Weighing Calories in Meat

Meat consumption has been steadily increasing the past few years. In fact, the USDA Food Availability Data shows an upward trend in per capita availability of meat the past ten years. This is perhaps due to popular diets encouraging people to shun carbohydrates in favor of protein. While there are plant-based sources of protein, the most popular source remains to be meat from animals. But just how healthy are these?

Let’s go over some of the most consumed types of meat to see if they’re beneficial to our health. Find out as well how you can cook meat if you are cutting down on calories.

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Types of Poultry

Commonly referred to as white meat, poultry is the most consumed meat in the US today. With consumers shifting to a healthier diet, poultry has toppled beef in popularity due to its lower fat content. However, not all types of poultry are low in fat. Let’s look at five of the most consumed poultry meats.


Each American eats approximately 50 kilograms of chicken every year. Aside from being very affordable, chicken is also protein-dense and low-fat. Compared to other types of meat, it has the same protein content but much lower fat content. Chicken is a decent source of vitamins and minerals including potassium, phosphorus, and B vitamins. Moreover, collagen and gelatin can easily be extracted from the bones.

Nutritional Values per 100g:

  • Calories – 109.8 kcal
  • Protein – 20g
  • Fat – 3g
  • Cholesterol – 58mg


The star of the Thanksgiving table, turkey ranks second in poultry popularity. It has a deeper yet drier taste than chicken, making it a little less versatile ingredient. Still, it remains popular all throughout the year, especially as a sandwich filling. Turkey is among the most protein-dense of all types of meat. It contains substantial amounts of B vitamins, potassium, selenium, and phosphorus.

Nutritional Values per 100g:

  • Calories – 98.6 kcal
  • Protein – 16g
  • Fat – 6g


Duck meat is mostly popular in Asian cuisines. It has a stronger flavor than chicken and turkey and is closer in taste and texture to red meat. It is high in selenium, zinc, phosphorus, and B vitamins that help optimize energy production and enhance the immune system. While it’s rich in nutrients and has plenty of health benefits, duck has very high fat content and should be consumed in moderation.

Nutritional Values per 100g:

  • Calories – 286.6 kcal
  • Protein – 16g
  • Fat – 23g


Quail are more popular for their tiny speckled eggs than their meat. Like other poultry, quail are rich in protein and are good sources of zinc and B-vitamins. They have tender and flavorful flesh that has a more defined taste than chicken.

Nutritional Values per 100g:

  • Calories – 116.7 kcal
  • Protein – 24g
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Types of Red Meat

Meat from mammals is normally red when raw due to the protein myoglobin. Hence, the term red meat. Even with the controversy surrounding its effect on health, red meat is undoubtedly loaded with nutrients. It is a great source of protein, iron, zinc, and selenium.


Before chicken ousted it from the top, beef was the most popular meat consumed in most countries worldwide. It contains significant amounts of iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. It also contains creatinine, linoleic acid, and glutathione, which have potentially beneficial effects on health.

Nutritional Values per 100g:

  • Calories – 256.7 kcal
  • Protein – 12g
  • Fat – 23g


Due to its pale color, pork was considered white meat decades ago. However, the presence of large amounts of myoglobin definitely makes it red meat. Among all types of meat, pork has the highest vitamin B12 (thiamine) content. It also contains an ample amount of selenium and zinc, making it beneficial in boosting the immune system, fighting oxidative stress, and optimizing hormone production.

Nutritional Values per 100g:

  • Calories – 262.4 kcal
  • Protein – 17g
  • Fat – 22g
  • Cholesterol – 72 mg

Lamb and Mutton

Lamb and mutton are both meat from sheep. Lamb is from sheep less than one year old, which makes the meat tender. On the other hand, mutton from adult sheep tends to be tough and higher in fat. Lamb is considered the more nutritious red meat option since sheep graze all day, resulting in lower fat content. It also contains essential nutrients such as zinc, selenium, and B vitamins. However, lamb and mutton can be quite expensive.

Nutritional Values per 100g:

  • Calories – 526.6 kcal
  • Protein – 7g
  • Fat – 30g

Which Is the Healthiest Meat?

There’s no single meat type that is healthier than all the rest. The health benefits depend on many factors, including the environment where the animals were raised and what they were fed. The nutrients also vary depending on the cut of meat.

Its caloric content would also depend on which part it comes from and how it is cooked. But to give you a general idea on how many calories you’re likely to consume, here’s a comparison of the caloric content of different types of meat based on a 100g serving.

WHITE MEAT Calorie Content RED MEAT Calorie Content
Chicken 109.8 Beef 256.7
Turkey 98.6 Pork 262.4
Duck 286.6 Lamb 526.6
Quail 116.7 Bison 350.1

If you want a more comprehensive comparison of the nutritional values of these meat types, use our interactive comparison tool.

The Meat of the Matter

Even with the controversies surrounding the ill effects of meat consumption on our health and the environment, meat is still arguably a good source of protein, iron, and other vitamins and minerals. It can still be a part of a healthy diet as long as you make healthier choices about which type of meat to eat and how to cook it.

Keep your consumption to around 70g per day and avoid processed meat. If you’re cutting down on calories, choose low-fat modes of cooking such as steaming, grilling, or roasting. You can also alternate meat with plant-based sources of protein such as tofu, lentils, and hempseed. Most importantly, balance your diet with ample amounts from other food groups, especially fruits and vegetables.

Ultimately, good health relies on your overall diet and lifestyle and not just on which type of meat you consume.