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The Best Lean Meats & Fish for Weight Loss

Lean protein provided in a well-balanced diet is essential for shedding off weight, and these healthy meats for weight loss can do just that!

The Best Lean Meats & Fish for Weight Loss

As plant-based diets start becoming more of a focus, we must not forget the health benefits of meat, poultry, and fish varieties.

Lean varieties and cuts of meat, in particular, are exceptionally appreciated for weight loss, as they are packed with satiating, muscle-building protein while being relatively low in calories. 

While plant-based eating is certainly part of a healthy approach to overall nutrition and wellness, diets that skip protein from animal sources entirely miss out on essential amino acids that cannot be obtained from plants alone. 

Since the only weight loss plan that matters is a healthy weight loss plan, find out the best lean meats for weight loss and overall health.

8 Healthy Meats to Eat for Weight Loss

From chicken to tuna, add these lean meats and fish to a balanced meal plan. Each source not only supplies protein to meet weight loss goals, but can be enjoyed in various ways to satisfy any palate.

1. Chicken

Protein content: 19 grams (g) per 3 ounces

Given the leanness and versatility of its use, there is much reason why dieters look to chicken as one of the best meats for weight loss.

But while chicken may be touted as an ultimate weight loss food, pairing it with rice and broccoli may become monotonous. Offer variety in your diet by preparing these 11 different ways to cook and use chicken, including roasted, glazed, marinated, stuffed, and thrown into salads, soups, and stews.

Additionally, both white and dark meats are valuable in a well-balanced diet, as they each supply protein and rich nutrients such as vitamins A, K, B6, and B12, along with folate, iron, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc.

Ultimately, control calorie and fat content by ditching the oils and fryer, as well as peeling off the skin.

2. Grassfed Beef

Protein content: 17 g per 3 ounces

Despite its unhealthful reputation, there are numerous benefits of eating red meat, including the provision of protein and iron.

More specific to grassfed beef, it is leaner and lower in fat and calories compared to grainfed beef. Additionally, grassfed beef is richer in omega-3 fatty acids, a type of "good" fat considered to be heart-friendly and essential for brain function.

When choosing any sort of beef, though, opt for "lean", "extra lean", and any sort of "loin” to keep the fat content minimized.

3. Ground Turkey

Protein content: 18 g per 3 ounces

Ground turkey is a lean and healthy meat for weight loss and valued alternative to ground beef.

It is versatile in use, including in this easy jalapeño turkey burger or added to chilis, soups, and tacos.

But really, all turkey is considered lean and nutritious, though be wary of packaged lunchmeats, as they are often loaded with sodium and other undesirable preservatives.

4. Bison

Protein content: 21 g per 3 ounces

Also recognized as buffalo meat, bison is starting to frequent restaurant menus and hitting the grocery store shelves.

Bison is measured as an exceptionally lean meat; so lean that it cooks quickly and becomes tough if cooked too long or at too high of a temperature.

Buffalo is also traditionally raised on ranches and farms, making them a respected grassfed meat.

5. Venison

Protein content: 26 g per 3 ounces

Often coming from deer, venison is also recognized as a healthy meat for weight loss due to its leanness.

Venison may also have more vitamins and minerals than beef supplies, including iron, vitamin B6, niacin, and riboflavin.

6. Pork Tenderloin

Protein content: 26 g per 3 ounces

While pork was previously discouraged, the "the other white meat" can be highly nourishing.

Even beyond its protein content, pork is nutrient-dense with thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, phosphorus, zinc, and potassium.

However, it is important to beware and moderate the intake of cured variations of pork, including bacon and ham, as they contain nitrate and nitrite preservatives that have been linked to cancer.

7. Salmon

Protein content: 19 g per 3 ounces

When it comes to the best fish for weight loss, Nutrition experts overall suggest swapping out red meats with fish can reduce both caloric and saturated fat content.

In addition to supplying protein, salmon provides docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3s are critical for healthy brain and eye development, supporter of heart health, and shown to treat and manage rheumatoid arthritis, psychiatric disorders, and several other inflammatory health conditions.

8. Canned Tuna

Protein content: 20 g per 3 ounces

Like salmon, canned tuna is also rich in protein and healthy fat, along with being budget-friendly and versatile.

Eat tuna straight from the can, top onto sprouted crackers, prepare these easy tuna patties, or mix them into a healthified tuna salad.

As a pro tip, look for products preserved in water rather than oils and saltwater when purchasing canned or pouched tuna.

The Bottom Line on Lean Meats

Protein requirements vary on a variety of factors but one thing is clear: Protein is an essential nutrient in countless ways, including meeting weight loss and fitness goals.

Including these lean meats and fish sources into a balanced diet is a sure way to increase protein intake, especially if struggling to do hit protein targets.