How Much Meat Should I Eat Per Week


How Much Meat Should I Eat Per Week? For many of us, it’s easy to eat too much meat. Indeed, high-protein diets are popular right now, but you should still keep track of how much meat you’re eating. Especially if you want to lose weight — the recommended amount of meat for the average man is a few ounces per day. Any more than that and you’ll likely end up adding on the pounds.

Meat in your diet

Meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals in your diet. However, if you currently eat more than 90g (cooked weight) of red or processed meat a day, the Department of Health and Social Care advises that you cut down to 70g.

Some meats are high in saturated fat, which can raise blood cholesterol levels if you eat too much of it. Making healthier choices can help you eat meat as part of a balanced diet.

If you eat a lot of red or processed meat, it’s recommended that you cut down as there is likely to be a link between red and processed meat and bowel cancer.

A healthy balanced diet can include protein from meat, as well as from fish and eggs or non-animal sources such as beans and pulses. Meats such as chicken, pork, lamb and beef are all rich in protein.

Red meat provides us with iron, zinc and B vitamins. Meat is one of the main sources of vitamin B12 in the diet.

Food hygiene is important when storing, preparing and cooking meat.

Meat and saturated fat

Some meats are high in fat, especially saturated fat. Eating a lot of saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels in the blood, and having high cholesterol raises your risk of coronary heart disease.

The type of meat product you choose and how you cook it can make a big difference to the saturated fat content.

Make healthier choices when buying meat

When buying meat, go for the leanest option. As a rule, the more white you can see on meat, the more fat it contains. For example, back bacon contains less fat than streaky bacon.

These tips can help you buy healthier options:

  • ask your butcher for a lean cut
  • if you’re buying pre-packed meat, check the nutrition label to see how much fat it contains and compare products
  • go for turkey and chicken without the skin as these are lower in fat (or remove the skin before cooking)
  • try to limit processed meat products such as sausages, salami, pâté and beefburgers, because these are generally high in fat – they are often high in salt, too
  • try to limit meat products in pastry, such as pies and sausage rolls, because they are often high in fat and salt

Cut down on fat when cooking meat

Cut off any visible fat and skin before cooking – crackling and poultry skin are much higher in fat than the meat itself.

Here are some other ways to reduce fat when cooking meat:

  • grill meat, rather than frying
  • avoid adding extra fat or oil when cooking meat
  • roast meat on a metal rack above a roasting tin so the fat can run off
  • try using smaller quantities of meat and replacing some of the meat with vegetables, pulses and starchy foods in dishes such as stews, curries and casseroles

How much meat is too much?

So, if eating too much meat can set us up for health problems, should we all go vegetarian? Well, not necessarily. It comes back to one key word: moderation. There’s no problem with a modest intake of lean red meat. But what does ‘modest’ mean, you might be thinking?

Dietary guidelines recommend a maximum of 455g cooked (600–700g raw weight) lean red meat per week, in order to meet iron and zinc recommendations. That’s about one small portion (65g cooked/100g raw) if you’re eating it every night of the week, or one larger portion (130g cooked/200g raw) every second day.

The reality is, most of us eat already pretty close to these recommendations, eating an average of 57g cooked lean red meat (beef, lamb or pork) per day. There is, however, one group who regularly exceed the upper limit, especially when you add in processed meats (bacon, ham, salami). Yep, its men.

Meat consumption is highest among men aged 19–50 years and all teenagers between 14–18 years. Its perhaps no surprise that women and girls are already at the lower end of the recommended meat consumption range — which is not ideal, given their increased iron requirements.

How to get the balance right when it comes to eating meat

Meat doesn’t have to come off the menu for good. Instead, focus on variety, which includes different meat cuts, as well as veges and carb foods. Here are easy ways to get more diversity and balance at every meal

Plan meals ahead

Meal planning is an easy way to get more variety and more nutrients into your diet — plus it saves you precious time! Try to base your meals around different proteins. For example, include lean red meat two-to-three times a week, fish twice a week, make one or two legume-based dishes, and create egg or chicken dishes on other days.

Make veges the hero

Whether as a perfectly cooked roast, or tender, juicy steaks, meat has long been the main event on the dinner table — closely followed by carbs. It’s now time to make veges shine. Rather than thinking of vegetables and salad as a side dish, get creative with new ways to make them the star.

For example, roast a large tray of colourful root vegetables with garlic, rosemary and a drizzle of sticky balsamic glaze, or throw together a filling green salad with toasted nuts, crumbled feta and roasted pumpkin. When vegetables taste this delicious, they quickly become the main event — with meat just the sideshow!

