A Weighty Issue:
Trimming down on
Backyard barbecues are a
summer tradition, but when you're trying to cut back on calories and fat,
you've got some decisions to make about what to cook on the grill. If you
stick with traditional favorites like burgers or beef steak, start by choosing
cuts that have a very low fat content most of the time, and reserve higher fat
cuts of meat (like most steak) for special occasions (once or twice a month). Here's
some information that can help you make more informed decisions when it comes
to buying "red" meat.
A weighty issue
It's important to note that the fat content listed on packages of meat sold in
U.S. supermarkets display the percentage of fat by weight, not by
calories. What does this mean to you? If you are trying to follow a
diet that is 25-30% fat, no more than 25-30% of your total calories
should come from fat. However, meats that are 25-30% fat are
not a good choice for your diet! Why? A pound (16 ounces or 454 grams) of
meat that is 25-30% fat by weight contains 4-5 ounces of pure fat.
That translates to 114-136 grams of fat in 16 ounces of meat, or about 28-30
grams of fat in a single 4 ounce serving of meat. For someone eating 2000
Calories a day , half of their fat calories for the whole day are contained in
a single 4 ounce serving of meat! And, about half of the fat in red meat is
saturated fat, so not only is it a poor choice for fat and calories, there is
a great deal of saturated fat in fatty meats, making it a poor choice for
heart health as well.
Fat adds flavor and tenderness to a cut of meat, and very low fat meats can
get too dry and tough when you grill them. With leaner cuts of meat, use other
ways to add flavor and improve texture:
Cut lean steak into
chunks, marinade and grill them on skewers, alternating with vegetables,
chicken, and shellfish.
Grill flank steak in
one large piece, cut against the grain (along the bias) into thin slices
and don't overcook. Flank steak is extremely lean cut of beef and has a
very good flavor, but gets tough if overdone.
When grilling burgers,
if you start with very lean ground beef, (7-10%), use a barbecue sauce or
marinade or add some spices and "fillers" to the meat to add
some texture and flavor. Or, top your hamburgers with green chiles, salsa,
grilled vegetables like onions and green pepper, or very low fat cheese in
addition to tomatoes, lettuce and other condiments.
If you are a "meat" eater, when it comes to "red"
meat, read the labels for fat content, and choose the cuts with the lowest
fat content for good health most of the time. The leanest types of
"red" meat are flank steak (sometimes called skirt steak or
London Broil w/o bacon), super lean ground beef (7-10% fat), pork
tenderloin, buffalo (read label for fat content), and most wild game such
as elk or venison. You do not have to avoid all red meat! In fact, 4
ounces of very lean red meat (such as flank steak), has a much lower fat
and calorie content than 4 ounces of roasted chicken with skin.
Enjoy your summer barbecues, but do take a few minutes to read labels!
Classick-Kohn,MS,RD is chief dietician and owner of her own
California based online weight loss program,
are currently available via web site only. PersonalDiets are
designed to give you an easy and convenient diet you can
live with. Each diet and meal plan considers your eating
preferences, lifestyle, health and give you
access to the professional support you need.