Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Is a 3-ounce Meat Portion Recommended?

Should any type of meat or poultry that is consumed be only 3 oz, or does it depend on whether it's steak or chicken? I've read that it should be no larger than the palm of the hand. Is that true? Thanks, Danielle H.

Dear Danielle,

A 3-oz portion of a "protein" food (usually an animal product) is often what is recommended for those on a weight loss, low-fat, or low-cholesterol diet. It's enough to provide protein and other nutrients for anyone who eats two servings per day. There is no reason not to eat 4, 5, or 6 ounces if you are not overweight and you are hungry enough to eat this much once in a while. The problem is that many people often eat 1/2 pound hamburgers or 12 ounce steaks, or take second helpings all of the time and they are overweight or suffer from elevated cholesterol levels or other health problems that large servings of meat will not help.

Whether it's steak, chicken, pork, or fish, about 3 ounces provides about 20 grams of protein--enough to bring the daily protein intake--within an otherwise balanced diet--to 60-80 grams which is what the average person needs. Larger servings add unnecessary calories, fat, cholesterol, etc and over time become an unhealthy habit. A good way for most people to gauge a 3-oz portion (without weighing everything you eat) is to estimate about the size of the palm of your hand, or about the size of a deck of cards.

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