Skip to Content

Is steak and potatoes good for you?

Steak and potatoes is a classic meal combination that has been popular for decades. But is loading up your plate with beef and starchy potatoes actually a healthy choice? There are pros and cons to this traditional duo to consider.

The Nutrients in Steak

Steak contains a variety of nutrients that can be beneficial when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet:

  • Protein – Steak is a great source of protein, which provides amino acids that support muscle growth and maintenance. A 6 ounce sirloin steak contains around 39 grams of protein.
  • Iron – Steak contains heme iron, which is more easily absorbed by the body than non-heme iron from plant sources. Iron is critical for oxygen transport in the blood.
  • Zinc – Important for immune function and DNA synthesis. A 6 ounce sirloin steak has about 5 mg of zinc.
  • Vitamin B12 – This vitamin is crucial for nerve tissue health and red blood cell formation. Steak is one of the best natural sources of B12.
  • Selenium – A trace mineral that acts as an antioxidant and is involved in thyroid hormone metabolism. A 3 ounce serving of beef contains over 30% of the RDI for selenium.

So in moderate servings a few times a week, steak can be a very nutritious addition to your diet. It provides high quality protein and bioavailable iron and micronutrients that are essential for health.

Potential Drawbacks of Steak

However, there are some potential downsides to eating steak regularly that need to be considered:

  • High in Saturated Fat – While steak contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, it is also high in saturated fat which can drive up LDL cholesterol levels.
  • Cancer Risk – Some studies link high red meat consumption to increased colorectal cancer risk.
  • Environmental Impact – Beef production requires more land, water and feed resources than poultry or plant foods. The high environment burden of beef is concerning to some.
  • Expense – Steak is one of the more costly protein sources per serving compared to chicken, pork or plant proteins like beans and lentils.

Moderating intake and choosing lean cuts of steak can help reduce the potential negatives. But steak does need to be consumed responsibly as part of an overall healthy eating pattern.

Nutrients in Potatoes

Potatoes, like meat, also contain a combination of beneficial nutrients:

  • Carbohydrates – A medium baked potato with skin provides around 37 grams of carbs, primarily in the form of starch.
  • Fiber – The skin of potatoes contains significant amounts of fiber. A medium potato with skin has about 5 grams.
  • Potassium – With 926 mg per medium potato, potassium helps regulate fluid balance and blood pressure.
  • Vitamin C – Potatoes are an excellent source, providing 45% of the RDI per serving.
  • B-Vitamins – Potatoes contain folate, vitamin B6 and thiamine, which support energy metabolism.

When prepared in a healthy way without too much added fat, salt or sugar, potatoes can be a nutritious part of a balanced diet. The fiber, potassium and vitamin content provide valuable health benefits.

Potential Concerns with Potatoes

However, there are also some cautions to keep in mind when it comes to potatoes:

  • High Glycemic Index – Potatoes cause a more rapid rise in blood sugar compared to other carb sources due to their low fiber content relative to carb density.
  • Weight Gain – The combination of carbs and calories in potatoes can promote weight gain if portion sizes are not controlled.
  • Acrylamide Formation – Cooking potatoes at high temperatures like frying causes the formation of acrylamide, a potential carcinogen.
  • Nutrient Deficiencies – Peeling potatoes can remove a significant portion of their vitamin C, fiber and potassium content.

Maintaining reasonable portion sizes, keeping the skin intact and avoiding high temperature cooking methods like frying can help reduce the downsides of potato consumption.

Benefits of Combining Steak and Potatoes

Pairing steak with potatoes provides a balance of protein, carbs and micronutrients:

  • Complementary amino acids – Potatoes contain lysine, an amino acid steak is low in. Together they provide a more complete protein profile.
  • Balanced meal – Having a source of protein, carbs and fat in a meal can help stabilize blood sugar rather than just eating steak alone.
  • Higher satiety – Protein and fiber together can promote increased feelings of fullness and satisfaction after eating.

