Which lean will reign supreme? Beef vs. Chicken

The meat section at the grocery story offers a dizzying array of selections, and it can be difficult to decide which protein is best for you. Under the umbrella of chicken, beef, pork, etc. each type has various fat contents, cuts, and portions. When it comes to price per nutrient value, two of the meats that I most commonly eat are chicken and lean ground beef.

Let’s take a closer look: what are the pros and cons of each? It is a chicken vs. beef breakdown. 

Chicken has some very impressive benefits; it is slightly higher in protein per pound than lean ground beef. Chicken also beats out meat in in saturated fat content (meaning that it has less) by about one gram per 100 grams. Saturated fat is the worst kind of fat for your health. Getting too much can lead to an increase in your LDL cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease. However this extra gram of saturated fat in ground beef will probably not be that significant to your overall health.

NOTE: this is based on lean ground beef… so packages marked 93/7 or better. The first number is meat as compared to fat percentages. 93% of the cut is lean muscle while 7% is fat tissue.

I’ve found that chicken is the most economical source of protein with lean ground beef as a close second. Chicken (breast no skin) is commonly $2 per pound and lean ground beef is $4 per pound–when on sale– otherwise it can get up to $5-6.

The major allure of ground beef for me is the taste. With chicken I always need some kind of seasoning to eat it, while I could eat ground beef plain all day. Ground beef also has an advantage over chicken in nutrients. The two main nutrients that ground beef has over chicken are iron and creatine. Iron can help prevent anemia, but this is only really an issue if you are not getting iron from other sources. ( Anemia is also more common in women as we lose iron during our menstrual cycle. I take a women’s multivitamin every other day.) If you are low on iron it is probably better to go and get a multivitamin than down a pound of ground beef (and much fewer calories). Creatine is another bonus that comes with eating ground beef. Creatine has been shown to increase workout intensity and faster recovery in between sets. This is another nutrient that can be supplemented fairly cheaply.  The last time I bought creatine it cost about $20 and lasted me a year.
Major nutrients in chicken and lean ground beef – this is not a complete list

Chicken (breast) 93% Lean ground beef 
Niacin Niacin
Vitamin B6 Vitamin B6
Vitamin B12 Vitamin B12
Choline Choline
Phosphorous Phosphorus
Riboflavin Riboflavin
Selenium Selenium
Pantothenic acid Pantothenic acid


Bottom line- switch it up every once in awhile. There isn’t that much of a difference between the two, so alternate between. We like to eat chicken most of the time and then pounce on beef when it goes on sale. You could also add ground turkey into the mix so you don’t get too bored (but ground turkey is a post for another day!). There are other concerns such as treatment of the animals, grass-fed diets, and sustainability— all important considerations when planning your health goals to investigate.

At the end of the day a healthy life is about balance. Eating a variety of things will fill in any nutritional gaps in your diet and offer a sustainable lifestyle.

-Stay consistent out there



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