In the second of this series I’m going to look at the main sources of animal protein: meat, fish and eggs. When you’re counting calories in these groups quite often the items come in ready prepared portions, for example, a steak, a chicken breast, or a fish fillet and it is easy to estimate the calories based on an average figure, and then to judge whether your item is larger or smaller than average.
Many meats do come pre-packed these days and often give you a guide to the calories on the front of the packets which makes life easier, or at the very least you know the weight of the entire packet.
For those items where you can’t tell the weight, or have no calorie information I suggest you keep a small set of electronic scales and a pocket calculator in the kitchen, together with a pencil and notepad so that you always have the tools at hand to calculate calories for those awkward items.
Below I have referred to what I consider to be the most common items in this category, but this can still be used as a guide for other cuts of meat. Compare the size or weight of the meat, and whether it appears to have more or less fat than the suggested cut. Generally the bigger the cut, and the fattier it is, the more calories it has, and red meat has more calories than white meat. Again, ranges of calories have been suggested below to allow for natural variation in the cuts of meat.
Roast beef – 2 large slices : 180-250
Sirloin steak 200g (8oz) : 400-450
Beef mince (ground beef) 125g (packets are normally 250g or 500g) : 240-300
Stewing/casserole steak 125g (packets are normally 250g or 500g) : 150-200
Roast lamb – 2 large slices : 190-240
1 Lamb chop : 130-200
Lamb mince 125g (ground lamb) : 250-290
Roast pork – 2 large slices : 180-260
2 pork sausages : 240-340
2 slices of back bacon : 120-150
2 large slices of ham : 40-100
Roast chicken, 2/3 breast with skin : 220-250
Roast chicken, leg with skin : 260-290
1 Chicken breast, no skin : 150-220
1 Chicken thigh, no skin : 120-160
1 Chicken wing : 70-100
• Turkey calories are slightly lower than that of chicken as the meat is even leaner. I suggest you use the chicken calories and knock off 50 calories for your turkey portion.
• Duck is slightly higher in calories than chicken due to the fat content so I suggest you use the chicken calories and add 50 calories for your duck portion.
• If you include/exclude the skin on any of the above cuts, for chicken, turkey, or duck don’t forget to make a small adjustment to the calories to compensate
Salmon fillet : 250
Tuna steak : 120-250 (these differ widely in size!)
White fish fillet (i.e. cod) : 80-120
Tin of tuna : 150
Tin of pilchards/sardines : 250
Prawns 100g : 70-90
One medium egg : 80-100
Don’t forget, if you use a cooking method that involves using extra oil or butter, this will add calories to your dish. If you want to minimise these calories, bake or grill your meat, or fry using an oil spray instead of spoonfuls of oil.