Which is healthier: a hamburger made from 75 percent lean ground beef or one made from 95 percent extra-lean ground beef?
Both sound fairly lean, but let’s check the numbers. Let’s start with two uncooked hamburger patties, each weighing 4 ounces (a quarter pound). The uncooked 75 percent lean patty has about 330 calories, 28 grams of fat and 18 grams of protein. The uncooked 95 percent lean patty has about 155 calories, 6 grams of fat and 24 grams of protein. As you can see, the leaner beef has more protein, but far fewer calories and much less fat than an equal weight of the less lean beef. (The leaner patty is also higher in water and a little lower in cholesterol.)
Cooking results in a loss of weight (and nutrients) in both patties, as the drippings fall away. The 75 percent lean patty, which drops from 4 ounces to about 2.5 ounces after cooking, will now contain 195 calories, 13 grams of fat and 18 grams of protein. After cooking, the 95 percent lean patty, which drops to about 3 ounces in weight, has about 140 calories, 5 grams of fat and 22 grams of protein.
The bottom line: The burger made from the 95 percent lean meat will provide a 17 percent bigger cooked patty that contains 28 percent fewer calories, 58 percent less fat and 22 percent more protein than the 75 percent lean meat burger. In other words, when you start with extra-lean meat you end up with a bigger burger with a lot fewer calories and less fat—a win-win-win.