Even raw, it’s hard to look at a big steak without wanting to bite right into it. Some primal instinct is heightened, and the caveman in all of us gets hungry. Numerous studies, though, have linked red meat—unfairly, in our estimation—to everything from heart disease to prostate cancer.

The problem? Most of this research uses data from the sedentary general population to create dietary guidelines for the rest of us, including serious athletes and bodybuilders. The most salient point, however, remains: Lean or even slightly fatty red meat is a key component of a muscle-building diet.

The Lowdown on Red Meat

One eight-ounce strip steak packs 52 grams of protein to just 6 grams of fat. That’s a fantastic ratio, and the whole thing packs just 265 calories.

Red meat contains 15 mg of niacin per half pound. Also known as vitamin B3, niacin has been shown to heighten vasos, dilation, or the expansion of blood vessels, and increase HDL or “good” cholesterol.

Go for “grass-finished” beef whenever you can find it. Cattle that eat an all-grass diet have higher levels of healthy omega-3 fats than those that eat corn. “Grass-fed” is a usually reliable label to look for, but some farmers take advantage and use it to define cattle that start on grass but spend most of their lives eating corn.

Beef is an excellent source of:

  • Zinc, which increases sperm count and is crucial to prostate health
  • Iron, a key component of oxygen delivery within your cells
  • Selenium, which can give your immune system a boost against illnesses

Our Favorite Red Meat Recipes

Grilled Herb Flank Steak >>
Spice-Crusted Hanger Steak >>
Fat Loss Flank Steak >>
Chopped Steak With Mushroom Sauce >>