What is lean? Did you know that the typical American diet is nearly 50% fat? Fast foods and restaurants use too much fat and oils in cooking – which is part of the reason why the average American is overweight.
Keys to eating lean
- Choose lean; chicken, turkey, fish, lean beef, lean pork, eggs, and beans
- Minimize or eliminate fatty and processed meats
- Less than 25% of your daily calories from fat
- Actively minimize added fats like cooking oils and butter
- Choose unsaturated fats like vegetable oil and olive oil over saturated fats like butter, lard, and shortening
- Eliminate trans fats (hydrogenated oils) found in stick margarine, shortening, and fast foods
- Eat baked or grilled fish at least once per week
- Eliminate breaded and fried foods
- Limit red meat to once per week
- Choose one day per week to go meatless – serve beans instead
Processed and Fatty Protein
Meats like bacon, sausage, ground beef, chicken skin, pepperoni, salami, hamburgers, hot dogs, pork and potted meats contain massive quantities of fat.
Deep frying & breading meats need to be eliminated. It is OK to eat a ribeye steak, some bacon, barbecue, bratwurst, or pork ribs occasionally (like once a week for your splurge meal) but they cannot be in the regular rotation.
Fats are extremely energy dense and nutritionally empty – 9 calories for every gram compared with 4 calories for every gram of lean protein. Fats are also loaded with cholesterol which coats the veins and arteries with a sticky glue-like substance that will eventually lead to hypertension, hardening of the arteries and heart disease.
Center your diet around lean meats like chicken, eggs, turkey, fish, and lean beef like London Broil & Sirloin, and lean pork like pork tenderloin. Meats should be baked, grilled, or lightly fried (stir-frying). Nuts, seeds, and many beans are also an excellent protein source.
Serving sizes for lean protein
- 2 ounces of lean meat
- 2 eggs = 1 serving
- 1/2 can tuna (5 oz) = 1 serving
- 1/2 cup of cooked beans
Serving targets for lean protein
- 2 to 3 servings per day
Actively Minimize Fats
Fats are loaded with calories – a tablespoon of butter or a tablespoon of any cooking oil (yes, even olive oil) is 100% fat and contains about 100 to 120 calories and about 13 fat grams. In order for a 1,500 calorie per day diet to contain less than 25% fat, daily fat grams must be less than 42.
Calories & Fat Grams in 1 tablespoon of cooking oils & mayonnaise
|Type||Calories per tbsp||Fat grams|
Fat Calories Add Up Quickly
This daily diet of lean protein and 1% milk has some fat, let’s say 21 grams per day. This means that a mere 2 tablespoons of butter or oil during the course of the day pushes fat intake over the limit. That’s why oils used in cooking and flavoring need to be actively minimized – pretty easy to use a few tablespoons of cooking oil or butter isn’t it? A tablespoon of butter on your breakfast toast, a tablespoon of mayo on that turkey sandwich at lunch, some fatty salad dressing, some more in the pan while making vegetables for dinner, even more on top of the vegetables after they’re cooked…well, it adds up in a hurry.