Cuts of Beef and Other Protein Low in Saturated Fat

How to Find Meat That Is Low in Fat

Flank Steak
Flank Steak is Low in Saturated Fats and is allowed on the South Beach Diet. Rosemary Weller/The Image Bank/Getty Images

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and virtually every medical organization recommend keeping your consumption of saturated fats low. If you are trying to follow these recommendations, this list of lean meats and other protein foods that are low in saturated fat should be helpful. It includes low-fat cuts of fish, beef, pork, and poultry.

Most low-carb diets don't emphasize the reduction of saturated fats, but some do.

These meats would be allowed on many low-carb diets that emphasize a reduction in saturated fats, including the South Beach Diet, Sonoma, and the Zone Diet.

Fish and Seafood

All fish and seafood are acceptable, but nothing breaded or deep-fried. Canned tuna should be packed in water.


Always remove the skin from poultry, and avoid all breading. No goose or duck is allowed. These are acceptable:

  • Chicken or turkey: White meat is fine
  • Dark meat: Occasionally after Phase One
  • Turkey bacon or low-fat sausage: Acceptable in moderation
  • Cornish hen

Beef: Acceptable Cuts

Beef cuts can be confusing, as names vary a lot. Dr. Agatston, the originator of the South Beach Diet, has approved the following cuts of beef:

Ground Meat:

  • Ground sirloin
  • Ground beef with less than 10 percent fat

Cuts from the short loin (names vary by location):

  • Short loin
  • Tenderloin roast
  • T-Bone steak
  • Porterhouse steak
  • Tenderloin steak
  • Filet mignon
  • Fillet steak
  • Top loin steak
  • Strip steak
  • Kansas City steak
  • New York strip steak
  • Hotel-Style steak
  • Sirloin Strip steak
  • Club steak
  • Country club steak
  • Delmonico steak
  • Shell steak

Cuts from the sirloin, which can be called:

  • Tri-Tip
  • Sirloin steak
  • Top sirloin
  • Coulotte steak
  • Cap steak
  • Round-Bone steak
  • Beef Loin
  • Flap steak
  • Flap meat

    Cuts from the round, which can be called:

    • Bottom round
    • Top round
    • Eye (of the) round
    • Round tip roast
    • Rump roast
    • Round tip steak
    • Ball tip steak
    • Beef sirloin tip steak
    • Breakfast steak
    • Knuckle steak
    • Sandwich steak
    • Minute steak
    • Round steak

    Other acceptable beef cuts:

    • Flank steak
    • London broil

    Pork: Acceptable List

    • Boiled ham
    • Tenderloin
    • Loin
    • Lean, well-trimmed chops
    • Canadian bacon
    • Occasional crisp-cooked, well-drained bacon (best as a garnish)


    • Leg of lamb, well trimmed of fat
    • Lambchop as an occasional treat


    • Top round
    • Leg cutlet
    • Chop

    Lunch Meats

    Lunch meats should be sugar-free and low in fat. Deli turkey is a good choice.

    Other Acceptable Protein Sources

    • Eggs
    • Tofu
    • Seitan
    • Tempeh
    • Beans
    • Low-fat meat substitutes

    Note on Saturated Fats and Low-Carb Diets

    The Atkins Diet, LCHF, and most other low-carb approaches don't emphasize reducing saturated fats as long as carbs are kept low. They point to the lack of evidence that reducing saturated fats to extremely low levels is helpful in terms of risk reduction for most people.

    Several attempts to look at all the research on the subject have found no benefit from lowering saturated fat, and this may be especially true in the context of a low-carb diet. While research is continuing, health authorities still recommend reducing saturated fat.


    Chowdhury R, Warnakula S, Kunutsor S, et al. Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2014;160(6):398-406. doi:10.7326/m13-1788.

    Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 Eighth Edition. USDA.

    Hooper L, Martin N, Abdelhamid A, Smith GD. Reduction in saturated fat intake for cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. October 2015. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd011737.

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