein per serving of ground beef. Although all varieties of the ground meat give you plenty of protein, not all of them are particularly good for you.
Very Lean Ground Beef
In general, the leaner the ground beef, the higher the protein content, although only by a small amount. If you enjoy a 3 1/2-ounce broiled patty that's 85-percent lean, you’ll get 25 to 28 grams of protein. Having the same amount of 90-percent lean ground beef gives you 26 to 28.5 grams of protein. If you select very lean, 95-percent ground beef, you’ll get from 26 grams to more than 29 grams of protein per 3 1/2-ounce cooked serving.
Fatty Ground Beef
Cooked ground beef that's 70-percent lean provides about 25.5 grams of protein in a 3 1/2-ounce portion. The slightly leaner 75-percent lean, broiled ground beef contains closer to 26 grams of protein for the same serving size. If you have 80-percent lean ground beef, you’ll get roughly 25 to 27 grams of protein, based on a 3 1/2-ounce cooked serving size.
You should be getting at least 56 grams of protein per day if you’re a healthy adult man, according to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. As a woman, however, your needs vary. Usually, your minimum protein intake should be 46 grams daily. If you’re pregnant or nursing your baby, however, aim for at least 71 grams of protein each day.
Concerns With Ground Beef
Even though all types of ground beef have nearly the same amount of protein, you should always select the leanest ground beef. The fattier the ground beef, the more saturated fat and cholesterol it contains. Saturated fat and dietary cholesterol are known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. You shouldn’t have more than 10 percent of your total calories from saturated fat -- 22 grams for a 2,000-calorie diet -- and 300 milligrams of cholesterol daily, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. When cooked, a 3 1/2-ounce, 70-percent lean beef patty has almost 7.5 grams of saturated fat and more than 80 milligrams of cholesterol. You can have a similarly sized, 95-percent lean patty for less than 3 grams of saturated fat and approximately 75 milligrams of cholesterol, making it a heart-friendly option.
- Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Estimated Average Requirements
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Nutrient Lists
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Beef, Ground, 70% Lean Meat/30% Fat, Patty, Cooked, Broiled
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Beef, Ground, 95% Lean Meat/5% Fat, Patty, Cooked, Broiled
- USDA: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010