Your Complete Guide to Beef
As youâ€™re following the South Beach Diet, you may notice that lean protein is a core part of the plan â€” and thereâ€™s a good reason why: Lean protein curbs hunger and allows you to maintain muscle mass while losing weight, which keeps your metabolism running at its peak efficiency. Lean beef is not only a good source of protein but also of iron and vitamin B12. Lean cuts of beef â€” those containing less saturated fat, such as sirloin and tenderloin â€” are recommended on all Phases of the South Beach Diet. Other fattier cuts, like prime rib, should be avoided until Phase 3 and even then should be eaten sparingly.
Making the Grade
To choose the leanest beef, you should consider both its grade and cut. The grade is a voluntary US Department of Agriculture evaluation that's based on the amount of fat marbling, which is how much fat is in the meat muscle. "Prime" is the highest grade, meaning the beef is fattier and more marbled than in other grades; "Select" grade is the leanest beef; and "Choice" beef is in between. Your best bet is to choose Select grades of beef. You can also use your eyes to gauge whatâ€™s leanest, avoiding those with lots of white marbling.
A Cut Above
When buying beef you also need to factor in the cut, which refers to the part of the cow the meat comes from. Meat from more active parts of the cow tends to be more muscular and have less fat, while cuts from more sedentary parts are more tender and fatty. There are approximately 300 types of retail cuts of beef.
The best beef choices for the South Beach Diet come from the round, loin, and flank cuts of beef. You want to go for lean meat that has 10 g or less of total fat and 4.5 g or less of saturated fat per 100 g portion. Below are the cuts of beef you can enjoy.
Phase 1 Cuts of Beef
Round cuts, such asâ€¦
Bottom round: This lean, economical cut of beef is also referred to as Swiss steak, griller steak, or Western steak. Braising is the best cooking method for this tougher cut.
Eye of round: This cut comes from the outer part of the round, separated from the bottom round. The eye is a small round-shaped steak that is very lean, but because it is a tough steak, it requires a tenderizing marinade before itâ€™s grilled, broiled, or pan-seared.
Top round: This comes from the upper portion of the rear leg of the cow. Although the top round steak is flavorful and a bit more tender than other round cuts, it should still be marinated first if it is to be grilled or broiled.
Short loin cuts, such asâ€¦
T-bone: This steak can be identified by its T-shape bone. It comes from the center section of the short loin. The T-bone is almost the same cut as the Porterhouse but with a much smaller section of the filet attached, which makes it tender. The best cooking method is broiling or pan-broiling.
Tenderloin: Better known as filet mignon, this expensive cut of beef is the most tender steak you can buy. Because it is so juicy, you donâ€™t want to marinate it. Filet mignon is best prepared medium-rare.
Top loin: This is a tender, flavorful, and versatile steak that is more commonly known as New York strip steak.
Sirloin cuts, such asâ€¦
Sirloin steak: The sirloin is near the rump of the cow, so the meatâ€™s a bit tougher than cuts from the loin or the rib. You can choose whether or not to marinate your sirloin steak. Sirloin is usually grilled or broiled.
Flank cuts, such asâ€¦
Flank steak: These cuts of beef come from the belly muscles of the cow. Flank is a lean piece of meat that is very flavorful. Because it is so lean, avoid overcooking.
London broil: The classic London broil is not a cut of beef but rather a method of cooking. To prepare a London broil, marinate a flank steak until tender, then broil or grill it and slice thinly across the grain.
Ground beef: Ground beef is simply beef thatâ€™s been ground or finely chopped; it can be used for making hamburgers and meatloaf. When choosing ground beef, opt for extra lean, lean sirloin, or sirloin varieties that have the least amount of fat.
Pastrami, lean: Pastrami is a delicatessen meat made chiefly from brisket or a cut from the round. The raw meat is brined, partly dried and cured, seasoned with various herbs and spices, then smoked and cooked. On the South Beach Diet, choose only pastrami made from the round rather than the brisket, which is a higher-fat cut.
Phase 2 Cuts of Beef
All cuts of beef on Phase 1, as well as...
Hot dogs: Starting on Phase 2, all hot dogs made with beef (or pork, poultry, or soy) can be enjoyed occasionally, as long as they are at least 97% fat-free (3 to 6 g fat per serving). Serve them with whole-wheat buns topped with sauerkraut or mustard. Avoid sugary condiments like ketchup.
Phase 3 Cuts of Beef
Starting on Phase 3 of the South Beach Diet, you can reintroduce other types of meat, such as brisket and prime rib, but even then they should be eaten sparingly because they are typically high in saturated fat. Hereâ€™s a list of Phase 3 cuts of beef:
Brisket: Brisket is taken from the breast section beneath the first five ribs, behind the foreshank of the cow. Itâ€™s a tough cut of beef that becomes tender during a long cooking process.
Ribs, such asâ€¦
Prime rib: This beef choice is one of the most flavorful and expensive cuts of beef you can buy. Prime rib is taken from the rib section of the cow.
Rib steak (also known as rib-eye): Similar in appearance to a club steak or T-bone, this cut (often referred to as a Delmonico steak) is less tender and more fatty. You can often find this cut in kosher meat shops.
Rib-eye roast: This juicy rib-eye cut can be roasted to make a boneless version of a rib roast, or cut into individual steaks, called rib-eye steaks. Rib-eye roasts are very tender, well marbled with fat, and quite expensive.
Plate cuts, such asâ€¦
Skirt steak: A skirt steak is the cowâ€™s diaphragm muscle that is cut from the flank. Itâ€™s a long, flat piece of meat that is fatty and tough but has a lot of flavor. Skirt steak is often used to make fajitas.
Beef jerky: Jerky is a chewy strip of dried beef that is typically high in sodium. Avoid it unless it is homemade without sugar.
Beef liver: Beef liver is rich in vitamin A and iron.
How to Minimize Fat in Beef
There are also measures you can take in the kitchen to further decrease the fat in beef. For starters, trim any visible fat before cooking. Certain cooking methods can also significantly reduce the fat, such as:
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