Lean animal proteins are a great way to fuel your work day and your workouts. But what kinds of animal proteins will support the m.e.l.t. diet?  Well, I can tell you right off that bacon does not make the cut–sad, but true. But wipe those tears–there are plenty of other delicious options out there!

Animal proteins will probably be the most expensive part of your grocery budget. Overcooking protein is like sending your hard-earned dollars down the drain. The best way to avoid overcooking  is to use an instant-read thermometer–it is the cheapest ($10) and easiest way to cook tender, juicy animal proteins every time! No kitchen should be without one.

Here’s a quick rundown of some protein options that you may not have considered lately.

  1. Organic Eggs:  Yeah, you all know how I love my eggs! They are probably the most versatile and CHEAPEST protein out there. They can be served hard-boiled, scrambled, sauteed in a bit of good fat, in a crustless vegetable quiche, baked–the possibilities are just about endless. And they can cover your protein needs all day long–breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Studies have proven that eggs do not elevate cholesterol levels, so enjoy them every day if you like. I recommend you eat them at a ratio of 2 egg whites :: 1 egg yolk to get an optimal protein/fat balance.
    → Serving size:  1-3 eggs/day for women;  2-6 eggs/day for men
  2. Wild-Caught Ocean Fish:  Always make sure you consume fish that have grown in the open waters, eating a natural diet. They are better for you than fish that have been raised in overcrowded, dirty, stagnant water pens being fed who-knows-what. Not to mention that they will simply taste better, and have firmer flesh. Yes, they will be more expensive per pound, but you still can buy frozen wild-caught fish at reasonable prices. What kind of fish should you consider? The possibilities seem endless: salmon, cod, tuna, sardines, Pacific flounder/sole, butterfish, tilapia, trout, swai, scallops, shrimp, & lobster (oh baby–just limit that butter!) are all fantastic choices. Using marinades and making sure not to overcook the fish are key components to getting maximum flavor out of each serving. Cook finned fish to a temperature of 145 degrees or until it is opaque and flakes easily. Cook scallops, shrimp, & lobster until opaque.
    Serving size: size of your clenched fist
  3. Beef & Bison:  Beef and grass-fed bison are hearty and delicious protein choices. But there are a bewildering number of beef cuts to choose from! The leanest cuts of beef you can get are:
    – Eye of round roast or steak.
    – Sirloin tip side steak.
    – Top round roast and steak.
    – Bottom round roast and steak.
    – Top sirloin steak.
    Because these cuts are lowest in fat, they will need a good marinade or spice rub to help bring out the tenderness and flavor of the meat. The fatty cuts such as prime rib (which should be saved for very special cheat meals!) need nothing more than salt and pepper to shine. Beef is different from other animal proteins in that it is served in varying degrees of doneness: rare, medium, & well. The USDA recommends cooking to an internal temp of 145 degrees with a 3-minute rest. You can enjoy ground beef or bison as long as the package states it is 93% lean; cook the ground meat to a temperature of 160 degrees..
    → Serving size: size of your clenched fist
  4. Organic Poultry: Whether they are grilled, sauteed, or baked, skinless, boneless chicken (or turkey) breasts are most folk’s dietary standby.   And same as any other animal protein, the key to bringing out maximum flavor and tenderness is to marinate poultry well and cook carefully. A simple buttermilk marinade will give you the tenderest, most juicy breasts you can imagine–give it a try!  Boneless chicken breasts should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Turkey breasts, usually sold bone-in, should be cooked to the same temperature. You can also enjoy ground chicken or turkey as long as the package states that it is 93% lean; cook the ground meat until no pink remains or to a temperature of 165 degrees.
    → Serving size: size of your open palm
  5. Pork Tenderloin: Pork has certainly had a makeover in the last few decades. It’s become so lean that pork tenderloin is actually lower in total fat, per 3-oz serving, (2.98 grams vs. 3.03 grams) than a skinless chicken breast!  The trick to great pork tenderloin is to always give it a spice rub or marinade it and not overcook. Trichinosis, an infection long associated with pork, can’t survive temperatures over 145, so cook the meat to 145 and let it rest under foil for 5 minutes (the temperature will continue to rise to 150-155) before you cut into it.
    → Serving size: size of your clenched fist