Introduce ‘Meat-free Monday’

If your plan to cut back on meat runs into a bit of resistance — especially from the men in the house — start small by introducing one meat-free dinner per week. It’s a creative way to explore new foods you haven’t tried before, such as tofu, beans and lentils — and you’ll also be doing your health, not to mention the planet, a favour.

Search our recipes for hundreds of delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Cooking meat safely

Follow the cooking instructions on the packaging.

Some people wash meat before they cook it, but this actually increases your risk of food poisoning, because the water droplets splash onto surfaces and can contaminate them with bacteria.

It’s important to prepare and cook food safely. Cooking meat properly ensures that harmful bacteria on the meat are killed. If meat is not cooked all the way through, these bacteria may cause food poisoning.

Bacteria and viruses can be found all the way through poultry and certain meat products (such as burgers). This means you need to cook poultry and these sorts of meat products all the way through. When meat is cooked all the way through, its juices run clear and there is no pink or red meat left inside.

Meats and meat products that you should cook all the way through are:

  • poultry and game, such as chicken, turkey, duck and goose, including liver
  • pork
  • offal, including liver
  • burgers and sausages
  • kebabs
  • rolled joints of meat

You can eat whole cuts of beef or lamb when they are pink inside – or “rare” – as long as they are cooked on the outside.

These meats include:

  • steaks
  • cutlets
  • joints

Liver and liver products

Liver and liver products, such as liver pâté and liver sausage, are a good source of iron, as well as being a rich source of vitamin A.

You should be able to get all the vitamin A you need from your daily diet. Adults need:

  • 700 micrograms of vitamin A per day for men
  • 600 micrograms of vitamin A per day for women

However, because they are such a rich source of vitamin A, we should be careful not to eat too much liver and liver product foods.

Having too much vitamin A – more than 1.5mg (1,500 micrograms) of vitamin A per day from food and supplements – over many years may make your bones more likely to fracture when you are older.

People who eat liver or liver pâté once a week may be having more than an average of 1.5mg of vitamin A per day. If you eat liver or liver products every week, you may want to consider cutting back or not eating them as often. Also, avoid taking any supplements that contain vitamin A and fish liver oils, which are also high in vitamin A.

Women who have been through the menopause, and older men, should avoid having more than 1.5mg of vitamin A per week from food and supplements. This is because older people are at a higher risk of bone fracture. This means not eating liver and liver products more than once a week, or having smaller portions. It also means not taking any supplements containing vitamin A, including fish liver oil, if they do eat liver once a week.

Pregnant women should avoid liver and liver products and vitamin A supplements.

Eating meat when you’re pregnant

Meat can generally be part of a pregnant woman’s diet. However, pregnant women should avoid:

  • raw and undercooked meat because of the risk of toxoplasmosis – make sure any meat you eat is well cooked before eating
  • pâté of all types, including vegetable pâté – they can contain listeria, a type of bacteria that could harm your unborn baby
  • liver and liver products – these foods are very high in vitamin A, and too much vitamin A can harm the unborn child
  • game meats such as goose, partridge or pheasant – these may contain lead shot

Healthy Meat Serving Size Per Day

Healthy Meat Serving Size Per Day

More than 80 percent of the protein in the average American’s diet comes from meat, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Although meat, including poultry, red meat, fish and seafood, may taste good, eating too much of it can be unhealthy. Being aware of the recommendations for protein and meat consumption can benefit your health while still allowing you to satisfy your taste buds.

Protein Basics

Your body breaks down dietary protein into subunits called amino acids. Amino acids are essential for growth, DNA synthesis and various reactions in your body. Since humans can’t make all of the amino acids they need, it is necessary to eat protein on a daily basis. There are two types of protein in your food: complete and incomplete. Complete protein comes from animal sources and contains all of the essential amino acids you need, while incomplete protein comes from plant sources and is missing one or more of these amino acids. The Recommended Dietary Allowance of protein for men and women is 56 grams and 46 grams per day, respectively, and is not dependent on caloric intake. To meet these recommendations, you should consume approximately 5 to 6 ounces of protein foods — such as meat, nuts, eggs or beans — per day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Meat Protein

One ounce of meat is equivalent to 1 ounce of protein food. Based on a 2,000-calorie diet, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends you consume no more than approximately 4 ounces of total meat per day to help meet your protein recommendations. Remember, however, not all meat is created equal. For example, some cuts of red meat contain high amounts of unhealthy saturated fat, whereas fatty fish contain healthy fats. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends consuming no more than an average of 1.8 ounces of red meat, 1.5 ounces of poultry and 0.4 ounces of seafood per day, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. The rest of your protein foods should be from non-meat sources.

