Have Your Steak and Eat It Too

Health Professional

If you're like most people who are into staying healthy, losing weight, and keeping fit, you probably do your best to avoid red meat - or, at least, feel very guilty if you do have a nice juicy steak every so often. The good news is, you don't need to be as long as you eat steak sensibly and know that there are benefits to red meat. You also need to realize that not all steaks are created equal. I, for one, look forward to my quarterly "guys' night out." This is a get together for me and a handful of male friends and an answer to our wives' monthly book club. It invariably is held at that most venerable of testosterone laden establishments, the steak house.

This past quarter was no different. What was different, for me at least, was that I was trying to eat healthier, consume fewer calories and lose weight. Is that possible at a steak house? You bet

You see, it all depends on the cut of meat you choose. Not all steaks are loaded with calories and fat. Sure, some are, especially the tastiest ones. Think of steak as a spectrum- on one end is the tastiest, but fattiest, most calorie loaded, artery blocking hunk of meat, the rib-eye. On the other end of the spectrum, is the leanest, least tasty but most tender in terms of texture, the filet mignon.

In between are various others, such as sirloin, New York strip and porterhouse. A 20 oz. rib-eye steak, typical size in a premium steak house, is a whopping 1100 calories, much of which comes from fat. A 6 oz. filet mignon on the other hand, also typical size at a premium steak house, is only 370 calories and has minimal fat. Moreover, steak is a great source of protein, especially for you weight lifters, and is a good source of B vitamins. It is a great source of Vitamin B12, B6, Niacin, phosphorous and zinc. The B vitamins have been implicated in decreasing odds of heart disease. B vitamins are thought to play a role in the conversion of the dangerous chemical homocysteine into more benign molecules.

At the restaurant, I ordered the 6 oz. filet. It was still delicious, and incredibly tender - a totally different experience from the rib-eye but with a lot less guilt. Beware, though. Most steak houses also serve side dishes that, if the steak doesn't clog your arteries, will easily do so, like creamed spinach, French fries, and mashed potatoes, just to name a few. There was also the grilled vegetable option, which I chose. I escaped with a calorie total of about 800, some of which was beer.

Take home point? It's unnecessary to demonize steak, as long as you know what cut of meat to order, eat sensible portions, and are prudent about side dishes. Additionally, you'll get a great source of B vitamins and muscle building protein in the process.  Enjoy!