The Power of Protein

Not all proteins are created equal

Lean beef gives you 10 essential nutrients needed for a healthy, active lifestyle without sacrificing taste. A typical 3-ounce serving of lean beef is only 180 calories and is an excellent source of five nutrients and a good source of five nutrients. There are 29 cuts of beef that meet government guidelines for lean including some of Americans’ favorites like tenderloin, T-bone, and flank steak.

A high quality protein like lean beef gives you all the essential protein building blocks in a complete package. Incomplete proteins like beans, nuts and grains aren’t able to provide all the building blocks (essential amino acids) you need.  Most plant foods do not have the complete package of amino acids you need to stimulate muscle growth and maintain good health. 

Choosing lean beef as a high-quality source of protein saves you calories.

  • You can get your protein from lean beef for half the calories than you would from beans, nuts or grains.
  • 1½ cups of beans has two times more calories than a 3-ounce serving of lean beef.
  • You would need to eat seven tablespoons of peanut butter, that’s 680 calories, to match the same amount of protein from a 3-ounce serving of lean beef, which is about 180 calories.

The most important dietary advice people can follow are the 2005 Dietary Guidelines and MyPyramid, which recommend a nutrient-rich, balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low- and nonfat dairy, and lean meat.

  • A balanced diet includes high quality protein like lean beef, eggs and dairy, in addition to fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • The Dietary Guidelines recommend including lean beef as part of a healthy diet.
  • The Dietary Guidelines and MyPyramid recommend adults eat 5½ ounces of lean protein each day as a part of a healthy diet. Most Americans are eating less than 2 ½ ounces of red meat each day.
  • As an excellent source of protein, a 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides more than half the Daily Value recommended by the Dietary Guidelines in less than 180 calories.

There’s a reason U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend eating lean meat: That high-quality protein is hard to find anywhere else. And not getting enough protein can have serious consequences.

  • It is difficult to get enough high-quality protein and other essential nutrients if you eliminate meat from the diet.
  • Unlike beans, nuts and some soy products, lean meat is a source of high-quality protein and is the food supply’s most readily available and easily absorbed source of iron and zinc.
        • Zinc is essential for healthy immune function and physical and mental development.
    Beef also is an excellent source of vitamin B12, an essential nutrient that is not readily available in plant foods.     
  • B vitamins help convert foods that you eat into energy to fuel activity, and Vitamin B12 specifically promotes growth and helps maintain health.

Research shows high-quality protein, such as lean beef, plays an increasingly important role in maintaining muscle, fueling activity, managing your weight and even disease prevention.

  • A protein-rich diet that includes lean beef can help in maintaining muscle mass which contributes to burning fat. Several studies show that protein is more satisfying than carbohydrates. When coupled with exercise, protein can help people build muscle strength while they lose or maintain weight.  
  • When you're trying to lose weight and maintain muscle, it makes sense to include foods like lean beef, eggs and dairy.
  • Studies also show that an increase in protein intake helps reduce cardiovascular disease risk and Type 2 diabetes, improves muscle strength, and contributes to weight management.
  • By including high quality protein at every meal, you can conserve calories and still get great health benefits. 

High quality protein is important at many stages of life. People like athletes, older adults, pregnant women and teenagers need to get the right mix of nutrients for a set number of calories.

  • Including high quality protein sources such as lean meat, poultry and dairy can help you maintain good health over a lifetime.
  • Parents, lean protein is an essential part of nutrition for your kids. The high-quality protein and micronutrients found in beef, eggs and cheese is crucial to their development.

Baby boomers need to protect their muscle mass as they age.

  • Research shows that animal protein specifically is associated with maintenance of muscle in older persons.
  • Research indicates that protein-rich foods may have blood pressure benefits.
  • An American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study showed that substituting carbohydrate-rich foods with protein-rich foods (in this case, lean red meat) may lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.
  • Additional research found that overweight and obese adults can lose weight and improve cholesterol levels by following moderate carbohydrate/moderate protein diets.
  • When eaten as part of a diet low in saturated fat, lean, trimmed beef does not increase cardiovascular risk factors.
  • There is very strong evidence that beef lowers the bad cholesterol (LDL) by seven to 12 percent and it does so as effectively as lean white meat.
  • Research has found that people who consumed 25-30 percent of their calories from protein reduced their risk factors for cardiovascular disease. (Nutrition & Metabolism, 2008)
  • Research indicates that moderately overweight women who consumed lean beef or chicken as part of a nutritionally balanced, calorie-reduced diet, in conjunction with a fitness walking program, successfully lost weight, lowered total cholesterol, lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol, maintained HDL (good) cholesterol, and reduced body fat.
  • Protein intake higher than the RDA may help adults prevent or manage cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. (AJCN, 2008)