Chicken Breast Nutrition: How Many Calories, Protein, More?
Even as plant-based eating has gained popularity, chicken remains one of the most popular sources of protein in the US In fact, Americans eat 8 billion chickens each year. For health-conscious consumers, grilled chicken breast is often the preferred way to consume the bird. Fried chicken may be tasty, but it’s also high in trans fats, which have been linked to increased LDL cholesterol and a negative impact on your heart.
Still, you may be wondering single how much healthier it is to grill chicken compared to cooking it in other ways, especially when it comes to grilling, baking, or sautéing, not just frying. Does it really make a big difference how you cook your chicken? In addition to the cooking method, it’s also helpful to know how chicken compares to other protein sources so you can compare them based on their full nutritional profiles, not just their protein content. If you eat chicken regularly, here’s what registered dieticians want you to know.
How many calories are in grilled chicken breast?
There are 284 calories in a six-ounce grilled chicken breast.
Grilled Chicken Breast Nutrition Facts (for one 6 oz. piece)
- Total fat: 6.5g
- Cholesterol: 204 milligrams
- Sodium: 413 milligrams
- Potassium: 806 milligrams
- carbohydrates: 0 grams
- Fiber: 0 grams
- Protein: 57 grams
- Vitamin A: 1% of the recommended daily amount
- Calcium: 1% of the recommended daily amount
- Iron: 5% of the recommended daily amount
Related: Can You Eat Too Much Protein? And how much is too much? These are the signs that you are getting more than you need
How Grilled Chicken Breast Compares to Other Protein Sources
When it comes to protein, the RDA is about 46 grams a day for women and 56 grams a day for men. (The exact amount recommended varies by age, body weight, and activity level.) A whole chicken breast meets this goal, but since it’s important to include protein at every meal and not just one, you’d be better off eating a smaller amount. of chicken (such as half of a grilled chicken breast) at one meal while getting the rest of your protein from other sources at other meals.
In general, the registered dietitian and eat your vitamins Author Mascha Davis, MPH, RDNsays that grilled chicken breast is a good source of lean protein. “A skinless chicken breast is the leanest cut of chicken and an optimal choice to support or maintain weight loss and build muscle,” she says. “Compared to other meat sources, chicken breast offers lean protein, which means it offers fewer calories due to its low fat content,” she says.
registered dietitian Dana Angelo White, RD, MS, ATC, echoes Davis that grilled chicken breast has more protein and less fat than fattier cuts of beef and pork, as well as fattier cuts of chicken. She says that one of the benefits of meat as a protein source across the board is that they all contain all of the essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein that can only be obtained through diet.
While grilled chicken breast seems like an optimal protein source compared to other meat sources, the comparison is more complicated when compared to plant-based protein sources such as tofu, beans, and lentils. If you’re comparing foods solely on protein content, chicken comes out ahead. “Both tofu and beans are excellent sources of vegetable protein and an ideal choice for protein variation. [But] While these plant-based sources also provide lean protein, chicken has significantly higher protein content,” says Davis.
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Related: 10 Protein Sources That Will Help You Lose Body Fat
However, White says that plant-based protein sources have a stronger nutritional profile than grilled chicken breast. “If we look at other micronutrients there are more diverse differences. Plant-based proteins, like legumes, contain some nutrients not commonly found in meat, like fiber and calcium,” she says.
The bottom line here: Eating a variety of protein sources will ensure you get a broader range of nutrients. “It is important to add variety to your diet, especially protein sources. Different proteins will provide different contents of nutrients like unsaturated fats, dietary fiber, and vitamin D,” says Davis.
Related: 16 High-Protein Foods To Add To Your Diet
How much healthier is grilled chicken compared to cooking it in other ways?
According to both dietitians, the reason grilled chicken is healthier than fried chicken is because fried chicken has more fat, not the “good” kind of fat found in avocados or fish. The type of fat in fried foods is trans fat. “Research shows that frequent consumption of fried foods is associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and hypertension,” says Davis.
However, grilling chicken is not the only healthy way to enjoy it. Davis says that sautéing, steaming, grilling and baking are just as healthy. “These methods don’t drastically alter the integrity of the chicken and often require minimal ingredients, like a drizzle of olive oil,” he says. Air frying is also a healthy way to cook chicken because it doesn’t use the oils that contain trans fats that are used in traditional frying.
“I like high heat for my chicken breast to help seal in the juices—a grill, deep fryer, or cast-iron skillet all work wonderfully,” says White. “Bone-in, skin-on chicken breast can be roasted in the oven on a 400°F baking sheet. The skin and bones help keep the meat juicy and flavorful and can be removed after grilling.” She says other ways to help lock in moisture include marinating, which helps add extra flavor to lean chicken breast.
As you can see, there are many different ways to prepare chicken in a healthy way; grilling is a great option, but it’s not the only one. It is also clear that it is an ideal way to reach your protein goals. Still, both dieticians reiterate the importance of eating a variety of foods. By changing your protein sources, you’ll enjoy a broader range of nutritional benefits. You’ll probably find that your meals will be more exciting too!
Check out these 30 healthy ways to prepare chicken below.