Diet & Weight Magazine

11 Different Types of Meat: List with Protein, Carbs, Fat & Nutrition Facts

By Leo Tat @AuthorityDiet

When I was a kid, we were all still being brought up with the traditional food pyramid: eat lots of grains, consume a fair amount of fruits and vegetables, eat small portions of meat and dairy, and minimize fats and sugars.

Since then, conventional wisdom concerning food portions has changed quite a bit.

Nowadays, the bottom section of the pyramid would be comprised mainly of meats, veggies and healthy fats.

Grains would go right up at the top with sugars.

Culture is finally catching up with science, and more and more people are starting to realize that meat isn't just something they can indulge in.

It's actually something they should be eating.

But if you grew up at the same time I did (or earlier), you probably weren't brought up with much in the way of knowledge regarding meat nutrition.

You may realize that you need to be eating fewer grains and more meat than you did when you were young, but you may have a lot of questions.

What types of meat should you be eating? Does it need to be fat or lean? What should you know about preparing it?

In this article, I will share 11 different types of meat with you along with their full nutritional information.

But first, let's talk about why eating meat is good for you, and dispel a few of the pervasive myths surrounding meat.

The Meat Controversy

You have probably heard a lot of claims made about meat:

"Meat will make you fat."

"Meat will give you cancer."

"Meat is bad for your heart."

Maybe you have even taken some of these claims for granted. But how true are these claims? Are they myth, or are they fact?

To address these concerns, I will teach you more about the different categories of meat, and also discuss issues relevant to how the meat is raised and prepared.

Overall, you'll discover that meat is generally healthier than you may have realized.

Nonetheless, there are some concerns. But thankfully, these are relatively easy to mitigate.

​Categories of Meat

First of all, it helps to be familiar with the different categories of meat.

Any meat you buy can be placed into one of several categories.

White meat​

As the name indicates, white meat has a light color. Usually, it comes from a bird.

The most common examples are chicken and turkey. Others include duck, goose, pheasant, and quail.

Red meat​

This type of meat can also be identified from its color, which in this case is reddish owing to the present myoglobin, a protein which is rich in iron.

Examples of red meat include beef, pork, veal, goat, lamb, bison, venison, and elk

Processed meat​

This is any type of meat (white or red) which has been extensively processed.

This could involve any number of modifications, including seasoning, drying, salting, smoking, curing, or the addition of preservatives.

Common examples include hot dogs, lunch meats, bacon, sausages, and jerky.


This category is self-explanatory. Some people do not consider it "meat."

Since it is the flesh of an animal, I have included it here, but it will not be the focus of this article.

​Choosing the Best Meats

​Now that you are familiar with the basic categories of meat, we can dive into a deeper discussion about the healthiness of meat.

Fat Considerations

First of all, let's talk about fat.

Many people have been raised to believe that fat is bad for them. In reality, fat is an important nutrient.

In fact, if you are on a low-carb diet, fat will be your primary source of energy.

But whether it is healthy or not depends on the type of fat you are consuming.

Fat can be broken down into three categories:

  • Saturated fats feature single bonds.
  • Monounsaturated fats feature double bonds.
  • Polyunsaturated fats feature two bonds or more.

You should avoid polyunsaturated fats for the most part.

The reason has to do with cooking. Polyunsaturated fats have more reactive bonds.

When subjected to high heat, these bonds can break more easily than those in monounsaturated or saturated fats.

This can lead to harmful oxidization.

What about saturated fat?

Saturated fat has gotten a bad rap over the years, but it actually does not deserve to be demonized.

Researchers believed in the past that saturated fat caused heart disease.

The reason they believed this is because:

  1. ​Saturated fat causes cholesterol levels to rise.
  2. Rising cholesterol levels may lead to heart disease.

In reality, things are a little more complicated.

It is true that saturated fat can lead to an increase in LDL cholesterol, but it also can increase HDL cholesterol, which in turn can reduce the risk of heart disease ( 1).

Furthermore, saturated fat consumption can increase the size of LDL particles ( 2), which can reduce heart disease risk ( 3).

On top of that, long-term observational studies have been conducted to look at the effects of saturated fat consumption on LDL cholesterol, and a number of them have not found a link at all ( 4, 5, 6).

In short, saturated fat is not necessarily something you need to be going out of your way to avoid.

So when you are shopping for meats to eat, look for those which have a higher ratio of monounsaturated and saturated fats, and a lower ratio of polyunsaturated fats.

Interestingly enough, you will find that one of the "best" meats from this nutritional standpoint is beef - one of the most demonized red meats in the past.

Per 100 grams, beef contains a lower ratio of polyunsaturated fats than chicken or pork.

Note that the ratio of polyunsaturated fats in meat may vary not only from one type of meat to the next, but even within a single type of meat.

This has to do with the conditions the animal was kept in before it was butchered.

  • Animals fed diets high in polyunsaturated fats produce meat which is likewise high in polyunsaturated fats.
  • Animals raised in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) have higher polyunsaturated fats as well (yet another great reason to go for meat from free range animals kept in humane conditions rather than factory farmed meat from animals penned in tight spaces).

The other matter to consider when it comes to fat is the ratio of omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids.

You probably are aware that omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, while omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory.

For this reason, when selecting meats, you should look for those which have a higher ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids.

Here, beef is also one of the best choices.

Even though the ratio is around 4:1 in favor of omega-6 fatty acids, it is even worse for pork and chicken, which are around 10:1.

Of course, the very best choice in this regards is fatty fish such as mackerel, trout, carrying, tuna, cod, halibut, sardines and salmon.

These fish are among the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids anywhere.


I will not spend a lot of time on this section, because I will be sharing detailed nutritional profiles for different types of meat with you later on in this article.

I will mention that red meat is a great source of protein, zinc, iron, and B vitamins.

In particular, you will want to note that the form of iron found in meat is more bioavailable than that found in vegetables. It is known as "heme iron."

Another benefit of eating red meat is that it can help your body to absorb and process vitamin D.

This is in part due to the presence of a vitamin D metabolite known as 25(OH)D3.

As to chicken, that is a good source of vitamin B6 and niacin, as well as selenium and phosphorus.

Pork is also high in a range of minerals and B. vitamins.

Along with omega-3 fatty acids, seafood is rich in vitamin D, B. vitamins, selenium, iodine, iron, zinc, copper and more.

​Minimize Processed Meats

Now let's talk about the claim that eating red meat can increase your chances of cancer.

It is true that certain cancers have been linked in scientific research to red meat ( 7, 8, 9, 10).

In the studies in question however, the way that the meat was prepared may have been responsible for the link.

The vast majority of studies which have linked red meat to cancer have involved meat which was cooked at a high heat.

What about studies which found an association, but which did not involve cooking at high heat?

In these cases, most of the meats which are linked to cancers were well-done, processed, or both ( 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16).

The cancer most commonly linked to red meat through research is colon cancer.

Nonetheless, in 2011, a meta-analysis was unable to find sufficient evidence to state definitively that red meat causes colon cancer ( 17).

The other reason to avoid heavily processed meats is fairly simple and straightforward, and that is that they may have unnecessary additives.

These additives may not be nutritious, and in some cases may be unhealthy.

​Stay Away From Hormones

Something else to watch out for in your meat supply is added hormones.

Livestock animals may be pumped full of estrogen, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone and other hormones to boost production.

This practice is considered so hazardous from a human health standpoint that it has led to a complete ban in the European Union ( 18).

In other regions, there is some degree of leniency, with the use of hormones being regulated, but not altogether forbidden.

Many health conditions which are pervasive in today's world involve hormonal imbalances.

These conditions are not well understood at this point in time, but it seems likely that the presence of hormones in meats should be a contributing factor to some of these imbalances.

For this reason, when you are shopping for meats, you should look on the packaging for labels that indicate that the animals were not given extra hormones.

​Ethical Meat Eating

While not strictly a nutritional concern, it is also worth taking a moment to mention the health and well-being of animals as well as the planet.

If you are going to eat meats, you should shop with ethics in mind, and choose meat which has been humanely raised with a low environmental impact.

As mentioned previously, this is actually connected to nutrition in some respects.

Animals which are confined have higher ratios of polyunsaturated fats, which are bad for your health.

Meat which has been genetically modified may have unpredictable effects on your body.

There is also some (albeit minimal) concern that meat injected with antibiotics could contribute to the spread of disease among human beings ( 19).

​​Prepare Your Meat Right

You are already aware that meat which has been cooked at high temperatures has been linked in research studies with cancer.

