Ground Turkey vs Ground Beef – Which Is Healthier For Bodybuilding?

Share this article:

If you’re like me, your bodybuilding and health journeys started around the same time. When you start looking into your nutrition, you can’t help but consider your overall health as well. Sometimes it is hard to choose which type of meat, as they all have different levels of macronutrients.

One thing is for sure; if you are bodybuilding, you will need a lot of high-quality protein in your daily diet. Ground Turkey and Ground Beef are ubiquitous in the fitness world, but which is healthier?

While both options are great sources of protein, when standardized in lean to fat ratio, Ground Beef has more a slight edge over Ground Turkey in protein content (28.88 grams of protein per 9.51 grams of fat vs 27.1 grams of protein per 11.6 grams of fat). Ground Turkey is available in a 99% Fat-Free option, while Ground Beef is not. This 99% Fat-Free option beats Ground Beef in protein content (28.99 grams per serving vs 28.88 grams per serving). While this advantage is small, Ground Beef is red meat, which increases the risk for Heart Disease. Ground Turkey is white meat, which poses less risk to Heart Disease.

Why Ground Turkey?

A bowl with ground turkey in it.

As scientific studies reveal the dangers of red meat, Ground Turkey has grown in popularity as a healthier option. Ground Turkey is a white meat that carries less flavor than Ground Beef. Ground Turkey is lower in saturated fat (2.966 grams per serving vs. 3.897 grams per serving), making it a popular choice for bodybuilders looking to cut their fat and achieve a defined look.

What Makes Turkey Different?

Turkey is well known for containing L-tryptophan, an Essential Amino Acid. Essential Amino Acids are building blocks that the body needs, but cannot make on its own. One of these Essential Amino Acids, L-tryptophan, may promote serotonin levels which are thought to regulate mood, happiness, anxiety, digestion, sleep, and bone health.

Turkey has an advantage over beef in this regard because digestion and sleep are essential for bodybuilding. Turkey is also higher than beef in Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which can help prevent depression, anxiety, and inflammation.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids also improve sleep, bone and joint health, and skin health.

Why Ground Beef?

A high-quality protein, Ground Beef has long been a staple in the bodybuilding community. While other options are gaining popularity, Ground Beef isn’t going anywhere. Many people prefer the taste of ground beef and find that the nutritional differences are negligible.

Ground Beef does present a few unique health benefits, boasting higher vitamin B12, Zinc, and Iron content. Lean Beef is available, but it does not get as lean as turkey.

Ground TurkeyGround Beef
99% Fat-Free Option AvailableNo Fat Free Options
Light, Versatile TasteFlavorful, Full Taste
Higher in CalciumHigher in B12, Zinc, Iron
Higher in Omega-3 Fatty AcidsHigher Calories Per Ounce
Ground Turkey vs. Ground Beef

The Problem With Ground Beef

A batch of 3 ground beef patties.

Ground Beef is red meat. This means it falls into the category of meats that can increase risk factors for heart disease. If your family has a history of heart disease, or you are at risk for heart disease, you may want to look into Ground Turkey as an alternative to Ground Beef.

This isn’t to say that Ground Beef will certainly cause you to develop heart disease, and some studies have even challenged this notion. While this is worth looking into, it is still well established that high red meat consumption is associated with heart disease, so make the decision that best suits your lifestyle and health.

Why Is Protein So Important?

Young woman working out, and you can see the definition in her back. She makes sure to get her daily protein intake to keep building and repairing her muscles.

Protein is a macronutrient that is essential in everyone’s diet. Proteins are made up of essential amino acids that your body needs for muscle repair, bone repair, and energy. Your muscles are dependent on protein to repair themselves and grow.

Without proper protein levels, you may lose weight, and your muscles may shrink. Protein can also help people lose weight; studies have found that protein causes you to feel full faster than other nutrients, encouraging you to eat less.

Which Option Is Best For Bulking?

When bulking, you want to increase your caloric intake. You need to consume more calories than you expend throughout your day. This is known as a caloric surplus. When you have a high-calorie intake, you will have more energy and leftover nutrients for growth.

This improves your workout intensity and weight gain. Per ounce, ground beef is higher than ground turkey in calories. This makes ground beef the better option during a bulking phase.

Which Option Is Best For Cutting?

Cutting is the opposite of bulking. When cutting, the goal is to decrease your caloric intake to consume fewer calories than you burn. This is called a caloric deficit, and it is the single most important thing for weight-loss. Even though cutting is all about consuming less, the body still needs nutrients, and bodybuilders still need protein for their muscles.

This is where ground turkey shines. Per ounce, ground turkey is lower than ground beef in calories, and it has roughly the same protein content. If you need protein but are watching your calorie intake, ground turkey is the way to go.


It is safe to say that both ground beef and ground turkey have their advantages. If your family has a history of heart health issues, you may want to go for ground turkey. If you are looking to gain weight, you may reach for ground beef.

Personally, I eat both options on a weekly basis. Ground beef provides me with iron, zinc, and b12. Ground turkey supplies calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. The key to any good diet is balance and variety, it is easy to get tired of eating one type of meat, so why choose? The only time I would consider switching exclusively to one type, would be if I were in a cutting phase. In this case, I would have to go with the 99% Fat-Free ground turkey for its high protein and low fat and calories.

Share this article:

Was this article helpful?

We’re proud to be a team of writers who are truly passionate about all things health.

Coming together from all parts of the world, we share a common goal of helping serve many with our comprehensive research and clear writing style. Learn more.

Nutrition & Diet