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Protein in Chicken Breast: Is It The Best Source of Protein? 

6 min read
two grilled chicken breasts on a wooden board, protein in chicken breast
Melissa Mitri post Reviewer Melissa Mitri post Reviewer
Verified by Melissa Mitri
MS, Registered Dietitian, Former President of CT Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

Table of Contents

Have you ever wondered how much protein is in chicken breast? Protein is essential for overall health with many functions, including building muscle, supporting body processes, and much more. 

Chicken breast readily comes to mind for many as an excellent protein source, especially because of its lower fat and calorie content when compared to red meat. 

In this article, we will examine how much protein is in one chicken breast, depending on whether it’s fried, baked, broiled, and more. 

Nutrient Profile & Protein in Chicken Breast

Chicken breast is a type of white meat poultry that is known for being lower in fat than other types of meat. This is true even when including other higher-fat parts of the chicken, such as the dark meat wings or thigh. 

More specifically, one roasted chicken breast with skin (about 130 grams) contains roughly 228 calories and 9.97 grams of fat (2.55 grams saturated). [1]  

Without the skin, this same portion contains only 173 calories and 4.28 grams of fat (1.04 grams saturated). [2] The calorie and fat content can increase when the chicken is cooked in fat, such as deep frying or sautéing. 

Let’s get back to protein. Here is how much protein is in chicken breast per oz and per 100-gram serving.  

Grams of Protein Per 100 Grams Grams of Protein Per Ounce
Rotisserie – With Skin26.47.48
Rotisserie – No Skin28.07.94
Grilled – With Skin25.77.29
Grilled – No Skin29.68.39
Baked – With Skin23.86.75
Baked – No Skin29.68.39
Sautéed – With Skin25.77.29
Sautéed – No Skin29.68.39
Fried – With Skin21.56.10
Fried – No Skin29.68.39

How Much Protein Is In One Chicken Breast?

To find how much protein is in 4 oz of chicken breast, which is about a regular chicken breast size, multiply the grams of protein per ounce by four. 

This way, we get the following number of protein per 4-oz chicken breast with no skin:

  • Rotisserie chicken breast – 32 g 
  • Grilled chicken breast – 33.5 g 
  • Baked chicken breast – 33.5 g
  • Sautéed chicken breast – 33.5 g
  • Fried chicken breast – 33.5 g

Benefits of Chicken Breast as a Protein Source

Besides the high protein content, let’s discuss some other benefits of chicken breast, including its low-calorie, carb, and fat profile. Read on to learn more! 

Low in Calories

As mentioned above, an average-sized chicken breast only contains about 170 to 230 calories, depending on if the skin is eaten. For the amount of nutrition it contains, chicken breast is an excellent source of protein that can aid in weight loss and muscle building. 

Low in Carbs and Fat

We have discussed the low-fat content of chicken breast, especially when compared to dark meat poultry, red meat, and more. However, the fat content can change depending on the cooking method and if the skin is left on or removed when eating. 

Rotisserie roasted chicken, for example, is zero-carb. While adding the skin contributes 0.09 grams of carbohydrates, it is essentially zero-carb since this amount is negligible. Therefore, chicken breast can be a great food to include in a low-carb diet to help with weight loss. 

To include chicken breast in a complete meal, pair it with a source of whole grains, plenty of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, and a source of healthy fats, such as avocado. 

Rich in Vitamins and Minerals

Chicken breast is also rich in many essential vitamins and minerals that help support health and enable our body to function optimally.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture food database, chicken breast is rich in zinc, selenium, phosphorus, and more. Additionally, chicken contains lots of beneficial B vitamins, including niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. 

These nutrients are essential for balanced nutrition and provide antioxidant properties to reduce oxidative stress, support bone health, and more. 

High Level of Absorption (Compared to Plant Sources)

Additionally, the quality of the protein contained in chicken is essential. The quality of a protein is measured according to its biological value. According to the journal Nutrition in Clinical Practice, animal sources like chicken consistently score higher in terms of protein quality and are considered complete proteins. [3]

This is because they contain all of the essential amino acids (protein-building blocks).  Plant sources are typically considered to be incomplete proteins because they do not contain all of the essential amino acids. 

You may also like: How Much Protein Can Your Body Absorb?

Therefore, animal protein sources, like chicken breast, are thought to have higher levels of absorption in the body compared to plant-based sources, such as tofu, tempeh, and vegetarian meat substitute products. This might be crucial for those who want to gain muscle or achieve body recomposition.

Protein in Chicken Breast vs. Other Parts

Let’s compare the protein content of chicken breast with the other parts of the chicken that are commonly eaten, such as the leg, wing, and thigh. The nutrients listed are for rotisserie-cooked chicken without the skin.  

Grams of protein per 100 gramsGrams of fat per 100 grams
Chicken Breast28.03.57
Chicken Leg (drumstick)25.59.15
Chicken Thigh24.110.7
Chicken Wing23.418

As you can see, the protein content isn’t significantly lower in other parts of the chicken. The main difference is in the fat content, which is higher, sometimes substantially, in the other parts. 

That’s why in the chicken and rice diet, which is very popular among those gaining muscle mass, chicken breasts rather than other chicken parts are used.

That doesn’t mean some of these higher-fat parts of chicken should be forbidden–you just need to control your portion and ensure it fits nicely into your total fat intake for the day.

Is Chicken Breast the Best Source of Protein?

Chicken breast is one of the best sources of protein if you are looking to gain muscle or lose weight. This is because it is high in protein but low in fat, calories, and carbohydrates.

However, it is essential to note that your diet should include a variety of protein sources in addition to chicken, such as turkey, fish, and seafood. There are vegetarian protein sources to help build muscle as well, such as tofu, tempeh, beans, and eggs.

Key Takeaways

Let’s summarize some main points discussed in this article.

  • Chicken breast is an excellent source of protein that is low in calories, carbohydrates, and fat. 
  • The fat and carbohydrate content of chicken increases if the skin is eaten and if lots of fat is used in cooking, such as deep frying. 
  • Compared to other parts of the chicken, including the thigh, leg, and wing, the breast has the highest amount of protein per 100-gram serving.
  • You can include chicken in your diet along with a variety of other protein sources, such as turkey, fish, tofu, beans, and more.
  • To make a balanced meal, pair your chicken breast with a source of whole grains such as brown rice, fruits, and vegetables, a source of low-fat dairy, and a healthy fat source, such as olive oil.
Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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