Enjoying steak with a side of potatoes is one way to create a well-rounded, satisfying meal.

Healthy Ways to Prepare Steak and Potatoes

There are some easy ways to boost the nutrition in steak and potato meals:

  • Choose Lean Cuts of Steak – Top round, sirloin or flank are lower in saturated fat than ribeye or T-bone.
  • Use Healthy Cooking Methods – Grilling, broiling, roasting or pan searing steak instead of frying adds flavor without excess calories.
  • Keep Potato Skin Intact – Leaving the potato skin on retains fiber and nutrients.
  • Flavor Smartly – Use herb rubs, marinades and spices to add flavor instead of butter, heavy gravy or sour cream.
  • Increase Vegetables – Round out the meal by adding a side salad or healthy green vegetable like broccoli.
  • Use Reasonable Portions – Stick to a 6 ounce steak and medium sized potato to keep calories in check.

With some simple substitutions and a focus on balance, steak and potatoes can be prepared in a healthy way while retaining the delicious flavors.

Healthier Alternatives to Consider

For those looking to reduce their red meat intake or lighten up this classic meal, there are some healthy alternatives worth considering:

Instead of Steak:

  • Salmon or tuna steaks
  • Chicken or turkey breast
  • Seitan or soy-based veggie meat
  • Mushrooms, eggplant or cauliflower steaks

Instead of Potatoes:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Brown or wild rice
  • Winter squash like butternut or acorn
  • Beans or lentils

Experimenting with leaner proteins and alternative whole food sides can allow you to still enjoy the staple flavor pairing while optimizing nutrition.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, pairing steak with potatoes can be a healthy choice when prepared properly and consumed in moderation as part of an overall balanced diet. Prioritizing lean cuts of steak, keeping potato skins on and using heart-healthy cooking methods reduces the downsides while still providing a satisfying duo of protein and carbs. If consuming red meat regularly is a concern, substituting in poultry, fish or plant-based proteins along with alternative whole grain sides can allow you to still enjoy this classic meal profile in a more nutritious way. With some small tweaks and thoughtful substitutions, steak and potatoes can be optimized to benefit your health.

Food Serving Size Calories Total Fat Carbs Protein
Sirloin steak 6 oz 376 15 g 0 g 39 g
Baked potato with skin Medium (5.3 oz) 161 0 g 37 g 4 g
Sweet potato with skin Medium (6 oz) 180 0 g 41 g 4 g
Salmon fillet 6 oz 362 15 g 0 g 39 g
Chicken breast 6 oz 231 3 g 0 g 43 g
Quinoa 1/2 cup cooked 111 2 g 20 g 4 g
Black beans 1/2 cup cooked 114 0 g 20 g 7 g

This nutrition data table provides a helpful comparison of steak, potatoes and some healthier alternatives to illustrate potential nutrition differences in 6 ounce serving sizes.

Key Takeaways on Steak and Potatoes

  • Steak offers high quality protein, iron and B-vitamins, but can also be high in saturated fat and environmental impact.
  • Potatoes provide carbs, fiber, potassium and vitamin C, but have a high glycemic index when fried or served without skin.
  • Together steak and potatoes make a satisfying protein + carb meal, but best consumed in moderation with vegetables.
  • Choosing lean cuts of steak, keeping potato skin on and using healthy cooking methods reduces negatives.
  • Substituting in poultry, fish or plant proteins and alternative whole grain sides can make this meal even healthier.


Steak and potatoes can be a nutritious meal option when prepared properly. Prioritizing lean cuts of beef, keeping potato skins intact and using healthy cooking methods help reduce any potential downsides of this classic pairing. To optimize nutrition, add plenty of vegetables to balance the meal and consider alternative proteins and whole grain carb sides. Consumed occasionally as part of a diet rich in plants, steak and potatoes can be enjoyed as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. But for regular consumption, lighter options may be preferable.