Blog: Effective Eating

Question: When I was in the grocery store yesterday, I noticed that there was Ground Turkey and Ground Turkey Breast. Which one is better?

Answer: That is a great question. Before I can answer it, I must first share with you the formula for determining how much fat is in a specific food. The reason for this is that many food labels are deceptive in the terms that they use to describe what is actually in the food. For example, look at the label in Figure 1.

The label states that it is “Lean” and “7% Fat”.
Sounds like a great source of lean protein, right?

According to the labeling laws, the word “lean” is defined as any food that has 8 grams of fat or less per serving. However, there is no limit or standard to the serving size. Do you see the problem with this definition?

An extremely high fat food can be labeled as “lean” because the manufacturer can whittle down the serving size to virtually nothing.

Also, when a food is labeled as 7% fat that means it is 7% fat by weight. Who on this planet measures fat by weight? We measure food in calories and grams. To cut through the crap you can use a simple formula. The Fat Formula is:

Calories from Fat ÷ Total Calories = % Calories from Fat

*Any food that comes in as 30% or less calories from fat is a good choice.

Figure 1: Notice that it says it is “LEAN” and “7% Fat”. Obviously a healthy choice or is it?

Figure 2: Ground Turkey Nutrition Facts

Let’s use the Fat Formula to determine the calories from fat.

As you can see above:

Calories from Fat = 70
Calories = 160

Therefore, 70 ÷ 160 = .4375 or approximately 44% Calories from fat. Not a good choice. In fact, it is about as lean as some ground hamburger meat. The label stated it was 7% fat (by weight) not fat by composition. The point to take home here is that you can not always believe the label.

Figure 3: Ground Turkey BREAST – “Extra Lean” & “99% Fat Free”?

Figure 4: Ground Turkey BREAST Nutrition Facts

As you can see above:

Calories from Fat = 15
Calories = 120

15 divided by 120 is 12.5% calories from fat.

While that is far below the 30% and an obvious great choice as a lean source of protein, the label stated that it was “99% fat free”.

As for which one is better for you depends on your goal. If you are looking to reduce your fat intake then Ground Turkey Breast is the best option. However, if you are on a lower carbohydrate eating plan then the extra fat in the ground turkey may be a better alternative. For most individuals, the Ground Turkey BREAST is the way to go.