British Red Tractor Assurance is available on selected products.

Our high welfare British Veal is RSPCA Assured.

What is lean meat?

Lean hache Steaks

Lean meat’ is a term which is ubiquitous in dietary advice. Everyone knows that it’s important we somehow get it in our diets, but there’s still some confusion as to what lean meat means. Has the term always existed? And exactly where does lean meat come from?

The answer originates in the latter half of the last century, when conventional dietary wisdom dictated that those wishing to be less fat should eat less fat. Health-conscious carnivores across the western world therefore switched suddenly to leaner cuts. Fatty connective tissue and skin was dispensed with in favour of skinless poultry breasts, trimmed pork chops and marble-less cuts of steak. Butcher’s dogs glutted themselves on unwanted strips of fatty beef.

While animal fat is no longer the health bogeyman it once was (that mantle has now been assumed by sugar), a balanced diet should still comprise a sizeable quantity of lean meat. But which ones are best?

It’s all about protein

If you’re at all concerned about fitness – even if you aren’t a bodybuilder – you’ll probably shop for lean meat containing the most protein. Proteins are life’s building blocks, and justly hyped as one of the most important components in any diet.

For every 100g of lean chicken breast you eat, around 27 of those grams will be protein. For beef, the figure is roughly equivalent – though you’ll get some variation according to the cut. Fillet steaks contain slightly less protein, while rump steaks contain slightly more. These variations correlate more or less perfectly with the amount of fat in the cut.

If you’d like to reduce the fat content still further, then you might trim the visible fat from a cut of red meat before eating it. Though many advise that this be done after cooking, the difference is unlikely to be significant. If you’re frying or grilling your lean meat, then much of the fat and salt will remain in the pan afterwards, anyway.

Why lean meat on paleo?

The paleo diet has sprung from the notion that our diets were much better before agriculture, and that we should shun modern foodstuffs in favour of those which were available several thousand years ago. There is some wisdom in this recommendation; our digestive systems have evolved over millennia to deal with a diet which advances in agriculture have expunged from the food chain. We can reasonably assume it’s therefore better equipped to deal with a pre-agricultural diet.

Suffice to say, lean meats are more than okay if you’re on paleo: they’re essential. If dairy is removed from your plate (as it often is in paleo diets), meat becomes an essential source of protein – and of a number of key vitamins and minerals, too.

It’s also all about vitamins and minerals

Leaving protein to one side, lean meats contain a hefty dose of helpful vitamins and minerals. Iron helps to keep the bloodstream in good working order, magnesium helps to maintain bones, and zinc helps fortify the immune system. Red meats are rich in iron, zinc and vitamin B12, while poultry can provide selenium, an immune-boosting antioxidant, along with choline and vitamins B3 and B6.

In order to achieve a balanced diet, it’s best to eat a variety of different meats, and complement them with the occasional portion of fatty fish – or, indeed, fatty meat.

You can take a look at our full range of lean and tasty meats, over here: