Dietary recommendations regarding consumption of muscle foods, such as red meat, processed meat, poultry or fish, largely rely on current dietary intake assessment methods. This narrative review summarizes how U.S. intake values for various types of muscle foods are grouped and estimated via methods that include: (1) food frequency questionnaires; (2) food disappearance data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service; and (3) dietary recall information from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data. These reported methods inconsistently classify muscle foods into groups, such as those previously listed, which creates discrepancies in estimated intakes. Researchers who classify muscle foods into these groups do not consistently considered nutrient content, in turn leading to implications of scientific conclusions and dietary recommendations. Consequentially, these factors demonstrate a need for a more universal muscle food classification system. Further specification to this system would improve accuracy and precision in which researchers can classify muscle foods in nutrition research. Future multidisciplinary collaboration is needed to develop a new classification system via systematic review protocol of current literature.
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