Besides protein, what nutritional value is there in meat? | Nutritive value and cooking methods

Besides protein, what nutritional value is there in meat?

People consume animal flesh as meat and fish and their products. People consume mainly skeletal muscles as meat. In addition, some connective tissues associated with the skeleton (Collagen, Elastin, Reticulin) and edible organs like the liver, intestine, heart, brain, and kidney are utilized by humankind. The advent of civilization enables the domestication of animals such as chickens, sheep, rabbits, pigs, and cattle. This gradually led to their use on an industrial scale with the help of slaughterhouses in meat production. When considering meat nutrition, meat mainly contains proteins. Besides protein, what nutritional value is there in meat? Here, let’s discuss everything about meat nutrition.

Composition of meat

Primarily protein, fat, and water contain in meat. Also, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals are there.


The major nutrient in meat. Proteins contain amino acids and are rich in lysine, methionine, and threonine. Nutrient composition, however, depends on different variables. Species, age, and location of muscles are some variables.


Meat contains around 75% water naturally. but depending on the cut, it can differ. Depending on the time of year, meat quality, muscle type, and the percentage of water in a cut can vary. There is little moisture in adipose tissue; therefore, the fatter the animal, the lower the overall water content of its carcass or cuts. Beef muscle can contain as little as 45 percent from mature and relatively fat animals.


A very low amount of carbohydrates is available in meat. The animal body’s main carbohydrate reservoir is the liver. Carbohydrates store as glycogen in the liver and in muscles. 


Fat can be varied in meat. There is a wide range of lipids such as abdominal fat, fat in the cell membrane and adipose tissue, neutral lipids, and TAG. This also, depends on environmental conditions, type of feed, age, and sex. Beef has more fat. Chicken has more unsaturated fat than lamb.


Meat is a rich source of the vitamin B complex (B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12). Pork is rich in Thiamin (vitamin B1). Fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin E, and vitamin K are in small amounts.


Meat is rich in Iron (Fe), Selenium (Se), Zinc (Zn), and Phosphorus(P). Iron is rich in red meat and Calcium (Ca) is low in meat.

When considering meat nutrition under the topic of “besides protein, what nutritional value is there in meat?”, the above nutrients are available in meat.

Also, there is no fiber in meat. There are some factors that affect the above composition of muscle tissues. Type of diet, age, weight, gender, maintenance, and hormones are some of them.

There are basically two types of meat; red and white.

Red meat

It contains in its tissue more iron-rich protein myoglobin than white meat. Commercially red when raw and dark color after it is cooked.  Beef, lamb, and mutton are some examples.

White meat

Usually, it’s lighter in color than red meat. Pale in color before and after cooking. Chicken, turkey, and duck are some examples.

There is also some other type of meat and we can call it intermediate meat. Pork is one of the examples. (Pale pink color)           

Besides protein, what nutritional value is there in meat? When considering the nutritional value, it is important to know the conversion of muscles. Muscles become meat according to some procedures.

Conversion of Muscle into Meat

Conversion of muscle to meat involves series of biochemical and metabolic processes. The size, extent, and timing of these metabolic and biochemical responses taking place in the animal tissue significantly affect the meat quality. After slaughtering the animal’s oxygen supply will be cut off to the muscle. Therefore, anaerobic metabolism takes the place. Due to the absence of oxygen supply to the muscle after an animal being slaughtered, anaerobic metabolism is initiated. Muscle contractions are continued until the energy substrates get depleted. Earlier creatine phosphate was used to generate ATP and later on glycogenolysis and glycolysis will take the lead as oxygen is absent. This is the post-mortem glycolysis process. When the CP and ATP depleted, lactate and hydrogen ion accumulation result in a drop in pH. It is about 5.4 to 5.7 pH 24 hours after slaughter.

What happens when meat is cooked?

We can cook meat in different ways. Boiling, baking, smoking, tempering, and grilling are some of them. In raw meat, the individual protein molecules are wound up into coils while cooking, which are formed and held together by bonds. When the meat is heated, the bonds are broken and the protein molecule unwinds. Heat also shrinks muscle fibers in diameter and length due to the removal of water. Also, the protein molecules recombine or coagulate because the natural structure of the protein changes. When cooking meat, the temperature goes up. Then proteins begin to denature. Most of the free water that makes the meat juicy would have been forced out by the shrinking collagen. These are also very important facts that we can discuss under the topic of “besides protein, what nutritional value is there in meat?”

Effect of cooking on nutritive value

People process meat in different ways worldwide. It includes grilling, baking, boiling, simmering, barbecuing, tempering, shallow or deep frying, etc. Certain cooking methods can destroy portions of some nutrients while some methods can make some nutrients more bioavailable.


Deep-frying refers to immersing food in fat entirely during cooking. Enhanced taste, crispy texture, and excellent preservation of vitamins and minerals are the advantages of deep-frying meat.


Roasting refers to the dry heat of cooking food in an oven. With this cooking process, like vitamin C, most vitamin losses are small. The B vitamins in roasted meat can decline by as much as 40 percent due to long cooking times at high temperatures.

Grilling (Barbecuing)

The heat source comes from below. 40% of B vitamins and minerals may be lost during grilling. There are also concerns about polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Those are potentially cancer-causing substances that form when grilling meat and fat drips onto a hot surface.


Pan-frying refers to cooking meat in a skillet, wok, or pot with fat. While using high heat by these techniques, cooking times are very low. It helps to preserve tender meat with good flavor. It causes oxidation of the cholesterol in fatty meats. Oxidized cholesterol is known to be a cardiac disease risk factor. Heterocyclic amines (HAs) are compounds capable of causing cancer, that has often occurred during the pan-frying of meat and poultry.

Besides protein, what nutritional value is there in meat? Now you’ll be able to get many facts about meat nutrition, meat types, and conversion of muscle into the meat, and cooking methods through this article. Also, you can try these cooking methods and eat with different tastes.

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