Is Steak healthy for weight loss? Well to be honest, you can eat whatever you want and still lose weight as long as you stick with a plan designed for your goal. Steak is a type of red meat that you can eat to maintain your health. This page will tell you exactly how it benefits and doesn’t benefit your weight loss goals.
Steak Nutrition Facts
The fat and protein content of steak will vary depending on the cut of meat and how it’s prepared. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 3 ounces (85g) of grilled beef tenderloin, with the fat trimmed.
- Calories: 179
- Fat: 7.6g
- Sodium: 60mg
- Carbohydrates: 0g
- Fiber: 0g
- Sugars: 0g
- Protein: 26g
Nutrients in Steak that Promote Health
Steak is objectively nutritious when considering its macro and micronutrient profile. Most people think of the health benefits of steak as exclusively having to do with protein. It is true that steak provides all the essential amino acids that humans need to get from food–making it a “complete” protein. Your body uses this protein to grow and maintain muscle, body tissue
Beyond protein, steak provides various other beneficial micronutrients and compounds, many of which are found only in meat.
The nutrients in steak contribute to and support numerous health benefits, including:
- Supports fertility in men and women
- Energy production
- Weight loss
- Antioxidant effects
- Gene expression
- Better mood
- Cognitive and neurological health
- Stimulated stem cell production
- Supports immune function
Let’s take a look at some key nutrients in steak and how they can support your health.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
Steak, especially pasture-raised, provides high levels of a beneficial type of fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
This is one of those nutrients you can only get from food–your body can’t synthesize it on its own.
The health benefits of CLA include
- Reduced body fat, increased lean muscle mass
- Reduces risk of atherosclerosis
- Immune support
- Prevents and treats diabetes
- Promotes bone formation and mineral density
- One of the most abundant saturated fatty acids in steak
- Improves body fat ratio
- Supports mitochondrial function
- Promotes weight loss
- Has been shown to slightly lower or have a neutral effect on LDL (bad) cholesterol
- No evidence of raising your risk of heart disease
- Regulates more than 500+ genes
- Essential for stem cell differentiation.
- The ‘preformed’ vitamin A found in steak and especially beef liver is far more bioavailability than beta carotene in plants
- B vitamins in steak are critical to helping your body convert food into energy
- Promotes formation of red blood cells that carry oxygen to the brain
- Boost cognition and stabilizes mood
- Found almost exclusively in steak and other animal products
- Up to 86% of vegan children, 90% of vegan elderly, and 62% of pregnant vegan women are B12 deficient [42
- B12 deficiency can result in dementia and is associated with Alzheimer’s disease
- A powerful antidepressant
- Helps regulate calcium in our bones and brains
- Stimulates stem cell production in bone marrow
- helps prevent heart disease
- K2 deficits have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease
- Only found in steak and red meat
- Far more bioavailable than iron from plant foods
- Essential to the formation of red blood cells
- Promotes energy metabolism
- Supports immune function
- Vital to cognitive ability
- Without sufficient iron you will get anemia
- Critical for creating energy
- Maintains blood vessels integrity
- Key to the formation of connective tissue
- A critical factor in immune function, nervous system health, gene activation, brain development, hormone metabolism, and fertility
- Low levels of zinc are associated with erectile dysfunction and lower sperm count in males
- Zinc in steak is 400% more bioavailable than zinc found in breakfast cereals
- Studies show that vegans and vegetarians have low zinc levels and lower levels when compared to meat-eaters. This is due to phytic acid in plant foods that block absorption.
- Zinc deficiency affects motor development and cognitive development in children
- Protects against coronary artery disease
- Essential in insulin formation
- Increases glycemic control for diabetics
- A promising anti-aging compound
- Found exclusively in steak and other meat
- Concentrated in areas of the body with high energy demands, including the heart, brain, and muscles, where it protects these parts from wear and tear
- Prevents glycation–the damaging process of glucose molecules attaching to cells and DNA
- A potent antioxidant that protects against damage and shortening of telomeres
- Found almost exclusively in meat
- Plays a vital role in improving male fertility
- Reduces anemia, especially when co-occurring with kidney dysfunction.
