Red vs White Meat: Which protein wins??


Meat is the animal flesh that we consume as food. Which type of meat we eat, in this case, red or white, can be a matter of taste, preference, or for health reasons. Meat is the nutritional source of protein in our diet and provides us with zinc and other vitamins that we need. Red meat gets its color from high concentrations of myoglobin, which is the substance that helps muscles use oxygen. White meat, like its color, tends to be more-bland. There are some considerations to take into account when selecting which type of meat to have. The following information pertains to the differences between red and white meat.


Red meat tends to come from larger sized animals. It contains a higher level of myoglobin resulting in the red color. Red meat has been associated with heart conditions and diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity. Red meat has also been linked to colorectal cancer. This is because red meat contains more saturated and trans-fat than white meat. Because red meat has more fat that means it has more calories too. There are reduced fat and extra lean options. However, red meat does contain more iron, zinc, and vitamin B compared to white meat. The iron found in red meat is called heme iron which the body easily absorbs.


White meat is referred to as poultry. It can be obtained from chicken, fish, turkeys, rabbits, and pork. This meat is classified by color consisting of light and dark options. Certain areas on the body of animals have lighter and darker shades of meat. For example, on a chicken, the thighs and legs have darker meat that the breast area. Myoglobin creates the darker look and is found in areas of the body where muscles are readily used. White mean is leaner compared to red meat. It also has less fat content, equating to less calories. This also means white mean is lower in cholesterol. These differences are important for people with health and digestive concerns.

For meat eaters, it is a good idea to consume a small amount of both types in their diet. There are benefits to red and white meat. Red meat can be used for muscle gaining and bulking while white meat can be used for weight loss and looking to become leaner. Remember that one ounce of red meat (ground beef) has 70 calories compared to one ounce of white meat (chicken) having 30 calories. The body is also able to absorb more of the protein from white meat 80% versus 74% from red meat (bioavailability). Metabolism also plays a role in how the body utilizes and burns these sources. Every cell in the body needs protein, so be sure to “meat” the recommended daily requirements for optimal health (at minimum 45 grams per day for women and 52 grams for men).

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Dr. Megan Johnson McCullough owns a fitness studio in Oceanside CA called Every BODY's Fit. She has a Doctorate in Health and Human Performance, M.A. in Physical Education & Health Science, and she's an NASM Master Trainer & Instructor. She's also a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, Wellness Coach, and AFAA Group Exercise Instructor. She has 6 books on Amazon too,.