How Much Protein Does Meat Have?

Grilling meat
A bar-B-Q chef cooks many different kinds of meat, poultry and fish for this outing. (Image: OlafSpeier/iStock/Getty Images)

Meat is one of the riches sources of dietary protein. Since meat contains all of the essential amino acids your body requires daily to build proteins, it is also classified as a high-quality, complete protein. The amount of protein present in one portion of meat, about 3 ounces, varies by type and cut. Choose lean meats when possible because they are lower in unhealthy saturated fat than fatty meats are.

Beef, Pork and Lamb

The leanest cuts of red meat are round, loin or flank cuts -- or 95 percent lean ground beef, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. For example, 3 ounces of lamb loin contain 25 grams of protein, a 3-ounce portion of pork loin provides 24 grams, 3 ounces of bottom round beef steak contain almost 29 grams of protein and a 3-ounce portion of 95 percent lean ground beef contains about 25 grams of dietary protein.

Game Meats

Many types of game meat -- such as bison, rabbit, deer and elk -- are also excellent sources of dietary protein. In general, the leaner the game meat is, the higher its protein content. For example, a 3-ounce portion of elk round contains 26 grams of protein, 3 ounces of bison provide 24 grams, a 3-ounce portion of top round venison contains 27 grams and 3 ounces of rabbit provide about 25 grams of dietary protein.

Processed Meats

Processed meats not only are generally higher in sodium and often added sugar, they are lower in protein than fresh or frozen, nonprocessed meats. For example, 3 ounces of prepackaged, deli-sliced turkey breast contain 20 grams of protein, a 3-ounce portion of beef salami contains just 11 grams of protein and one hot dog provides about 10 grams of dietary protein. Replace processed meats with fresh or frozen nonprocessed meats when possible.

Poultry and Fish

Although poultry -- such as chicken, turkey and duck -- and fish are not classified as red meat, they do provide about the same amount of high-quality, complete protein as red meat. For example, a 3-ounce portion of grilled chicken breast contains about 26 grams of protein, 3 ounces of roasted turkey provide 25 grams and a 3-ounce portion of sockeye salmon contains about 22 grams of dietary protein.

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