- May play a major role in mitochondrial function and insulin sensitivity for people with type 2 diabetes
- In heart attack patients, carnitine can prevent ischemia in cardiac muscle
- When vegetarians add creatine supplements to their diets they show improved cognitive function
- improves athletic performance in both vegetarians and omnivores
- Alzheimer’s patients show lower creatine levels
- Improves cardiovascular performance in patients with heart failure
- For people with type 2 diabetes, supplementing with creatine combined with exercise improves glycemic control
- A powerful antioxidant.
- Reduces glycation
- Reduces inflammation and oxidative stress.
- Antidepressant effects, accounting for the general well-being that many people feel after eating steak
- A coenzyme that supports energy generation in cells by making adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
- Powerful antioxidant properties linking it with the prevention of cancer
- A powerful anti-fatigue factor
- Increases sperm motility
Eating enough protein is essential, and steak is an excellent source. Research shows that unprocessed meats, like steak, are superior choices when compared to processed meat.
Reduces Muscle Wasting
Sarcopenia is the natural loss of muscle with age. Loss of muscle leads to a higher risk of injury and reduced independence for seniors. Studies have shown that animal protein intake is associated with higher retention of muscle mass, even in older adults who do not exercise.5 Keeping steak on the menu for older adults may help preserve muscle mass and functioning.
Beef offers protein and zinc, two essential nutrients for the immune system.6 Along with washing your hands and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, a moderate portion of steak can provide nutritional support for fending off colds and viruses.
Lowers Risk of Anemia
Steak provides iron and vitamin B12 which are crucial for the prevention of anemia.7 Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, paleness, headaches, and cold hands and feet. Consuming iron-rich foods, like steak, can help prevent anemia for most people.
Provides a Heart Healthier Option
Despite assumptions from the past, it appears that red meat alone is not the cause of heart disease. Studies show that processed meats pose a greater threat to heart health than freshly prepared meats, like steak.
Although you shouldn’t necessarily increase your intake of red meat, choosing steak instead of lunch meats, for instance, is a beneficial change with less sodium and preservatives. Balancing your intake of steak with heart-healthy fruits and vegetables will also reduce your risks.
May Prevent Diabetes
Similarly, processed meats appear to cause a greater risk of type 2 diabetes than unprocessed meats, like steak.8 While a meal plan based on seafood, nuts, beans, fruits, and vegetables is preferable to eating lots of red meat, choosing steak instead of cured bacon or processed chicken nuggets appears to be a positive step for disease prevention.
Meat allergies are uncommon, but a strange reaction after tick bites has been shown to produce IgE-mediated reactions to red meat. Severe hypersensitivity symptoms, including anaphylaxis, sometimes appear as a delayed meat allergy. If you notice allergy symptoms from eating steak, contact your doctor for a full evaluation.
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.
Storage and Food Safety
Always wash your hands before and after handling raw meat. Keep raw steaks apart from other foods in the refrigerator to avoid spreading dangerous bacteria. Use separate utensils and cutting boards for raw meat and wash them well in hot, soapy water after use.
Cooking beef to the proper temperature kills bacteria that can be especially harmful for pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems. Beef steaks must be cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit and let to rest for 3 minutes before eating or carving (ground beef should be cooked to 160 degrees)
How to Prepare
Trim visible fat off of steak before prepping it. You can also ask your butcher to trim the fat or buy steaks that already have the extra fat removed. Choose a lean cooking method such as broiling, grilling, or roasting for a healthier meal. Keep portion control in mind—a single serving of steak is just 3 ounces. Prepare steak as part of a stir-fry dish with vegetables and teriyaki sauce, or fajitas with spices and lots of vegetables to create balanced meals.
Preparing cuts of beef
Even the leanest cuts of beef can become diet-busters if you prepare them in unhealthy ways. Here are a few simple methods to control the fat:
- Trim it. Cut off any visible, solid fat from meat before preparing, and then remove any remaining visible fat before eating.
- Drain it. After cooking ground meat, put it into a strainer or colander and drain the fat. Then rinse the meat with hot water. Blot the meat with a paper towel to remove the water.
- Chill it. After cooking, chill beef juices so that you can skim off and discard the hardened fat. Then add the juice to stews, soups and gravy.