The best cut of meatSep 10, 2022
What is the best cut of meat when we consider 1) convenience 2) taste 3) cost and 4) nutrition?
Well, I will make a pitch for ground beef.
Yep, ground beef. Ground beef is a health food! And is just one example of how health does not need to be complicated.
Before we cover why I think ground beef is a great cut - what is it?
Ground beef is made from some muscle cuts, meat scraps, and trimmings- all of which is actually a substantial amount of meat! In fact, when you buy a full cow, about 50% of the product you get back is ground beef!
Ground beef truly allows us to make use of the whole animal.
Okay let's dive in and cover 9 reasons why I love ground beef:
1) It is rich in micronutrients
Yep, move over broccoli. Ground beef has you beat.
In just 4 oz, you get the following, in % of Recommended Daily Intake (RDA)
- Vitamin B12 - 100%
- Zinc - 50%
- Vitamin B3 - 36%
- Selenium - 35%
- Vitamin B6 - 25%
Plus, you will meet your iron requirements, as well. (There is some debate on iron overload, which we believe is a real issue. But by eating red meat, you can easily reach your dietary iron requirements and don't need iron fortification in cereals and grains).
All beef (like chuck steak, tenderloins, ribeyes, etc.) will be micronutrient-rich (especially the organs!). But many people don't realize this applies to ground beef, too!
2) It is a high-quality, complete protein source
Meaning, it contains all amino acids in a very bioavailable form. This is especially important when wanting to build muscle!
Beef is considered a 'High Quality' protein source under the new protein scoring system (whereas soybeans are 'Medium Quality' and tofu and almonds are of 'Low Quality'. More info on this information on an Instagram post we made this spring, here).
3) Contains a relatively more balanced amino acid profile
I believe ground beef has a more beneficial amino acid balance relative to, for example, chicken breasts. Since ground beef contains trimmings from all around the animal, it will contain a decent amount of connective tissue and all the beneficial amino acids found in gelatin.
While ground beef contains all amino acids, it has less of the 'anti metabolic' amino acids that can suppress thyroid if consumed in excess (cysteine, tryptophan, and methionine) and more of the 'anti stress' amino acids found in gelatin (glycine, proline, alanine, hydroxyproline).
“The amino acids cysteine and tryptophan, released in large quantities during stress, have antimetabolic (thyroid-suppressing) and, eventually, toxic effects.” – Dr. Ray Peat
Note: we are not saying any of these amino acids are bad, they are all necessary. It's just important to consume them in a balanced way.
“A generous supply of glycine/gelatin, against a balanced background of amino acids, has a great variety of antistress actions.” – Dr. Ray Peat
This was done naturally when ancestors consumed nose to tail!
“Gelatin (the cooked form of collagen) makes up about 50% of the protein in an animal, but a much smaller percentage in the more active tissues” – Dr. Ray Peat
These differences aren't huge, but I think over time they can add up! You can read more about the benefits of gelatin from Dr. Ray Peat's article.
4) Healthy fats!
Now again, we don't need to overdo our fat consumption (which I discussed in depth here in a blog post), but the fat we do consume should be nutrient-rich and relatively low in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).
If we are using ground beef from a 100% grass-fed cow (which are naturally leaner than grain fed), then we can assume the ground beef is about 90% meat and 10% fat.
Meaning, a 4 oz serving (measured raw, then cooked) will provide about 11 g fat and 23 g protein.
That 11 g of fat has a great fatty acid profile:
According to nutritiondata.self.com,
- 44% MUFA
- 41% SFA
- 3% PUFA
This is certainly not the case for fatty cuts of corn & soy fed chicken/pork (which will have significantly higher PUFAs levels).
Just be very mindful if using a lot of 70/30 or 80/20 ground beef - the fat can quickly add up! Again, it's not about being low/zero fat, it's about being mindful of our fat intake (which I think is the reason many people gain weight so quickly when switching to pro-metabolic, discussed on this blog post here).
5) No anti nutrients, so it is very easy to digest and is readily assimilated.
There is a reason why the ultimate elimination diet is beef only! Meat is one of the most easily digested foods, with the least amount of antinutrients (unlike many plant proteins). It's almost like... we were meant to eat it?
6) Contains some healthy cholesterol to build our hormones
About 4 oz will provide us with ~75 mg of cholesterol, which is essential for our body to function since it acts as the building block for the production of hormones, Vit D and bile salts. And no, dietary cholesterol does not increase the risk of heart disease in healthy individuals (ref). This is a myth that needs to stay in the 1970s.
“Cholesterol, either that produced internally by the cell, or taken in from the blood stream, is the precursor for all the steroids in the body. Several of the major steroid hormones are antiinflammatory, and cholesterol itself is antiinflammatory... Cholesterol also protects against radiation damage, and many forms of toxins... many more recent studies show that it protects blood cells against hemolysis--breakdown of red blood cells--caused by heat and other harmful agents... Cholesterol, vitamin E, progesterone, and vitamin D are considered to be "structural antioxidants," that prevent oxidation partly by stabilizing molecular structures. One of the basic functions of cholesterol seems to be the stabilization of mitochondria, preventing their destruction by stress.” - Dr. Ray Peat
7) Convenient and easy to cook
If you have been following us for awhile, you will know that our absolute favorite cuts of meat are on the bone. But sometimes that takes a little extra coordination, and significantly longer cooking times. And sometimes you do need to make a meal quickly.
Ground beef is very convenient and allows you to cook up nutrient-rich meals in a jiff! Ground beef is also very easy to meal prep, whether that is a ground hash or burgers (where you may or may not sneak in a little more of a nutrient punch with some organ meat)
8) Cost effective
Ground beef, in general, is one of the most cost effective cuts! For 100% grass-fed, ribeyes are close to $30 per lb, tenderloin filets close to $40 per lb, whereas ground is typically $8-10 per lb.
Who needs boogie cuts when you can use ground, organs and offals?
Last, but not least, ground beef tastes pretty dang good!
Be honest, what tastes better - a chicken breast or ground beef? Tofu or ground beef? Black bean burger or ground beef?
We should all honestly listen to our tastebuds more often. You don't need to suffer to be healthy! Part of a non-restrictive, healthy diet is enjoying our food.
Before wrapping up - the above information largely applies to all ground ruminant meat. Meaning, ground beef, ground lamb, ground goat, ground elk, ground bison. All are convenient, delicious and micronutrient-rich.
Aren't ruminant animals incredible? Turning grasses and weeds inedible to humans into some of the most nutrient-rich, bioavailable food on the planet. Talk about food security!
Where to get ground beef?
If you can, find and support your local farmer whenever you can! And you can use these website to help find him or her:
If you don't have access to a local farm near you, the following two companies ship 100% grass-fed ruminant meat raised regeneratively directly to your door. Apsey Farms ships all across the Midwest, while White Oak Pastures ships all across the country.
Apsey Farms - STRONG10 for 10% off your first order
White Oak Pastures - STRONGSISTAS for 10% off your first order
100% grass-fed cows will typically be a lot leaner, so the ground mix will be closer to 90% lean.
If you are looking for some extra support on nutrition, check out our course!