T Nation

Turkey

All right, let’s see if we can figure something out together. We all have heard about turkey being one of the leanest protein sources out there. The problem is that the turkey to which they (whoever “they” are) are always referring is the high sodium, overprocessed stuff you can buy at the deli. And, as Berardi’s most recent articles have reiterated, this ain’t the good stuff!

So, what about Thanksgiving style turkey? One look at the nutritional label tells us that it isn’t so lean, with roughly 8-9g of fat (much of it saturated) per 3 oz. serving. Is this fat figure a weighted average that includes both the dark meat and skin along with the traditionally healthier white meat? Or, is the whole damn bird just one big artery clogger?

I’ve always seen those Perdue turkey cutlets in the grocery store. The labels on them assert that they’re pretty lean. Any thought?

The reason I ask is that I’ve always loved the stuff. Plus, if cooking a whole bird and then just eating the white meat yields a good, lean protein source, then we can all save some cash. After all, the stuff is always less than 50 cents a pound. Plus, you get a ton of meat and don’t have to worry about cooking for a few days.

So what does everyone think? Thanksgiving style? Specific kinds of deli (low sodium, all natural)? Cutlets? Avoid at all costs? How do YOU fit turkey into YOUR diet?

As far as I can tell, the nutritional labels on whole birds are weighted averages. But you know quite well that the white breast meat has much less fat then the dark meat. Stick with the white meat and you have a very lean complete protein source. A little dark meat won’t hurt you either, but mix it in with a P&F meal and try to go with free-range poultry.

You know the breast has less fat in it because it is always the first part to get dry when cooking the bird on Thanksgiving. The fatter parts of the bird, stay nice and moist unless you leave it in the oven for a couple of days.

Ground turkey patties! yumm! The stuff I buy has about 19-20 g protein/ 100g (4 oz) & only about 3.5 g fat (according to the nutritional content label) I make up a bunch of 6 oz patties to keep for the week, also use it in spaghetti sauces, etc. Also, a take- out place near my office boils turkey breasts every day to make sandwiches, so if I’m unprepared I can go there & get a turkey on multi-grain (dry) and ditch 1 slice of the sandwich. He serves about 4-5 oz of sliced, boiled breast meat.

I buy a whole turkey rub it with cajun seasoning roast it then seperate all meat out into about 6 even piles and package and freeze them seperately.

The whole turkey you are referring to has it’s macronutrients averaged out to include both dark and white meat and skin as well. The skin is mostly fat so if you eliminate that you eliminate a good portion of the fat. Personally what I do every once in a while is just purchase a whole turkey breast and cook it just like a thanksgiving turkey then slice it up. It’s a good lean high protein source and quite convenient.

Thanks for the suggestions. Interestingly, I was just at the grocery store, so I thought I’d check out the weighted average question. On one of the Perdue labels, it said the serving size was 4 oz. and that each serving had 9g of fat. More interestingly, though, was the “**” next to the 9g figure. You look down below to see what it indicates, and read “Amount in white meat.” In other words, the 9g doesn’t even include all the skin and dark meat! I wonder if good ol’ Frank is soaking the stuff in vegetable oil…Anyway, I’m going to look around online for some nutritional information that sorts things out specifically. I’ll post whatever I find. Thanks again.

I second most if not all of the above…ground turkey breast or extra lean ground turkey, turkey breast cutlets, and a whole turkey breast for roasting are all excellent lean protein sources, probably some of the leanest…the only land animal that’s leaner than turkey boobs would be rabbit, I think.

Kraig, tell me more about this cajun rub…I’m always looking for ways to spice it up…no pun intended.

“8-9g of fat (much of it saturated) per 3 oz. serving.”

Please think about this statement for a second and do the math

I use this on everything and I usually quadruple these amounts.

5 T paprika

1/4 cup salt

1/4 cup garlic powder

2 T black pepper

2 T onion powder

2 T Cayenne pepper

2 T dried oregano

2 T dried thyme

T = Tablespoon

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do! KraigY

Some companies (I think Butterball is one) inject the breasts of turkeys with fat in order to make them juicier. That might acccount for the higher amounts of fat you see in some brands of turkey.


I really like turkey patties. Just gotta be careful to get the stuff that doesn’t have the skin ground into it.

I don’t see anything out of whack with that reasoning. It indicates that there is roughly 3g of fat per ounce, which certainly wouldn’t be inappropriate for many meats. Take corned beef brisket, for example, which has 16g of fat per 3 oz. serving. If I’m missing something, please let me know. Not to get off topic, but I think that you’re the one who needs to check his math.

What do you use for your macronutrient breakdown when putting it in your diet log? I’m looking at some stats here that say 4.5g fat and 219 calories for 5 oz. of generic, roasted, white meat only (no skin) stuff. Sound about right? I’m thinking that the secret is to make sure that you don’t get some kind that is pre-basted in butter, sugar, or other garbage. Thanks for the thoughts.

The average turkey breast (skinless) has 1 gram of fat per ounce, some as low as .2 grams, saturated fat is negligible. Instead of going out and buying a whole turkey, go out and buy a couple of breasts, most grocery stores carry them or can get them. You can then cut them into steaks and grill them as you would a chicken breast.

Careful T.O.T-bro, your Turkey has almost 30% of CALORIES from fat! 19-20 grams of protein + 3.5grams of fat = about 105-110 calories and 31.5 come from fat! Far from lean turkey. LEAN turket should have 25-28g of PRO per 1-1.5g fat.

When you turn the fat into a percentage of total calories, I agree 30+% does sound high. I basically just count my fat grams for the day & don’t worry a whole lot about the % per serving. As I re-read the other postings, it does seem pretty average, tho. Ko says average for skinless breast is 1g fat/ oz, which translates to 3.6g/ 100g if my math is correct, so my brand’s on the average mark. Using Ko’s low end of the range (.2g/oz= .72g/ 100g) & sticking to my 19g protein, fat’s down to about 8%. Quite a spread! Take home lesson? Scrutinize those content labels! Thanks for the ‘heads up’.

I think the “injections” are the main problem. They usually list a 6-10% solution consisting of salt, sugar, sodium phosphate, and other natural flavors. By natural flavors, I wonder if they mean a buttload of saturated fats?

They don’t call it a Butterball for nothing. I agree with some of the other posters to just buy a frozen breast and cook it. I do that sometimes but not as often as I should. The frozen breast is really the prime white low fat meat minus all the “bad” stuff. The dark meat in the wings, thighs, and legs has more fat then the white breast meat but the skin is the real culprit, that is next to the injected butterball solution you mentioned. The frozen breasts I’ve bought don’t appear to be injected with the butterball solution like they do in a whole turkey. With a whole turkey, the problem is the injected butterball solution and the skin (of course along with the oily dark meat).

When you cook a whole turkey, skin on, the fat from the skin will transfer into the breast, thus a moist turkey breast. 1oz of roasted turkey breast, skin on has 2 g of fat and .6 g saturated fat. Lose the skin and everything should be fine.