Calling all my meat lovers out there to ask, are you aware what the healthier meat options are? And which meats have the most “bang for your buck” protein-wise?
First let’s start with basic CHICKEN. Which is better, chicken thighs or breasts?
I’ll give you a second to think, and the answer is below the photo. No peeking before you’ve guessed! 😉
The answer is: chicken breasts!
Half a pound of thighs is 322 calories, while half a pound of breasts is 210 calories. Now, you know I don’t recommend tracking calories THAT closely and policing yourself to that degree, but the main difference is whether those calories are from protein or fat. Don’t be afraid of consuming healthy fats, of course, but I think it’s always better to go for the protein-heavy meat over the fatty meat. Chicken thighs get more than half their calories from fat…while the half pound of chicken breasts get 192 of their calories from protein and only 18 from fat! Yay, healthier meat!
Now again, I want to emphasize that I realize healthy fats are very good for you, and so even meat that’s very high in saturated fat like chicken thighs isn’t something to fear. It wasn’t long ago that we thought saturated fat clogged your arteries, but actually, there is no connection between this type of fat and heart disease.
Instead, what causes heart problems is high levels of bad cholesterol, in addition to not enough good cholesterol. And what causes THAT? Refined carbs, and trans fats. So as long as you’re eating “real” food and not too much processed junk, then you should be OK!
Remember, the Mediterranean diet is actually quite high in saturated fat: nuts, veggies, fish, olive oil.
So now that we’ve got that out of the way, why am I still recommending the LEAN chicken breasts as a healthier meat, over the FATTY chicken thighs? Well, not only because lean meats tend to have higher protein density as mentioned above, but also because…
Animal fat overall isn’t as nutritional as it used to be, unfortunately. We’re feeding corn and soy to our cows and pigs, and we’re also not letting them roam freely.
These factors are making them sick and mean that they don’t have enough omega 3 acids…and have way too many omega 6 acids in comparison.
So when we eat fatty meats (that aren’t free-range and grass-fed), we’re getting too much omega 6, not enough omega 3. Why does that matter?
Well, because omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids COMPETE in our body to be converted and absorbed. If our diet is too high in omega 6, then we aren’t getting any of the health benefits of omega 3, which prevents heart disease and improves brain function. It’s not that omega 6 fatty acids are unhealthy…it’s that they “hog” up all the space!!
Research shows that our ancestors got a 1 to 1 ratio of omega 6 and omega 3…while for people today, it’s as high as 25:1!! Eek!
So on that note, what other “meat swaps” should you be making, in order to get more protein, but also ensure reduce your omega 6 to omega 3 ratio?
- Fillet is better than ribeye
- Minced turkey is better than minced beef
- Chicken sausage is better than pork sausage
And, of course, sometimes you can just eyeball it and tell how fatty meat is. Like, Canadian bacon is better for you than American bacon! 😉
If you’re interested in food but MORE interested in fitness, don’t worry! Not only do I have a ton of fitness tips, but I’m actually going to be mentoring 12 people through a program called Morning Meltdown 100.