That means that when you cook meat, you should strive to do so at a lower temperature that will cook the meat through, but not be harmful.

Methods which work well include boiling, baking, steaming and stewing.

The reason why high heat cooking is so harmful probably has to do in part with the by-products which result.

These include advanced glycation end products (AGEs) heterocyclic amines (HAs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Indeed, many of the studies which link meat to cancer do so directly through these compounds ( 20, 21, 22).

As discussed previously, avoiding meats which are high in polyunsaturated fats can help as well, since you will be cooking food with more stable bonds.

On that note, you should also cook using oils which likewise feature stable bonds.

Find action tips for preparing meats the healthy way below.

​Nutritional Profiles for
11 Types of​​ Meat

​Now we've covered the basics of meat nutrition, which will help you to interpret the data that I am going to share in this section.

You also know how to cook your meats in a safe and healthy manner.

So let's get started with the meat profiles.

1. Pork

Pork is meat from pigs.

You can see below that it is high in protein, thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorus and selenium.

While pork is light in color, it is considered a red meat, not a white meat.

Like beef and other red meats, it is high in myoglobin.

Pork can be enjoyed on its own, but it is also used to make products such as bacon, sausage, ham, salami, hot dogs, prosciutto, jamon and more.

Pork Nutrition Facts

The following is the ​nutrient profile from 100g of pork ( 42):

​Benefits of Pork

  • Pork is rich in many nutrients, as discussed. It is particularly high in vitamin B1, zinc and selenium. These nutrients improve immune function, fight against the damage of harmful free radicals, and help to regulate hormones (25, 26).
  • It costs less to buy pork than it does to purchase many other types of meat.

Cons of Pork

  • The omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio for pork is pretty bad. There are also 1.9 g of polyunsaturated fat.
  • Pork is more likely than other types of meats to be contaminated, so it must be cooked with extra care (23, 24).

​2. Beef

Beef is meat from cattle. Together with pork and chicken, it is one of the most popular meats around.

It is of course a red meat, with an obvious reddish color.

Beef products may include:

Remember, you do not need to stay away from fatty beef. Most of us were trained to do so instinctually, but the fat is not bad for you.

Buying fatty beef can keep the cost of your beef meals down significantly compared to what you would be paying for leaner cuts of meat.

​Beef Nutrition Facts

The following is the ​nutrient profile from 100g of ​beef ( 4​3):

​Benefits of Beef

  • Beef is rich in nutrients such as protein, healthy fat, vitamin B12, niacin, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.
  • While the omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio for beef is not exactly "good," it is not as bad as it is for other types of meat such as pork. ​In addition, if you want a better ratio, grass-fed beef ​has double the omega-3 content (43). Beef also has only 0.5 g of polyunsaturated fat. The rest is divided between saturated fat (7.7 g) and monounsaturated fat (8.8 g).
  • The most predominant fatty acid in beef is oleic acid. Sound familiar? This is the principle fatty acid in olive oil as well. It is actually good for your cardiovascular health (27, 28).
  • Healthy compounds such as glutathione and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) also add to the nutritional value of beef (29, 30, 31).

Cons of Beef

  • If you cook beef at high heat or you burn it, carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can form. Thankfully, you can avoid these for the most part simply by changing the way you cook your beef (32, 33).
  • Beef tends to be more costly than chicken or pork. Buying fattier meat can help bring the price down.
  • Those who are prone to over-absorbing heme iron may actually get too much iron from beef (34, 35) - at least when beef is eaten in large amounts. This can occur with hemochromatosis patients.

3. Chicken

Chicken, like beef and pork, is very popular, and one of the main meats that a lot of people consume.

Unlike pork and beef, it is a white meat.

Chicken can be enjoyed in many different recipes. Its light, versatile flavor makes it a great accompaniment to quite a few ingredients.

​Chicken Nutrition Facts

The following is the ​nutrient profile from 100g of ​chicken ( 4​​4):

​Benefits of Chicken​

  • Chicken is a rich source of niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B12, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and protein.
  • Like pork, chicken is pretty inexpensive.
  • Chicken has 1.5 g of polyunsaturated fat. This is not great (beef is better), but it is not the worst (at least it beats pork as well as turkey).
  • The protein in chicken is high, but the fat content is lower (not overly important from a nutritional standpoint, but not everyone enjoys fat).
  • Collagen and gelatine can be extracted from chicken stock.

