Is Beef The Best Protein?

With the popularity of the carnivore diet increasing, it proposes the question- is beef the superior meat? & if so, how would we even quantify that?

When you look at a nutrition label, all you will see is protein in grams right? So it can give this misconception that all proteins have the same quality, but we know this isn’t the case.

There are vast differences between plant and animal sources. This is due to the amino acids that make up the food and its bioavailability (the bodies ability to absorb and use).

It is not new news that animal sources are better quality than plant proteins as they provide the human body with complete proteins (all of the 9 essential amino acids). This, however, does not mean stay away from plant sources. Plant-based protein sources provide tons of nutrition and if combined correctly, it can provide all the EAAs, like in meat. But… this still doesn’t mean they are as bioavailable compared to animal sources.

There are several measuring techniques to determining the quality of protein by assessing its essential amino acid composition, digestibility, and bioavailability.

To name a few tests:

  • Protein efficient ratio 
  • DIAAS (digestible and indispensable amino acid score)
  • PDCAAS (protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score)
  • Biological value 

When we look at the data from the tests above these are the top 3 results based on their scores-

  1. Cow’s milk 
  2. Eggs
  3. Beef

However, that’s just one part of the picture. We also must take into account the micronutrient load as well. 

Let’s compare-

Beef vs Eggs

  • Beef is higher in B12, B3, B6, Iron, Magnesium and Zinc
  • Eggs are richer in Copper, Choline, B2, selenium
  • Beef has lower cholesterol (although this isn’t a contributor to health issues like once thought)
  • Beef is more of a concentrated source of protein 

Beef vs Milk 

  • Beef is more of a concentrated source of protein
  • Milk has a higher PDCAAS and DIAAS score 
  • Milk may cause digestive distress via lactose. 
*However, Greek yogurt contains probiotics that assist in breaking down the sugar lactose and individuals who have lactose intolerance typically will do fine with greek yogurt. 
  • Beef contains more Vitamin B12, Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin B3, Iron, Vitamin B6, Phosphorus, and Choline than in milk
  • Milk contains more Calcium, Vit D, and Vit D

In my professional opinion, the slight edge goes to beef. Based on its high test scores, protein concentration, micronutrient make up, and the variability it has in meals. 

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