Is steak considered a super food for weight loss? Not really — but a few studies show that it won't hurt your weight loss efforts either, as long as you consume lean cuts in reasonable portion sizes.
Steak isn't exactly a super food for losing weight, and it even presents some potential health problems. But when consumed in moderation, it can be part of a healthful weight loss diet.
The Disadvantages of Eating Beef
Steak — and red meat in general — gets a bad rap because it does contain cholesterol and saturated fat, both of which you should limit to achieve a healthy diet. A few studies have also shown red meat intake to be associated with elevated risk of certain cancers; for example, a mid-January 2018 issue of the International Journal of Cancer notes red meat's association with an elevated risk of colorectal cancer, along with elevated incidences of breast cancer and the general category of "overall cancers."
Does that mean you should avoid red meat entirely? Not necessarily, unless your doctor tells you to — and, as the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases notes, steak also contains healthful nutrients such as iron, protein and zinc. But instead of unthinkingly eating red meat, make sure every bite of that red meat counts for something beneficial in your diet.
Two good ways of doing that are choosing leaner cuts of meat, such as beef round steak, flank steak and extra-lean ground beef, and following the NIDDKD's recommendation to eat meat and poultry in portion sizes of 3 ounces or less — about the size of a deck of cards.
If you want beef to be part of a weight-loss diet, you must also establish a calorie deficit; this means increasing your physical activity, decreasing your calorie intake or both, so that you burn more calories than you take in.
Read more: 10 Steak Recipes That Any Carnivore Will Love
Steak vs. Other Meats
Is steak better or worse than other meats when it comes to weight loss? Excluding food allergies, the limited evidence available indicates that there's nothing about some wisely chosen steak or other cuts of beef that would hamper your weight-loss efforts.
That information comes mainly from a nine-month trial, with results published in the February 2014 issue of Nutrients. Researchers recruited 49 adults with obesity or overweight and assigned them to rotating three-month periods of consuming either lean pork, beef or chicken as part of a diet with consistent calorie and nutrient levels. At the end of the trial, the researchers concluded that the choice of meat made no difference in the participants' body composition.
Read more: How to Cook a Tender Steak on the Stove
High Protein for Weight Loss
If you're interested in eating a high-protein diet to lose weight, steak could be an important — and tasty — component of your weight-loss lunches, dinners and other meals. However, don't fall into the trap of thinking that you should only eat meat.
As Healthy South Dakota points out, a high-protein diet can mean boosting your protein intake from a typical 10 to 15 percent of daily calories to as much as 30 to 50 percent of your daily calories. No matter how many lean cuts of steak you're eating, that still leaves room for lots of other foods that are low in fat and moderate in carbohydrate content — which is the agency's take on the most nutritious way to eat a high-protein diet.
And, in general, high-protein diets have repeatedly been shown to be effective for weight loss, with one recent example being a study published in a 2017 issue of Obesity Facts. There, researchers noted that a high-protein diet was as good as, and perhaps in some ways better than, a standard protein diet for weight loss. Arguably, the best weight loss diet is one that you can make into a long-term lifestyle choice, so you never need to worry about gaining the weight back if your habits change.
And if that involves steak? As long as you make smart choices about portion size and cuts of meat, you can make it work.
- International Journal of Cancer: "Red and Processed Meat Intake and Cancer Risk"
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Weight-Loss and Nutrition Myths"
- Nutrients: "A Comparison of Regular Consumption of Fresh Lean Pork, Beef and Chicken on Body Composition"
- Healthy South Dakota: "What to Consider With a High Protein Diet"
- Obesity Facts: "Effect of a High-Protein Diet versus Standard-Protein Diet on Weight Loss and Biomarkers of Metabolic Syndrome"