It probably isn’t news to you that people who are trying to manage their health and weight will choose a product made with turkey over one from beef or pork. But, what may be surprising is that not all turkey products are created equal and you may not be eating meat as lean as you think.
Bear in mind, when I write “turkey products” I am not writing about roasted turkey, turkey breast or turkey cutlets. I am referring to products made from turkey such as turkey bacon, turkey sausage, turkey burgers, and turkey hot dogs.
MIND YOUR MEAT
Turkey is believed to be low in calories and fat and it certainly can be but that doesn’t mean it always is or that it is the best choice given the circumstance. It is important to keep the cut of meat in mind when making your choice since that will determine the fat content and then calories.
The breast portion of the turkey, aka the white meat, is the leanest and the lowest calorie portion of the bird. The dark meat portion and skin contribute more fat and therefore more calories. Unbeknownst to most people, the greatest percentage of turkey products that line the shelves of the supermarket and end up in our carts come from a mixture of white meat, dark meat, and the skin.
Am I saying that turkey isn’t the best choice? No, the turkey product that you are eating still may be the leaner or even the leanest option available at the time BUT it may not be as lean or low in calories as you think. That is totally OK. You don’t always need to eat the leanest and lowest calorie choice but it is important to know what you are eating, stay educated, and use your noggin.
Don’t just throw a product into your cart because it is labeled “Turkey”. Read the label, look at the ingredients to see if the cut of meat is listed (food manufacturers don’t have to list this), look at the amount of calories and fat that is in the product, and compare against other products so that you can choose the best option for you at that given time.
THE TURKEY FACTS
Below is a chart comparing the calorie and fat content of different turkey, beef, and pork products commonly eaten. I listed calories, fat, protein, the calories coming from fat and protein along with the percentage of calories coming from fat and protein to illustrate that some products contain more fat than they do protein! It is also important to note that 95% lean ground beef is just as lean as 85% lean ground turkey meat and retains plenty of its moisture.
|Product||Calories||Fat (g)||Calories |
|% Calories from Fat /
% Calories From Protein
|99% Lean Ground Turkey Patty* (labeled "Extra Lean")||94||0.6||5||21||84||6 / 89|
|93% Lean Ground Turkey Patty*||128||7.1||64||16||64||50 / 50|
|85% Lean Ground Turkey Patty*||153||10.7||96||14||58||63 / 37|
|Turkey Meatballs**||189||11.3||102||14||57||54 / 30|
|Turkey Sausage**||167||8.9||80||20||81||48 / 49|
|Turkey Burger**||200||15||135||16||64||68 / 32|
|Turkey Hotdog***||102||8||72||6||26||71 / 26
|95% Lean Ground Beef Patty* (labeled "Extra Lean")||149||5.8||52||23||90||35 / 60|
|85% Lean Ground Beef Patty*||190||11.4||103||21||82||54 / 44|
|Beef Meatballs**||198||13.2||119||12||49||60 / 25|
|Beef Sausage**||286||24.1||217||16||63||75 / 22|
|Pork Sausage**||288||24.1||217||17||66||75 / 23|
|Beef Hamburger**||221||15.4||139||19||77||63 / 35|
|Beef Hotdog***||165||14.8||133||6||22||81 / 14|
*amount in 4 ounces raw weight which yields 3 ounces cooked
**amount in 3 ounces cooked of average brands
***amount in one frankfurter of average brands
TURKEY NEWS YOU CAN USE
Knowledge gives you the freedom to make the best choice possible given your preferences, desires, availability and environment. Too many people have come to me confused as to why they aren’t losing weight when they choose turkey products over beef and they question why they can’t “afford” to add something else to their meal when they choose a turkey based food instead of the beef. Sure it can be a significant difference but it usually isn’t that calorically significant when these foods aren’t made at home. And although rationalizing (which I discuss in the 7 Mind-Blowing Secrets To Weight Loss) is never appropriate, choosing a turkey product certainly doesn’t allow one to rationalize eating all of the French fries that come along with the burger or adding cheese to it.
Please don’t think I am telling you to ditch the turkey burger at the diner. If your heart is set on having a burger choosing the turkey burger still may be lower in calories and fat than the beef burger but there may be a better option if you are flexible. A simple grilled chicken sandwich topped with sliced tomato and red onion is most definitely going to be a lower calorie and healthier option. And don’t forget the old standby, a turkey sandwich made with whole wheat bread, tomato and onion. This is also going to be a more calorically responsible choice than a turkey burger …especially if you skip the mayonnaise or Russian dressing on it and just add some mustard.
Knowledge also gives you power — if you love foods made from ground meat enjoy them at home more often by making your own with leaner meats and make dishes such as my Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Italian Style Meatballs, Meatloaf, and Best Bolognese. This will allow you to enjoy your favorite foods more often since you have more control over what is going into your food.
When my clients cook more they find that they are more apt to eat other and healthier options when they are out since they can satisfy whatever their “fix” is at home anytime. These foods quickly become EVERYDAY FOODS and they are better able to MANAGE YOUR SPLURGES and use their splurges in other ways and less often.
Cheese Is Not A Condiment