What Is the Difference Between Ground Chuck & 80% Lean Ground Beef?

Pan frying ground beef
Ground beef in a bowl. (Image: vinicef/iStock/Getty Images)

Although ground chuck and 80 percent lean ground beef are similar in taste and composition, the two have notable differences. Ground chuck and 80 percent lean ground beef offer varying amounts of protein, fat and calories, so your personal nutritional needs may make one type of beef preferable for consumption. Consult a medical professional for dietary advice.

Calories

One of the most significant ways in which ground chuck and 80 percent lean ground beef differ is in the calorie content of the meat types. A 4-ounce serving of ground chuck has 380 calories, while a 4-ounce serving of 80 percent lean ground beef contains 278 calories. The 102-calorie difference may seem significant, but it is just 5 percent of the daily suggested intake of 2,000 calories. You can burn 102 calories in less than 30 minutes of weightlifting.

Fat

The difference in calories is largely due to the varying fat content in the two types of beef. Ground chuck provides 30 g of fat in each 4-ounce serving, while 80 percent lean ground beef has 18 g of fat in a 4-ounce serving. This difference can be significant, as the American Heart Association recommends limiting your daily fat intake to 50 to 70 g per day for optimal health. Some beef toppings are rich in fat, so consuming 80 percent lean ground beef to cut back on fat and then topping your burger with cheese -- just 1 oz. of cheddar has 9 g of fat -- can be counterproductive.

Protein

Ground chuck and 80 percent lean ground beef provide varying amounts of protein, but the difference is not significant. A 4-ounce serving of ground chuck has 26 g of protein, while a 4-ounce serving of 80 percent lean ground beef provides 27.2 g of protein. The Harvard School of Public Health suggests that increasing your protein intake may aid in managing your weight and decreasing your risk of heart disease, but 1 g is not likely to make a difference.

Carbohydrate

Neither ground chuck nor 80 percent lean ground beef contains carbohydrates, which makes them acceptable for low-carb diets. However, foods commonly eaten with ground beef, such as wheat buns and baked beans, are rich in carbohydrates, so factor those foods into your calculations.

Taste

Although individual taste preferences vary, ground chuck is likely to have a more rich, flavorful taste. This is because dietary fat provides flavor to foods. If you want to use 80 percent lean ground beef because of the lower calorie content but don't want to sacrifice flavor, add spices, seasonings or low-calorie toppings such as mustard or hot sauce.

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