Cons of Chicken

  • As with pork, chicken is quite high in omega-6 fatty acids, without enough omega-3 fatty acids to balance out the ratio.
  • Chicken, like pork, is more commonly contaminated than other types of meat. This means that it must be handled and prepared with care (36, 37).

4. Turkey

​After chicken, beef and pork, this is probably the most popular meat (not counting fish).

In appearance and flavor, turkey is quite similar to chicken. It is usually eaten over the holidays. It is more "dry" than chicken meat.

The most common ways to enjoy turkey are roasted or in the form of sandwich meat.

​Turkey Nutrition Facts

The following is the ​nutrient profile from 100g of ​turkey ( 45):

​Benefits of Turkey

  • Turkey contains ample amounts of protein, vitamin B6, niacin, zinc, and selenium.
  • If your goal is to keep your calories down while getting lots of protein, you cannot beat turkey. 100 grams of turkey contains only 149 calories, while providing you with 17.5 g of protein.

Cons of Turkey

  • Contamination of turkey is relatively common (38). Extra care should be taken when preparing it.
  • Turkey in the form of sandwich meat is not too expensive, but if you actually want to buy a whole turkey for a meal, you will shell out a lot more money than you would for a chicken (of course, you do get a lot more meat as well).
  • Turkey contains 2.0 g of polyunsaturated fat. This is the highest for any meat on our list, though it is worth noting that the variance between the highest and the lowest is not that huge.

​5. Mutton and Lamb

​Have you ever wondered what the difference is between lamb and mutton?

Both are meat from sheep, but lamb comes from young sheep (under a year in age), while mutton comes from adult sheep.

​Lamb Nutrition Facts

The following is the ​nutrient profile from 100g of ​lamb ( 4​6):

​Benefits of Mutton and Lamb

  • Lamb and mutton are great sources of protein, niacin, vitamin B12, phosphorus, zinc, selenium and more.
  • The omega 3 to omega 6 ratio for this type of meat is just 1:3.2. This is a far cry better than the ratio for most other types of meat.

Cons of Mutton and Lamb

    You will pay more to eat lamb or mutton than you would for most other types of meat.

​​​​6. Venison

​Getting into meats which are less common to find on dinner tables or at the grocery store, let's talk about venison.

Venison is deer meat. While it is classified as a red meat, it has relatively little fat, and nutritionally is similar to white meat.

​Venison Nutrition Facts

The following is the ​nutrient profile from 100g of ​venison ( 4​​7):

​Benefits of Venison

  • Venison is rich in protein, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, iron, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, and other nutrients.
  • The omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is around ​1:​2, which is excellent compared to most other types of meat.
  • Venison is low in fat and calories. It is worth mentioning that it is particularly low on polyunsaturated fat, containing only 0.4 g.

Cons of Venison

    You will pay a lot of money to enjoy the taste and nutrition of venison.

Wondering why the omega fatty acid ratio is so great for venison?

It is because deer are not raised on farms. They run in the wild, and they eat natural, nutritious food. They have plenty of space to run around.

This means they not only live healthier lives, but they are a source of healthier meat.

​7. Duck

​In the West, duck is not commonly eaten, but it is very popular in China.

Duck is categorized as white meat.

​Duck Nutrition Facts

The following is the ​nutrient profile from 100g of ​duck ( 4​​​8):

​Benefits of Duck

    Duck contains ample amounts of protein, vitamin B6, iron, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, selenium, copper, and zinc.

Cons of Duck

    There is a tendency for duck to be served with Chinese sauces which may contain unwanted additives like MSG. Naturally, you can avoid this by being selective about where you order food, or by preparing your own duck.

​8. Wild Boar

Here is one type of meat which most people probably haven't tried.

If you get a chance however, you should consider it. Wild boar is a lot like pork, but it contains less fat and more protein.

​Boar Nutrition Facts

The following is the ​nutrient profile from 100g of ​boar ( 4​​​​9):

​Benefits of Wild Boar

  • Boar contains a lot of protein as well as plenty of niacin, thiamine, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
  • While the omega-3 to omega-​6 fatty acid ratio is still not fantastic, it is better than that of pork. This is because wild boar have more space and access to better food than domesticated pigs.

Cons of Wild Boar

    Trichinella spiralis may sometimes contaminate the meat of wild boar, though thankfully these cases are not common (39, 40, 41).

