Is Roast Beef Good Or Bad For Bodybuilding (Pros & Cons)

Roast beef is a protein source that isn’t as frequently talked about in bodybuilding when compared with other meats such as chicken or tuna.  This lack of attention may lead you to wonder whether it’s good or bad for bodybuilding.

Roast beef is good for bodybuilding because, per 100g, it is high in protein (27g), low in sodium (only 54mg), and low in fat (only 5g). Also, it is a source of natural creatine that can help maintain or grow your muscles. As well, roast beef can easily adapt to either bulking or cutting goals.

In this article, I will explore everything related to roast beef and bodybuilding, including:

  • The calories and macro content of roast beef 
  • Pros and cons of adding roast beef to your bodybuilder diet
  • When the best time to eat roast beef (pre or post-workout)
  • Whether it helps in muscle growth 
  • Tips for including roast beef into your bodybuilder diet

Roast Beef For Bodybuilding: Overview

Nutritional Content of Roast Beef

nutritional content of 100 g of lean roast beef cooked

In 100 g of lean roast beef cooked, you can find the following nutritional information. 

  • Calories: 168
  • Carbs: 0.0 g
  • Protein: 27.7 g 
  • Fats: 5.6 g
  • Sodium: 54 mg

Calories

Roast beef is a protein moderate in calories. It has fewer calories than chicken thighs (which have 400 kcal per 100 g), but it has more calories than other protein sources like shrimp (which has 70 kcal per 100 g). 

Because it is neither high or low in calories, you can easily modify the portion sizes for both cutting and bulking goals.

For those in a cutting phase, eating protein sources that are relatively lean (i.e. low in fat) will help you stay within your caloric target for the day. 

On the other hand, a bodybuilder in a bulking phase can still benefit from eating lean protein sources since it allows you to add other high-calorie foods in the cooking process (like butter or oil) or as a side dish (like avocado)

With that said, bodybuilders who are at the extremes of cutting or bulking, either someone in the final phases of a bodybuilding prep or someone who is an incredibly hard-gainer and is using a ‘dirty bulking’ strategy, will probably want to opt for a more specific food related to their use case.

Macronutrients

Roast beef only has two macronutrients: protein and fats. It does not contain any carbs. 

Protein

Roast beef is a food very high in protein since in 100 g you can get a similar protein content as one scoop of protein or the same as almost four large eggs. It is also a high-quality protein since it contains all the essential amino acids your body needs. 

Fat

As I mentioned, roast beef is fairly low in fat when it comes to other animal sources of protein. For example, chicken thighs have more than 40g of fat per 100g, while roast beef only has 5g. 

When comparing it to another red meat cuts, it has a similar content as ground beef that is 95% lean meat. They both have 5 g of fat per 100 g of food. However, when we compare it to other meat cuts like a T-bone, it has a lower fat content since T-bone has 7.2 g of fat.

Micronutrients

Here are the top three nutrients that roast beef offers: 

  • Selenium. It has antioxidant properties that help reduce inflammation in the body. This means that you can have better muscle recovery thanks to reducing inflammation. Also, it seems to boost your immune function, which means that you are less likely to get sick. 
  • Niacin. It helps reduce triglycerides and cholesterol levels for those bodybuilders with altered bloodwork. Roast beef can help bring those levels back to normal (along with a healthy diet and exercise). Thus, it decreases the incidence of heart disease. 

Are you eating the right foods for your bodybuilding goals?

4 Pros Of Eating Roast Beef For Bodybuilding

pros vs cons eating roast beef for bodybuilding

Here are four benefits of eating roast beef if you are a bodybuilder: 

High In Protein

Reaching the protein intake for some might be challenging. A bodybuilder’s need could range from 1.6 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This means that if you weigh 250 lbs, you might need 181 to 227 grams of protein. 

Reaching this intake might be overwhelming for some, and relying on protein shakes only to achieve it might get boring. Therefore, consuming other types of protein sources, like roast beef is key. 

As well, roast beef is a cheap protein.  Depending on where you buy it, it could go from $7.39 per pound. While this isn’t cheaper than ground beef, it is cheaper than a T-bone steak. 

Easy To Meal Prep

Roast beef has the advantage that you can meal prep a batch and place it in the fridge for the week, which isn’t the case for all types of protein (i.e. fish is better eaten fresh). 

You can store it in individual portions and even freeze it for future use. The benefit of meal prepping for a bodybuilder is that it will make it easier to follow your macros during the day. 

Low in Sodium

One of the benefits of roast beef is its low sodium content. For a food to be classified as low in sodium, it must contain less than 140 mg per serving size (100 g)

Roast beef has 54 mg of sodium per 100 grams, making it the best option for bodybuilders that need a low sodium intake (for example those with high blood pressure). 

High In Creatine

Creatine is a natural substance found in your body. It is responsible for providing fast-acting muscle contractions like the ones you get from powerlifting or sprints. Creatine helps improve muscle recovery and increases strength—a key feature for bodybuilders. 

Having an increase in muscle strength means that you can lift more, which means that your muscle fibers can have those micro ruptures needed for muscle mass to increase. 

An intake of 3-10 g of creatine per day seems to get you all the benefits that you need to improve your strength. However, although some people like to take it as a supplement form, this is not always the case, as some prefer to have a more natural approach. 

If you are one of those people, red meat, like roast beef, typically has one of the highest sources of natural creatine content. 

