Mayo Clinic Health Library

Exchange list: Meat and meat substitutes

Updated: 09-25-2012

Most meats and meat substitutes are good sources of protein. One serving (exchange) of meat or meat substitute contains about 7 grams of protein. Check the product label to see how much fat and how many calories each product contains.

  • Lean meat. One serving contains 0 to 3 grams of fat and 100 calories.
  • Medium-fat meat. One serving contains 4 to 7 grams of fat and 130 calories.
  • High-fat meat. One serving contains 8 or more grams of fat and 150 calories.

Meats and meat substitutes in the amounts listed below equal one meat exchange.

Type Food Serving size
Lean meat and meat substitutes    
  Beef, select or choice, trimmed of fat: ground round, roast, round, sirloin, tenderloin 1 ounce
Beef jerky 1/2 ounce
Cheese, 3 grams or less of fat per ounce 1 ounce
Cottage cheese, fat-free, low-fat or regular 1/4 cup
Egg substitutes, plain 1/4 cup
Egg whites 2
Fish, fresh or frozen: catfish, cod, flounder, haddock, halibut, orange roughy, salmon, tilapia, trout, tuna 1 ounce
Herring, smoked 1 ounce
Hot dog, 3 grams or less of fat per ounce (Note: May also contain carbohydrate) 1
Lamb: roast, chop, leg 1 ounce
Luncheon meat, 3 grams or less of fat per ounce: chipped beef, deli thin-sliced meats, turkey ham, turkey kielbasa, turkey pastrami 1 ounce
Oysters, medium, fresh or frozen 6
Pork, lean: Canadian bacon, chop, ham, tenderloin 1 ounce
Poultry without skin: chicken, Cornish hen, duck, goose, turkey 1 ounce
Sardines, canned 2 medium
Shellfish: clams, crab, imitation shellfish, lobster, scallops, shrimp 1 ounce
Tuna, canned in water or oil, drained 1 ounce
Veal: loin chop, roast 1 ounce
Wild game: buffalo, ostrich, rabbit, venison 1 ounce
Medium-fat meat and meat substitutes    
  Beef: corned beef, ground beef, meatloaf, prime rib, short ribs, tongue 1 ounce
Cheese, 4 to 7 grams of fat per ounce: feta, mozzarella, pasteurized processed cheese spread, reduced-fat cheeses, string 1 ounce
Eggs (limit to 3 a week) 1
Fish, fried 1 ounce
Lamb: ground, rib roast 1 ounce
Pork: cutlet, shoulder roast 1 ounce
Poultry: chicken with skin, dove, fried chicken, ground turkey, pheasant, wild duck or goose 1 ounce
Ricotta cheese 1/4 cup (2 ounces)
Sausage, 4 to 7 grams of fat per ounce 1 ounce
Veal, cutlet, no breading 1 ounce
   
High-fat meats and meat substitutes    
  Bacon, pork 2 slices (1 ounce each before cooking)
Bacon, turkey 3 slices (1/2 ounce each before cooking)
Cheese, regular: American, bleu, Brie, cheddar, hard goat, Monterey Jack, queso, Swiss 1 ounce
Hot dog, regular: beef, chicken, pork, turkey or combination 1 (Note: Count as 1 fat and 1 meat exchange.)
Luncheon meat, 8 or more grams of fat per ounce: bologna, pastrami, hard salami 1 ounce
Pork: ground, sausage, spareribs 1 ounce
Sausage, 8 or more grams of fat per ounce: bratwurst, chorizo, Italian, knockwurst, Polish, smoked, summer 1 ounce

Modified with permission from "Choose Your Foods: Exchange Lists for Diabetes." American Diabetes Association and American Dietetic Association; 2008. While designed primarily for people who have diabetes and others who must follow special diets, the exchange lists are based on principles of good nutrition that apply to everyone.

Remember these guidelines for including meat and meat substitutes in your diet:

  • Choose lean meat when you can. It's lower in saturated fat, cholesterol and calories.
  • Weigh the meat after cooking and after removing bone, skin and excess fat. A 3-ounce portion of cooked meat is equal to about 4 ounces of raw meat. A 3-ounce portion of cooked meat is about the size of a deck of cards.
  • Roast, broil or grill meat on a rack that allows fat to drain off the meat. If you must fry foods, use a nonstick frying pan and nonstick vegetable spray.
  • If you use fats in cooking, count them as part of your daily fat allowance.
  • If you use flour, batter, crackers, bread crumbs or cereal to prepare meat dishes, count them as part of your daily carbohydrate allowance. Three tablespoons of one of these starches contain about 15 grams of carbohydrate and are considered one carbohydrate exchange.

Many plant-based proteins also serve as meat substitutes, although they may count as both meat and carbohydrate exchanges. Check the food label for details.

Food Serving size Exchange value
Baked beans 1/3 cup 1 carbohydrate plus 1 lean meat
Beans, cooked: black, garbanzo, kidney, lima, navy, pinto, white 1/2 cup 1 carbohydrate plus 1 lean meat
Edamame 1/2 cup 1/2 carbohydrate plus 1 lean meat
Hummus 1/3 cup 1 carbohydrate plus 1 high-fat meat
Lentils, cooked: brown, green, yellow 1/2 cup 1 carbohydrate plus 1 lean meat
Peanut butter 1 tablespoon 1 high-fat meat
Peas, cooked: black-eyed, split, green 1/2 cup 1 carbohydrate plus 1 lean meat
Refried beans, canned 1/2 cup 1 carbohydrate plus 1 lean meat
Soy-based "chicken" nuggets 2 (1 1/2 ounces) 1/2 carbohydrate plus 1 medium-fat meat
Soy-based hot dog 1 (1 1/2 ounces) 1/2 carbohydrate plus 1 lean meat
Soy-based "sausage" patties 1 (1 1/2 ounces) 1 medium-fat meat
Soy burger 1 (3 ounces) 1/2 carbohydrate plus 2 lean meats
Soy nuts, unsalted 1 1/2 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) 1/2 carbohydrate plus 1 medium-fat meat
Tempeh 3/4 cup 1 medium-fat meat
Tofu, light 1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1 lean meat
Tofu, regular 1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1 medium-fat meat

Modified with permission from "Choose Your Foods: Exchange Lists for Diabetes." American Diabetes Association and American Dietetic Association; 2008. While designed primarily for people who have diabetes and others who must follow special diets, the exchange lists are based on principles of good nutrition that apply to everyone.

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