​9. Pheasant

​Pheasant is not all that commonly eaten, but some people do hunt and consume these birds.

​Pheasant Nutrition Facts

The following is the ​nutrient profile from 100g of ​pheasant ( ​50):

​Benefits of Pheasant​

    Pheasant is high in protein, and also offers a lot of vitamin B6, niacin, phosphorus, and selenium.

Cons of Pheasant

    Pheasant meat is typically expensive.

10. Rabbit

​I wanted to include at least one type of small game animal on this list.

Rabbit is not commonly eaten, but some people hunt for rabbits and enjoy them for dinner.

​Rabbit Nutrition Facts

The following is the ​nutrient profile from 100g of ​rabbit ( ​50):

​Benefits of Rabbit​

  • Rabbit is rich in protein, niacin, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. It is also an excellent source of vitamin B12 in particular.
  • The omega fatty acid ratio for rabbit is quite good at around 1:3.9.

Cons of Rabbit

    It can be very expensive to eat rabbit.

​​​​11. Cod

​Finally, while fish is not the focus of this article, I wanted to include at least one example so that you would have it for comparison.

Let's take a look at cod.

Cod nutrition Facts

The following is the ​nutrient profile from 100g of ​rabbit ( ​5​1):

​Benefits of Cod

  • Cod is very high in protein, and is also a good source of vitamin D, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium.
  • Unlike land meats, fatty fish have a ratio of fatty acids which favors omega-3s. 100 g of cod contains only 5 mg of omega-6 fatty acids, but contains 195 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating fish can actually help to tilt the balance in your body toward the anti-inflammatory side.
  • As fish go, cod is usually relatively inexpensive.
  • Cod has a nice light flavor which goes well with many things.

Cons of Cod

    With fish, you can get too much of a good thing. Thankfully the mercury content of cod is fairly low (compared to swordfish for example, or mackerel), but you still do not want to overdo it.

​Omega 6 to Omega 3 Fatty Acid Ratio Quick Chart

​​I have arranged this chart from the worst to the best so you can see at a glance which meats are most inflammatory and which are least.

Here are a few quick pointers and recommendations to summarize what we have learned about the nutritional profiles of all these different meats:

  • Pork is best for keeping the cost of your meals to a minimum and accessing a wide selection of meat products.
  • Wild boar is a great alternative to pork if you want a less inflammatory option, but it may be expensive and hard to come by.
  • Chicken is another good cheap alternative for your day-to-day meat needs. Chicken is light in flavor and versatile in recipes. It is also lower in fat than pork and beef.
  • Turkey roasts cost more than chicken, but turkey is light and versatile. It is low in calories and high in protein and other nutrients.
  • Beef may be fatty, but the fat in beef is actually healthy, so you can feel safe eating it. Beef costs more than chicken and pork, but the fattier cuts can cut your costs. Grass-fed beef have a much better omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.
  • Pheasant and duck and similar game birds are more expensive than chicken, but they are also significantly healthier from an omega fatty acid standpoint.
  • Rabbit is pricey, but as a small game animal, it has one of the lowest omega-6 fatty acid profiles. It helps you load up on vitamin B12.
  • Lamb, mutton and venison are all expensive, but they are very nutritious, and low on omega-6 fatty acids compared to other meats.
  • The only way you are going to get more omega-3 fatty acids than omega-6 fatty acids is to eat fish.

Hopefully that quick rundown helps you out when you are shopping for your next meal.

Conclusion: Meat is More Healthy and Nutritious Than You Might Realize, But Watch Out for Omega-6s

When I think back to the food pyramid of my childhood, I am somewhat appalled by how meat was slotted as something lesshealthy than grains.

Only sugar had a higher position on the pyramid.

These days, nutritionists know that meat is much healthier than was once believed.

On a low-carb, high-fat diet, you will probably eat a lot of meat. And that's a good thing.

You will be fulfilling your energy needs with healthy fat, and you'll get a lot of protein, vitamins and minerals along the way.

The main thing to be mindful of is the pro-inflammatory nature of meat.

When you can, try and choose meats which are not overly inflammatory. Consider favoring beef over chicken and pork.

While you are at it, add generous helpings of fish and other healthy sources of omega-3 fatty acids to your diet.

That will help to balance out those omega-6s.

Enjoy your meat, and the health benefits that come with a nutritious diet!

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog