3 oz Ground Beef Protein by Percentage

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTPublished: March 30, 2023

Ground beef is a relatively inexpensive and flavorful protein source worth adding to any bodybuilding meal plan.

But just how much protein is in ground beef depends on the leanness of the meat you buy. So read on to find out everything you need to know about ground beef protein and nutrition.

3 oz Ground Beef Protein

Ground Beef Percentages

As you probably know, ground beef contains chopped-up bits of cow muscle and fatty tissue. And the relative leanness is indicated by a percentage on the package.

By law, ground beef must contain at least 70% lean meat and no more than 30% fat. But the lean content can go as high as 97% with just 3% fat.

Therefore, ground beef can have different nutritional values depending on its leanness. The chart below shows the protein in 3 oz of ground beef at various percentages.

3 oz Ground Beef Protein Fat

As you can see, the grams of protein increase with the lean percentage of ground beef. Conversely, the grams of fat decrease with the increasing lean percentage.

You’ll also notice that the total height of each bar gets shorter as the beef gets leaner, like a visual representation of the total calorie content.

3 oz Ground Beef Protein

The table below shows the grams of protein and fat in 3 ounces of ground beef by percentage. In addition, the third column shows the total calorie content for each lean point.

Table 1. 3 oz Ground Beef Protein by Percentage
Percent Lean Protein Fat Calories
70% 12.2g 25.3g 276
75% 13.4g 21.2g 244
80% 14.6g 17.0g 211
85% 15.8g 12.8g 178
90% 17.0g 8.5g 144
93% 17.6g 5.9g 124
95% 18.2g 4.3g 111
97% 18.7g 2.6g 98

3 Oz Ground Beef Protein (75% Lean)

Three ounces of 75/25 ground beef contains 13.4 grams of protein and 21.2 grams of fat. Unfortunately, that fat adds up to 244 calories in a relatively small serving.

According to Swanson Meats in Minneapolis, MN, most restaurant hamburgers are right around 75% lean. That’s what makes them taste so juicy and flavorful.

However, you probably don’t want to consume that much saturated fat on a regular basis because it’s not good for your health.

3 Oz Ground Beef Protein (80% Lean)

By comparison, three ounces of 80/20 ground beef contains 12.8 grams of protein with 17 grams of fat. And the calorie content comes in at around 211 per 3 oz serving.

80/20 ground beef is one of the most popular varieties sold in supermarkets because it doesn’t cost as much as leaner beef. And it works great for backyard barbeques because the fat holds the beef patties together during cooking without being overly greasy.

But 20% fat is still on the high side for everyday cooking.

3 oz Ground Beef Protein Guide

3 Oz Ground Beef Protein (85% Lean)

On average, three ounces of 85/15 ground beef contains 15.8 grams of protein with 12.8 grams of fat. Based on calories per gram of protein and fat, that equates to around 178 calories per 3 oz.

With a good balance of nutrients and cost, 85% ground beef is a relatively healthy option for anything from burgers to flavorful casseroles. In addition, the nutrient profile is similar to what you would get from a sirloin steak.

3 Oz Ground Beef Protein (90% Lean)

Finally, three ounces of 90/10 ground beef contains 17 grams of protein with 8.5 grams of fat. With that decreased fat content, 90% lean ground beef has just 144 calories per 3 ounces.

Therefore, 90/10 ground beef or leaner is the best option for those on a low-calorie or high-protein diet.

Related: Calculate Your Ideal Protein Intake

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Grass Fed vs. Grain Fed Beef

When buying ground beef, you’ll often be confronted with choosing between regular (grain-fed) and grass-feed options. So I want to quickly touch on some factors that can influence your decision.

First, the main difference between grass-fed and grain-fed beef is what the cows eat. True grass-fed cows graze in pastures on their natural diet of grasses. In contrast, any other beef is fed a mixture of grains.

Another thing you’ll notice is that grass-fed beef generally costs anywhere from 5% to 50% more, depending on the brand. The reason is that grass-fed beef takes longer to reach processing weight, which results in more labor costs for farmers.

In terms of nutrition, grass-fed beef is typically leaner than grain-fed. However, when buying ground beef, the amount of protein and fat is dictated by the lean point and, therefore, the same for both types.

However, the compounds within the fat are different between grass-fed and grain-fed beef. For example, grass-fed fat has more omega-3 and fewer omega-6 fatty acids, which is considered better for your health.

There is also the debate about which type of beef production is better for the environment. But that’s a whole other blog post in itself!

Even with all this in mind, knowing precisely what you’re buying is still challenging due to loopholes in regulations and labeling. So make sure you read the labels carefully and educate yourself about what you put in your body.

3 oz Ground Beef Protein Grass Fed vs Grain Fed

Protein in 3 oz Ground Beef vs. Other Sources

Lean ground beef can be a good source of protein. But how does it compare to other popular meats like chicken, salmon, and pork?

The table below shows the protein content of 3 oz of ground beef compared to equivalent amounts of other meats.

Table 2. 3 oz Ground Beef Protein vs. Other Sources (3 oz each)
  Protein Fat Calories Protein:Calories
Skinless Chicken Breast 19.1g 2.3g 97 0.790
Skinless Chicken Thigh 16.5g 6.0g 120 0.550
93% Ground Turkey 15.9g 7.1g 127 0.500
Pork Chop 17.5g 8.0g 142 0.495
90% Ground Beef 17.0g 8.5g 144 0.470
Atlantic Salmon 17.3g 11.4g 172 0.402
Sirloin Steak 16.9g 12.2g 177 0.382
85% Ground Beef 15.8g 12.8g 178 0.354
80% Ground Beef 14.6g 17.0g 211 0.276

The table above makes it easier to see that you must buy leaner ground beef to get a nutrition profile close to something like salmon or pork chops.

In addition, I sorted the table by the protein-to-calorie ratio. This number represents the calories from protein divided by the total calories. So the higher the number, the more efficient the protein source.

The graphic below illustrates how higher-fat ground beef is not as efficient a source of protein compared to leaner meats because the fat content makes it more calorie-dense.

Ground Beef Protein Comparison Chart

More High Protein Food Nutrition Facts

Now you know how much protein is in various lean points of ground beef. And you’ve seen how it compares to other protein sources in terms of calories and nutrition.

You also got a snapshot of the nutrition facts for some other high-protein foods. But like ground beef, protein content can vary depending on the type of meat you purchase.

So check out these related articles to learn more about the nutrition in your favorite foods.

Steak Protein by Cut of Meat

Salmon Protein by Species

Pork Chop Protein per Ounce

Chicken Thigh Protein Boneless vs Bone-In

Chicken Breast Protein With or Without Skin

If you’re up to speed on the macros and calories in meats, then check out some of my other fitness-related content below!

Pork Chop Protein Per Ounce

Find out how much protein is in the pork chop you're about to eat. Plus learn how protein content varies between cuts of pork.

Share with your community and get the conversation started!

By |March 30, 2023|Nutrition|0 Comments
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