What’s the difference between extra-lean, lean, medium and regular ground beef? Is their fat content really that different once they’re cooked?


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It’s true that cooking ground beef reduces its fat content. A beef patty made from regular ground beef, for example, loses one-third of its fat during grilling. For a six-ounce burger, that’s a big savings – about 20 grams of fat, or 5 teaspoons’ worth.

Even so, you can’t cook all the fat away. That six-ounce burger made from regular ground beef will still have more fat than one made from lean ground beef, an extra 11 grams of fat, give or take. If you make your burger with extra-lean ground beef instead of regular, you’ll save 21 grams of fat (and 170 calories). That’s considerable.

Ground beef – as well as ground chicken and turkey – is classified based on the maximum amount of fat it’s allowed to contain.

Extra-lean ground meat has no more than 10 per cent fat (e.g. 90-per-cent lean). In other words, extra-lean ground beef and chicken contain no more than 10 grams of fat per 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of raw meat.

Lean ground beef has a maximum of 17 per cent fat, medium ground beef has no more than 23 per cent fat and regular ground beef contains, at most, 30 per cent fat.

Ground beef is processed from a variety of beef cuts. Extra-lean and lean ground beef are made mostly from lean cuts such a sirloin and round steak. Medium and regular ground beef have a greater proportion of fattier cuts from the shoulder (e.g., chuck steak) and plate (e.g., skirt and hanger steak) areas of the cow.

Butchers also add fat trim when grinding beef to ensure the fat content of each variety meets the regulated guidelines.

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Extra-lean and lean ground beef are best for meatloaf, stuffed peppers and cabbage rolls – recipes that don’t need to be drained of fat after cooking. Medium ground beef is a good choice for recipes that allow excess fat to drip off during cooking or where fat can be drained off after cooking (e.g. burgers, meatballs).

Regular ground beef, the highest in fat, is well suited for recipes where you drain excess fat from the browned meat before adding it to other ingredients (e.g. pasta sauces, tacos, casseroles).

Of course, you don’t have to cook with medium or regular ground beef if you prefer not to. Lean and extra-lean ground beef work well in all recipes, with the added benefit of providing fewer calories and saturated fat (even after cooking).

There’s more to ground beef, however, than its calorie and fat content. All varieties of ground beef are exceptional sources of protein, B vitamins, heme iron (the type of iron that’s well absorbed), zinc and selenium.

A 100-gram (3.5-ounce) serving of cooked lean ground beef delivers 30 g of protein (5 eggs’ worth), a full day’s worth of vitamin B12 and half of a day’s worth of niacin, a B vitamin used to make stress hormones and convert carbohydrates into energy.

It also serves up 80 per cent to 90 per cent of your daily zinc requirements along with 22 micrograms of selenium (adults need 55 mcg a day), a mineral that helps regulate the thyroid gland, support immune function and fend off free radical damage.

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Still, don’t overdo it. There’s concern that eating too much red meat (e.g. beef, pork, lamb, goat) may increase the risk of colorectal cancer, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In fact, the connection between heavy intakes of red meat and colorectal cancer is so convincing that experts recommend we eat less than 18 ounces of it each week.

Substitute ground beef with lean or extra-lean ground chicken or turkey more often. Made from skinless, boneless breast and thigh meat (extra lean has more breast meat than thigh), both are excellent sources of protein, B vitamins (especially B12, niacin and pantothenic acid) and zinc.

In terms of calories and total fat, ground chicken and turkey are similar to extra-lean ground beef. They are, though, a little lower in saturated fat.

Back to beef burgers. Whether you make burgers with extra-lean, medium or regular ground beef, be sure to cook them to an internal temperature of 71 degrees C (160 degrees F) to kill off bacteria that cause food poisoning. Chicken and turkey burgers are safe to eat once they’ve reached 74 degrees C (165 degrees F).

Harmful bacteria can contaminate the outer surface of the meat. When the meat is ground, the bacteria are mixed into the meat.

That’s why it’s safe to cook steak to medium rare (63 degrees C/145 degrees F); the goal is to kill all bacteria on the outside of the meat. Burgers, however, must reach a higher internal temperature to ensure bacteria are destroyed.

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Ground meat by the numbers

Per 100 grams (3.5 ounces), broiled

Extra-lean ground beef

  • Calories: 203
  • Protein: 30 g
  • Fat: 9 g
  • Saturated fat: 4 g

Lean ground beef

  • Calories: 250
  • Protein: 26 g
  • Fat: 15 g
  • Saturated fat: 6 g

Medium ground beef

  • Calories: 270
  • Protein: 26 g
  • Fat: 18 g
  • Saturated fat: 7 g

Regular ground beef

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  • Calories: 304
  • Protein: 25 g
  • Fat: 22 g
  • Saturated fat: 9 g

Lean ground chicken

  • Calories: 189
  • Protein: 23 g
  • Fat: 10 g
  • Saturated fat: 3 g

Leslie Beck is a registered dietitian based at the Medisys clinic in Toronto.

How Many Ounces Is a Slice of Turkey?

The number of ounces in a slice of turkey varies based on how thick or thin the turkey is cut at the deli. If you’re purchasing prepackaged turkey slices, the weight of the slice will vary depending on the brand. Most slices of turkey are around 1 or 2 ounces in weight.

Measuring the Weight of Your Turkey Slices

The most precise way to measure the weight of your turkey slices is with a food scale. Start by placing your plate or napkin on the food scale and zeroing the food scale. You don’t want the food scale to count the weight of your dish or whatever you’re using to hold your meal towards the weight of your food. Then, select your preferred unit of measurement. You can then place your turkey slice on the food scale to determine its exact weight.

The Appropriate Serving Size for Turkey

If you’re watching your serving sizes or want to consume a specific amount of protein each day, it’s helpful to know the serving size for turkey. While the official serving size is dependent on the brand of the turkey, the suggested serving size for turkey is approximately 3 ounces.

Using Grams to Measure the Weight of Your Turkey Slices

Some food scales and food tracking apps use grams rather than ounces to measure portion sizes. If you’re used to weighing portions in ounces, you might not be able to visualize a serving in grams. There are approximately 28.35 grams in an ounce. So, if know that you need a 3-ounce portion, you would weigh out 85.05 grams of turkey.

Tips for Evenly Slicing Your Turkey

When serving or preparing turkey, you want to slice it as uniformly as possible. Before you start slicing, clean off any surfaces that you’ll use for your food prep and check that you have a sharp carving knife.

If you’re slicing a whole turkey, remove the legs and wings before making a horizontal cut along the rib area of the turkey. Then, make vertical cuts down to the horizontal cut for neat, even slices. You can also cut each of the turkey breasts away from the turkey entirely before you slice them.

In situations where you need paper-thin slices of turkey, use an electric meat slicer. Electric meat slicers allow you to customize the thickness of your slices so that they’re your ideal thickness.

How to Determine How Much Turkey You Need

Many people struggle with deciding how large of a turkey or how much turkey they need to purchase for their gathering or event. Culinary experts suggest that you cook a pound of turkey per person. So, if you’re having 10 people over, you’ll want to cook a 10-pound turkey.

This might seem excessive, especially now that you know a typical serving of turkey is only 3 ounces. However, the weight of a whole turkey also includes the bones. Cooking a 10-pound whole turkey doesn’t yield 10 pounds of meat. Using the pound-per-person recommendation accounts for the weight of the bones and will likely leave you with some leftovers after the event.

When cooking a boneless turkey, like a turkey breast, it’s permissible to use three-quarters of a pound per person as your guideline. This means that you’ll need a 7.5-pound turkey breast when you’re cooking for 10 people.

How to Calculate Food Portions for Catering

by Shoes For Crews Europe Published December 4, 2019

The most difficult task in catering is learning how to calculate food portions for the number of guests and the type of event you have. You don’t want people to go home hungry, but you also don’t want to have too many leftovers.

We’ve created a budget guide, covering the most common catering situations.

A Quick Guide on How to Calculate Food Portions for Catering

Food Platters

When making food platters with small bites of a food, for general and fast calculation, do the following:

Guests: ___ number of guests

End Result: ___ light snack (3 bites); ___ bridge the gap (6 bites); ___ full meal (10-12 bites)

Calculation: Guests X Bites = Total Bites

How Many Platters?: ___ Total Bites ÷ Bites per platter (example: 15) = Number of Platters


100 guests x Full Meal (10-12) = 1200 ÷ 15 = 80 platters
100 guests x Bridge the Gap (6) = 600 ÷ 15 = 40 platters

100 guests x Light Snack (3) = 300 ÷ 15 = 20 platters

So, for an event of 100 guests, you’ll need 80 platters to feed the guests at “full meal” capacity. You may feel the need to order 1-2 more than your calculation, but keep in mind that different guests have different levels of appetite.

It’s best not to have too many leftovers since any extra time making extra bites costs your staff time and costs you money in wasted ingredients.

Make sure everyone on your staff knows what’s in the foods and what you have on offer. A guest may have allergies (such as a dairy allergy) or a preference (such as an aversion to mayonnaise) and you’ll want your staff to be able to point the guest in the direction of options he or she can eat.

Make sure you do provide dairy free and nut free options for those with allergies and aversions as well as vegan and vegetarian options. Find out how you can delight customers by downloading our free ebook on keeping upto date with the latest food trends:

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Platter Variety

There are a range of different platters you can prepare as long as you calculate the portions correctly. Try and provide variety for your guests so something will appeal to everyone.

Here are some platter suggestions and what to include:

  • Fruit Platters: melon, pineapple, grapes, berries, seasonal fruit.

  • Meat and Cheese Platters: deli sliced beef, turkey, ham, other sliced meats optional; cheddar, swiss, or other sliced, regional cheeses; with salad vegetables: romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, and sprouts (cress); serve with mayo, mustard, and mini rolls.

  • Veggie Platter: carrots, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, celery, snow peas (sugar snaps), radishes, asparagus; serve with different dipping sauces.

  • Dips Platter: bruschetta topping, cheese dip, spinach-artichoke dip; serve with crostini and crackers for dipping.

  • Cheese and Crackers Platter: Serve assorted cheeses with crackers, digestive biscuits, chutneys, and fruit.

  • Fruit and Cheese Platter: seasonal fruits with a selection of cheeses; serve with bread and crackers.

  • Mediterranean Platter: falafel, quinoa, tabbouleh, hummus, pita bread, pesto drizzled feta, tzatziki.

  • Sandwich Platter: a series of pre-made sandwiches in a wide variety of options.

Keep presentation in mind when designing platters. You want to make everything look attractive and appealing. Vary your colour choice too as it will not only look beautiful, but it will also provide a nutritionally varied meal for your guests.

Catering Portions Chart

For a complete breakdown for buffet and table service portions, see our various charts. We have a chart that provides suggested portions for a single guest, 25 guests, and 50 guests – and can be scaled up or down accordingly.

From appetiser portions to soups and stews to desserts and side dishes, we cover almost every type of food you’d need to include on your catering menu – with European metric and US imperial measurements included too – so everyone can understand the quantities with ease.

Appetisers or Hors D’oeuvres


Soups and Stews

Entrees / Main Course

Side Dishes


If your appetisers or hors d’oeuvres are served as a meal, but you have a filling food station available such as pasta or mashed potatoes, you can reduce your numbers of hot and cold hors d’oeuvres/appetisers. It’s always a good idea to include a filling item along with appetisers so no one goes away hungry.

Often when eating small bites, customers do not know how much they’re eating so it’s a game of filling their mental hunger as well as physical hunger.

Stay Safe on Your Feet

When you work on your feet all day at events you’re catering for, moving from surface to surface can be dangerous so it’s vital that you wear the right shoes.

At Shoes For Crews (Europe), we have a selection of safe, comfortable, stylish, slip-resistant catering footwear that is perfect for you. These shoes keep you safe from the ground up and stop you from worrying about slips and trips, the most common workplace accident.

Keep Your Menu Fresh and Exciting

No matter how delicious your food is, there’s always room for innovation on your menu. Make sure you’re delighting customers by keeping up to date with the latest food trends.

Not sure what they are? Worry not – download our free eBook now.

Portion sizes

When it comes to working out how much food to serve, size really does matter and yes, you can have too much of a good thing. Watching your portion size is a key factor in helping to prevent weight gain.

How much should I eat?

Using your hand can be an easy way to check the size of your food portions on your plate.

There are differences between the size of our hands and they can be used a rough guide to help you know how much to cook and serve. When serving up for someone else, use the size of their hand.

If you’re looking to reduce portion sizes it’s a good idea to initially focus on eating less processed food, which is high in salt, sugar, and saturated fat.

Then move on to the meat, carbohydrate and cheese components of a meal. If you’re afraid your plate will look a little empty, why not fill it with more vegetables. These can be low cost if bought in season and should be eaten in larger quantities than other foods.

It can be very easy to over serve, and therefore overeat, especially when you are hungry! Use these tips to help you serve up healthy portions of the following food types:

How many vegetables and fruit can I eat?

Your two hands cupped together is a good guide for the portion of non-starchy vegetables like carrots, broccoli, beetroot, cauliflower or eggplant. Tip – choose vegetables from all the colours of the rainbow. Each colour provides a different range of nutrients. Frozen and canned vegetables and fruit are great options too.

How many grain foods and starchy vegetables can I eat?

A closed fist is a good guide for a portion of starchy carbohydrate foods like taro, potato, kumara, rice, pasta and bread. Tip – if you want more than one carbohydrate in your meal, reduce the size of each one, so the total is the size of one fist.

How many legumes can I eat?

A closed fist is a good guide for a portion of legumes, such as chickpeas, lentils or beans. Tip – Frozen, canned and dried legumes are great options too.

How much fish can I eat?

The whole of your hand is a good guide for a portion of fish (instead of meat in your meal). Tip – Your whole hand is about the size of one fish fillet.

How much meat can I eat?

The palm of your hand is a good guide for a portion of red meat or chicken. Tip – The thickness of the meat should be about the same thickness as the palm of your hand.

Guide to working out portion sizes

Get the Food Portions posterHow can I reduce my weight?

Red meat can be included in a balanced diet and is a good source of protein and iron. However, the NHS recommends that people who eat more than 90g (cooked weight) of red or processed meat per day cut down to 70g, as this could help reduce your risk of bowel cancer. But what does a 70g portion of red and processed meat really look like? Use our handy infographic to help you estimate how much meat you’re putting on your plate. An average 70g portion equates to…

  • 2 rashers of thick bacon
  • 1½ British pork sausages
  • Just over a third of an 8oz sirloin steak
  • 5 slices of thin lunch ham
  • 5 tbsp cooked mince
  • Half a patty of a large burger

*Figures are given as a guide only and are based on average cooked weights.

As you can see, it can be easy to exceed the recommended 70g limit just with one red or processed meat item, such as a whole steak or burger patty. If you eat more red or processed meat on one particular day, the NHS recommends consuming less in the following days or having some meat-free days, so that the average amount that you eat each day is less than 70g.

Want to learn more about the health benefits and risks of red or processed meat? Read our expert guides to find out exactly how much meat is safe to eat and whether bacon is really bad for you.

Find out more…

What is a flexitarian diet?
Classic recipes minus the meat
How much meat is safe to eat?
Is bacon bad for you?

This article was last reviewed on 9th October 2019 by dietitian Emer Delaney.

A nutritionist (MBANT) Kerry Torrens is a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food magazine. Kerry is a member of the Royal Society of Medicine, the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), and the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT).

All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

Red meat and the risk of bowel cancer

Eat well

Frequently asked questions

What is the current advice on eating red and processed meat?

The current advice, issued by the government, says adults who eat more than 90g of red and processed meat a day should reduce their intake to 70g a day, which is the average daily consumption in the UK. This is because there is probably a link between eating a lot of red and processed meat, and bowel (colorectal) cancer.

You can do this by eating these meats less often, eating smaller amounts or exchanging them for alternatives.

What is the advice based on?

The advice is based on a 2011 report called Iron and Health from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN). SACN is a committee of independent nutrition experts that advises the government on diet and nutrition.

Why did SACN issue advice on meat, when its report is about iron?

In its report, SACN looked at studies that assessed the link between iron and bowel cancer. Since red meat is a source of iron in the UK, the report also examined the evidence on red and processed meat, and bowel cancer.

SACN concluded that eating a lot of red and processed meat probably increases the risk of bowel cancer, and advised accordingly.

How much red and processed meat do we eat in the UK?

SACN used data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) to estimate adult consumption of red and processed meat in the UK.

Based on data from the NDNS (2000/01), the average total red meat consumption for men is around 88g a day. For women, it’s around 52g a day. This gives an average of 70g a day for all adults.

Why is this advice aimed at those who eat more than 90g of red or processed meat a day?

SACN examined evidence from scientific studies, and concluded that eating red and processed meat probably increases the risk of bowel cancer. But it could not identify the amount of red and processed meat that may increase the risk of bowel cancer because of inconsistencies in the data.

The average daily adult consumption of red and processed meat in the UK is 70g, so those who eat more than 90g are said to have a relatively high intake. It’s recommended that these people cut down on red and processed meat so that their consumption is in line with the average.

If I cut down on red and processed meat, will I still get enough iron?

Yes, providing you’re eating a balanced diet that includes other good sources of iron, such as lentils, beans, eggs, fish, chicken, turkey, nuts and breakfast cereals.

SACN looked at the impact of eating less red and processed meat on iron intake, using data from the 2000/01 National Diet and Nutrition Survey.

SACN estimates that if people who eat more than 90g a day of red and processed meat reduce their consumption to 70g a day, this will not increase the number of people who do not get enough iron in their diet.

If you do not get enough iron in your diet, you may be at risk of developing iron deficiency anaemia. Learn more about anaemia.

Does anyone else give advice on eating red and processed meat?

The World Cancer Research Fund report Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: A Global Perspective provided advice on red and processed meat in 2018.

The organisation said the evidence that red and processed meats are causes of bowel cancer is convincing. It advises that people eat no more than 500g of red meat a week (around 70g a day) and avoid processed meats.

Why are red and processed meat considered together?

SACN found no clear basis in the scientific evidence for separating unprocessed red meat and processed meat when it comes to their link to bowel cancer. Additionally, many of the scientific studies reviewed by SACN did not separate red and processed meat.

SACN therefore considered the impact of a reduction in total red meat intake, and advised accordingly.

Can red and processed meat form part of a healthy diet?

Yes, some meat or meat products, or other sources of protein, are recommended as part of a balanced diet.

Meat is a good source of protein, B vitamins, and minerals such as iron, selenium and zinc. It is also one of the main sources of vitamin B12, which is only found naturally in foods from animals, such as meat and milk.

Choose healthier meat and meat products, such as lean cuts of meat and leaner mince, where possible. You can learn more about healthy eating basics in 8 tips for healthy eating.

I’ve been eating red meat regularly for many years and am now worried about bowel cancer. What should I do?

Find out more about the symptoms of bowel cancer. If bowel cancer is detected early, it’s more treatable.

Early symptoms include changes in your bowel habits. If you’ve noticed blood in your poos or they’ve been looser for 3 weeks, see your doctor.

The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme offers screening every 2 years to all men and women aged between 60 and 74. People in this age range who are registered with a GP will automatically be sent an invitation for screening through the post every 2 years. Learn more about bowel cancer screening.

If you’re still concerned about bowel cancer, talk to your GP.

What else can I do to reduce my risk of bowel cancer?

You can learn more about reducing your risk of bowel cancer in causes of bowel cancer.

People who smoke cigarettes are at greater risk of developing bowel cancer. Stopping smoking will reduce your risk.

Obesity and being inactive are also linked to an increased risk of bowel cancer, so get advice on achieving a healthy weight and getting more active.

In general, people who have a balanced diet are less likely to get certain types of cancer. Learn more about a balanced diet.

4 oz of meat

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