Non-Meat Protein

Non-meat protein foods, such as nuts, seeds, legumes and eggs, can be just as healthy, if not healthier, sources of protein as meat. In fact, consuming plant protein sources in place of red meat can help protect you from heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. When comparing protein content, one-fourth cup of legumes, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, 1 egg, or 1.5 ounces of nuts or seeds are each equivalent to 1 ounce of protein food. To help meet the protein recommendations of a 2,000-calorie diet, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends a daily consumption of 1 to 2 ounce-equivalents of nuts, seeds, legumes and eggs. Although the protein from plant foods is incomplete, eating a variety of plant foods will ensure you get all of the amino acids your body needs.

6 Subtle Signs You’re Eating Too Much Red Meat

loaded burger

Red meat is a staple in the diets of many Americans. What is more American than a classic cheeseburger or a hot dog on a warm summer day? But, as is true with most other things, too much of a good thing can be bad for you. While it’s true that red meat is a source of high-quality protein and fuels your body with important nutrients like iron, zinc, and vitamin B12, eating too much of it has been linked to negative outcomes like increased risk of cancer and heart disease.

The World Cancer Research Fund and The American Institute for Cancer Research recommend limiting consumption of red meat to no more than three portions per week, or 12–18 ounces in total. Yet, according to the USDA, the average American consumed 222.4 pounds of red meat in 2018; that’s the equivalent of almost 10 meatballs A DAY (or roughly 10 ounces a day). A quarter of adults in this country are still eating more unprocessed red meat than the recommended level according to data published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2019.

What If You Only Ate Red Meat?

Basically, we should limit our consumption of red meat, but there is no need to eliminate it entirely from our diet. Red meat can be combined with other nutrient-dense foods like vegetables and whole grains to create a well-balanced meal (get a list of important nutrients your quarantine diet may be missing). One simple way to reduce your red meat intake while still enjoying your favorite dishes is to blend equal portions of chopped mushrooms and ground beef in foods like burgers and meat sauces.

The best way to know whether you are eating too much red meat is to pay attention to your serving sizes and frequency of consumption. One serving of meat is equivalent to 3–4 ounces: this is approximately the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand. Here are 6 signs that may indicate that you should pump the breaks on your red meat consumption. And to get more food news straight to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter.


You are noticing weight gain

gaining weight

We love to celebrate with beef, but when we too often consume oversized steaks and double-meat cheeseburgers, we pack in the calories. Choosing sensible servings of 3–4 ounces of beef and leaner cuts like sirloin, flank steak, strip loin, and 90-percent lean or leaner ground beef can help with your weight goals without cutting meat altogether. Here are some great weight loss tips by a nutritionist who lost 100 pounds.


You have offensive breath

bad breath

If you find yourself needing to pop a piece of gum to combat stinky breath more often than usual, you may be eating too much meat. When you digest meat, your body produces ammonia as a byproduct. The smell of ammonia can sneak up into your mouth and cause a foul-smelling odor. Here are some other foods that give you bad breath.


Your cholesterol is creeping up

high cholesterol

Consuming too much saturated fat can raise blood cholesterol, so if you are eating large amounts of fattier cuts of red meat, your cardiologist may not be too happy with your levels. Choose lean cuts of beef to combat your high cholesterol. The good news is that there are lots of options to choose from. Research now suggests that up to 6 ounces of lean beef as part of a balanced diet won’t negatively affect cholesterol levels, and these findings are reflected in the American Heart Association’s recommendations. Get our simple 15-minute trick for lowering your cholesterol.


You are experiencing constipation

Door handle open to toilet can see toilet

If you are eating too much meat and not getting enough fiber from produce, whole grains, and beans, you may experience constipation. While beef is one of the most digestible proteins, eating too much likely means that you are not eating a balanced diet. Keeping your meat intake in check while making sure to eat fiber- rich foods and staying hydrated can help keep things moving in the right direction. Here are some easy ways to add fiber to your diet.


You are having fertility struggles

doctor form

If you are having trouble conceiving, it is possible that too much red meat is playing a role. Choosing protein options that are plant-based or rich in omega-3 fatty acids (like fish) and limiting red and processed meats result in improved fertility in women according to a study published in Fertility and Sterility. For men, data suggests that processed red meat is associated with a lower sperm count. Melissa Groves Azarro, registered dietitian and author of A Balanced Approach to PCOS recommends that her clients limit the consumption of red meat to 1–2 times a week while emphasizing fatty fish like salmon and beneficial plant proteins such as lentils and chickpeas. Trying to get pregnant? Avoid these 10 terrible foods for fertility.


You are experiencing bad body odor

body odor

If you notice that people turn their noses away from you or make comments on your funky smell, you may be giving off some bad body odor. While skipping showers is an obvious culprit to B.O., your protein choices may play a role as well. In one small study, men who avoided red meat for 2 weeks had an odor that was more attractive and more pleasant when compared with the red meat eater’s natural scent, according to data published in Chemical Senses.

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