Red meat has around 5 g of creatine per 1 kilogram. While you likely won’t eat 1 kilogram of roast beef in a single sitting, if you’re spreading your portions out throughout the day, it is reasonable to assume you’ll still ingest a meaningful amount of creatine (between 1-2g).  

For more creatine resources, check out my other articles:

1 Con of Eating Roast Beef For Bodybuilding

Although there are several benefits of having roast beef, there is one con that you should consider before adding roast beef to your bodybuilding diet. 

Source of Saturated Fats

Even if roast beef is lower in fats than other sources (like corned beef or chicken thighs), it still has some fats that you need to consider as part of your overall diet. 

Roast beef is mainly composed of saturated fats, which are the ones that could potentially lead to heart disease. In 100 g of roast beef, you find 2.8 g of saturated fats. 

The American Heart Association recommends having less than 7% of your total calories from saturated fats. This means that if you have an energy requirement of 2,000 kcal, you can have a maximum of 15 g of saturated fats per day. This means that roast beef represents almost 20% of the daily recommended intake. 

Adding roast beef means that you need to be careful with other high saturated fat sources like butter, mayonnaise, fatty meats, and fatty cheese. There should be no health concerns if you stay below the 7% saturated fat intake though. So just be mindful of how roast beef fits in with your broader diet.

Can You Eat Roast Beef Before Workouts?

Roast beef is not the best choice to include before your workout session. Before working out, you need carbs to help you provide energy. Since roast beef doesn’t have any carbs, it won’t help with energy. Also, proteins and fats take longer to digest, which might make you feel sluggish. 

Although you can convert protein into usable energy, it is not a very efficient method. Besides, we want protein to be used for muscle formation. Thus, it is vital to have a carb-based option before your workout. 

You can include a small amount of roast beef (1-2 oz) before a workout as long as you add it with an easy-to-digest carb source like rice, granola, bread, or fruits. You can have this meal 1-2 hours before training to provide steady energy release during training. 

Can You Eat Roast Beef After Workouts?

Yes, you can eat roast beef after a workout. It is an excellent source of high-quality protein that can help you repair and grow your muscles. Along with roast beef, it is vital to have a carb option to help replenish your glycogen stores to have the best recovery. Add a carb like sweet potato, quinoa, or brown rice. 

Although the protein requirements depend on each individual’s needs, a good average is 30-40 grams of protein after your workout. Having 100 g of roast beef (3 oz) helps you achieve this minimum (since it has almost the same amount as one scoop of protein). 

The advantage of roast beef is that if you need more, you can always increase the size without worrying about exceeding your sodium intake. 

Remember that you also need omega-3 fatty acids (avocado, nuts, or olive oil) or antioxidants (found in veggies). They help reduce inflammation to ensure that you have the best post-exercise recovery. 

Is Roast Beef Good For Muscle Growth?

Yes, roast beef helps you with muscle growth by helping you achieve your protein requirements. However, it might not be higher in calories than other protein sources like corned beef. So depending on how much a caloric surplus you need, you might want to opt for a higher fat protein source.

For muscle growth, you need two things about nutrition: a caloric surplus and reaching your protein intake. 

If you have trouble reaching your total calories, then roast beef might not be the one for you. You might need protein sources higher in calories, like corned beef. However, if you are fine with reaching your calories but have trouble getting your protein, then roast beef is the one to add for muscle growth. 

Tips For Incorporating Roast Beef Into A Bodybuilding Diet

tips for incorporating roast beef into a bodybuilding diet

Measure the Portion Size

With any food that you are adding to your diet, make sure that you always measure the portion size. When it comes to processed meats, it can go both ways 1) you could end up overeating 2) you could be undereating. 

Eyeballing the portion in processed meats is a bit complex since it depends on the thickness and size of the slice. Thus, it is essential to measure the portion size to make sure that you are getting the amount of food you are intended on having. 

Check The Sodium

Not all roast beef could be low in sodium, especially when we are talking about deli roast beef. 

Processed meats (like deli proteins), tend to be very high in sodium. That is why it is always important to check the nutritional label. When buying any sandwich meat, ensure that it has less than 140 mg per serving (100 g) or sodium. 

A high sodium diet could potentially lead to high blood pressure, putting you at risk for heart disease.

Have Variety

Remember that every protein and every food has a different nutritional characteristic. Although it might be tempting to have roast beef every day, all day due to its simplicity make sure that you are getting different proteins and foods during the day. 

Want to learn more about different types of beef? Check out Is Beef Jerky Good or Bad For Bodybuilding?

Add Veggies

When you are preparing the roast beef, make sure to add some non-starchy veggies when you cook it. That way, you can increase the nutritional value of the dish. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is Roast Beef High In Protein?

Yes, roast beef is high in protein. It has 27g of protein per 100 g of food. It even has more protein than other protein sources like tuna (which has 23 g of protein per 100 g). Additionally, it has all the essential amino acids that your body needs, making it a high-quality complete protein source. 

Does Roast Beef Have More Protein Than Chicken?

No, chicken breast has a higher protein content than roast beef. Roast beef has 27 g of protein per 100 g of food, while chicken breast has 32 g of protein for the same serving size. Additionally, chicken breast has 2 g less fat than roast beef.

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About The Author

Brenda Peralta

Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist.  In addition to being an author for FeastGood.com, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.