Week 7: Meat the Challenge

Red Meat: Think Small

Eat only modest amounts of red meat (no more than 12 – 18 ounces weekly) to reduce risk for colorectal cancer.

  • AICR’s reports found strong evidence linking red meat with higher risk of colon cancer above 12 – 18 ounces per week
  • Red meat contains heme iron, the compound that gives red meat its color, which may damage the lining of the colon
  • Red meats include beef, pork and lamb

Processed Meat: Think Special Occasion

Avoid processed meat (saving for special occasions) to reduce risk for colorectal cancer.

  • AICR’s reports found strong evidence that eating processed meat increases the chances of colorectal cancer. There was emerging, but limited research showing it increases one type of stomach cancer (non-cardia)
  • Processed meat is any meat that has been smoked, cured or salted, or has added preservatives
  • This processing can lead to formation of cancer-causing substances
  • Processed meats include ham, bacon, pastrami, salami, sausages, bratwursts, frankfurters and hot dogs

Conquer this Challenge: Make Meat a Modest Part of Your Diet

Limit cooked red meats to 12 – 18 ounces weekly.

  • Try this: 3 ounces red meat x 6 meals = 18 ounces lean red meat weekly
  • Four ounces of uncooked meat shrinks to about 3 ounces cooked
  • Choose lean cuts such as sirloin, loin, round and 95% lean ground meat

Choose other animal proteins more often

  • Fish, shellfish and other sea foods
  • Poultry like chicken and turkey
  • Cheese, yogurt, and eggs

Portion smart

  • A portion is 3 ounces of cooked red meat, seafood or poultry. This amount provides a healthy dose of protein without overdoing on calories with higher fat meats.
  • If the meat is higher fat (sirloin steak, tenderloin cuts), try 2-3 ounce portions for women and 3-5 ounce portions for men at dinner and go for half portions at lunch.

Try Plant Proteins

  • Beans like kidney, black, garbanzo (chickpeas), pinto, edamame, or navy are satisfying and add texture and color
  • Hummus, tofu, nuts and nut butters are quick and easy choices

3 Moves for Strong Healthy Hips!

20-Minute Ultimate Workout!

Strategies to use this week

Replace processed meats in sandwiches with: 

  • Peanut, almond and cashew butters
  • Garbanzo bean (hummus), black bean and other bean spreads
  • Fresh baked or roasted chicken and turkey (not deli-style processed)
  • Roasted loin or round of beef, pork and lamb
  • Egg, chicken, tuna and fish salads
  • Reduced-fat cheeses such as cheddar, Jarlsburg, mozzarella, provolone, Swiss

Eat at least one meatless lunch or dinner meal weekly

  • Meatless Monday, Tofu Tuesday or Bean Taco Thursday
  • Try bean curd (tofu) with vegetables with brown rice
  • Order tofu pad thai with a side order of vegetables at Asian restaurants.

Take the Quiz: What Is Processed Meat?

Dig Deeper

Enjoy beans and nuts for protein:

  • Swap beans for half the meat in chili, spaghetti sauce or other soups and stews
  • Eat seafood twice a week. Use this pocket guide to select sustainable seafood.

Know the serving sizes:

  • 1/2 cup cooked beans or 1 cup split pea, lentil or bean soup or 1 bean patty  = 2 ounces animal protein
  • 1/4 cup nuts or 2 tablespoons nut butters = 2 ounces animal protein
  • One-ounce cheese, 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup Greek-style yogurt or 1 cup milk = 1 ounce protein. Choose reduced-fat versions to help with weight loss
  • One whole egg – 1 ounce protein



Cooking Protein-Rich Plant Foods
NAPC Cooking:  Check out the NAP Challenge Cooking Resources page. Enjoy more legumes, nuts and seeds for protein, fiber and phytonutrients!


Learn more about our Mindful and Intuitive Eating Discussion for this week: 5. Respect Your Fullness.