How much red meat can you eat to remain within government guidelines?

Table 1. Average weights of commonly consumed meats

Type of meatCooked weight (g)Raw weight (g)How to measure
Lean beef mince a 100125About a quarter of a 500g pack size – use the size of pack as a guide
Beef burger a80-100 (grilled)120-150Ready portioned
Lean rump steak a130 (grilled)175About half the size of your hand
Lean diced pork a100150Use the size of pack as a guide
Lean diced lamb a100140Use the size of pack as a guide
Lean beef stewing steak100125Use the size of pack as a guide
Portion of roast meat b90130 c3 thin-cut slices of roast lamb, beef or pork, each about the size of half a slice of sliced bread
Lamp or Pork chop (edible portion) c75 (fried or grilled)110Ready portioned
Sausages (2 standard size) a90 (grilled)114Ready portioned
Bacon (2 slices) a50 (grilled)75Ready portioned
Ham (1 slice) b23N/AReady portioned

Be guided by pack size. For example if an average portion of raw weight is 125g this is a quarter of a 500g pack or around a third of a 400g pack.

a) BNF portion size guide
b) NHS website
c) WCRF Red and Processed Meat

Table 2. Suggestions of how meat combinations can represent about 500g maximum recommended intake over a week (using cooked weights) with meal suggestions

Total for the week
Combination 1
Lean beef mince Lean beef rump steak2 pork sausages (grilled)Lean diced lambPork chop (edible portion)
100g130g90g100g75g495g
Use in a Bolognese sauceCut in strips and use for fajitas with plenty of peppers, and mushroomsFor a weekend brunch with poached eggs, tomatoes and mushroomsIn a lamb kebab with pitta, salad and herby yogurt dressingUse in a tray bake, with roasted vegetables
Combination 2
Beef burger (grilled)Pork or lamb mince Lean beef steak (grilled)2 x small lamb chops (grilled)1 ham slice
100g100g130g140g23g493g
Served with sweet potato wedges and reduced fat or yogurt dressed coleslawIn meatballs in a tomato sauce (e.g. made with canned chopped tomatoes & herbs) with rice or pastaServed with homemade chips, grilled tomatoes and peasServed with quinoa or couscous, mint leaves, chickpeas and broccoliIn wholegrain bread, with mustard and plenty of salad
Combination 3
Lean lamb mince Roast beef2 bacon slices (grilled)Beef stewing steakLean pork loin steak
100g90g50g100g120g460g
In a potato topped pie or MoussakaFor a Sunday lunchIn wholegrain bread, with lettuce and tomato, and a small amount of reduced fat mayoIn a beef, bean and vegetable stewThinly sliced in a stir fry with noodles and vegetables

The portion sizes given are averages for healthy adults, based on a daily calorie allowance of 2000kcal – the amount estimated for an average, healthy weight adult woman. A smaller person or people trying to lose weight, may need smaller portions. If hand measures are used like in the example of rump steak, portion sizes will vary with the size of a person’s hands and so generally, bigger people will get bigger portions and smaller people will get smaller portions.

The current UK Government advice is that individuals who are high consumers of red and processed meat, in other words who eat more than 90g (cooked weight) per day, cut down to 70g (this equates to approximately 500g a week), as high intakes are associated with an increased risk of colorectal (bowel) cancer. This is in the context of a healthy, balanced diet containing plenty of plant-based foods such as wholegrains, vegetables and fruit.

For high consumers of red and processed meat, NHS suggest the recommendations can be met by eating smaller portions of red and processed meat, eating these meats less often or swapping them for meat alternatives or beans and pulses.

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Last updated 5th March 2021 @ 11:05 am