Weight and wellbeing

Can lean red meat play a role in the diet of an overweight or obese person? 

Many cuts of lean red meat are now even lower in fat than products which are classed as typical low-fat foods (for example, 100g of standard cottage cheese contains more fat than a 100g trimmed lean pork leg steak).

Weight control is not about avoiding certain foods, just as there are not special foods for overweight or obese patients, although the selection of low-fat and reduced sugar choices may help.

Research indicates that the energy density (calories per gram) of a food importantly determines how full we feel after eating.  Lower energy density foods have been shown to make people feel fuller.  Also people on a lower energy density diet have been found to lose more weight than on a standard low fat diet, without feeling hungrier, or restricting the total amount of food they eat.  There is now a substantial body of evidence to suggest that low-energy density food and diets promote satiation and satiety and in doing so can help control weight. 

There is a variety of ways to reduce the energy density of the diet.  Eating only small portions of fatty foods, increasing the water content of dishes, eating more fruit and vegetables, choosing higher-fibre foods and choosing lean source of protein will all help.  Also cooking red meat with the minimum amount of oil, discarding excess fat and including vegetables or pulses will help to reduce the energy density of the final dish.

Click here to see the balanced plate in resources section.

What advice should I give those who are overweight or obese about the inclusion of meat in their diet?
Encouragement should be given to include lean cuts of red meat as part of a healthy balanced diet when advising on weight reduction.

Meat is not only tasty and enjoyable, it also contains a number of other important nutrients, such as zinc and iron, which remain essential in the diet, and therefore avoidance of meat during weight control could result in a reduced intake of these nutrients.

What advice can I give to the overweight or obese about cooking meat?
Meat has the advantage over some other foods in that the fat can be removed easily both before cooking and on the plate. A study has shown that trimming fat from meat on the plate can reduce the fat content by as much as 79% for some meat.

Meat can be cooked without the addition of fat by methods such as grilling, dry frying, stir-frying or roasting on a rack.

For examples of low fat meals see our recipes section.