This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
Chicken is a popular type of meat. Find out whether it is good for weight loss, how you can eat it for this purpose, and how chicken compares to alternatives.
While different pieces of chicken vary slightly, you can say that it is generally reasonable in terms of calories, high in protein, and contains a few vitamins and minerals in nice amounts.
The result of this is that eating more chicken will likely help you feel a lot fuller and in turn, help you eat smaller portions of foods that are less helpful for losing weight.
If this is the case, and it will often be so, chicken will be good for weight loss.
On the flip side, you still need to implement the changes above. Just adding chicken on top of your typical daily diet could even lead to a bit of weight gain.
Something else to note is that these principles apply to regular boiled chicken. Other preparation methods like fried chicken tend to be bad for weight loss.
Calories in chicken
How many calories foods like chicken contain is not the only detail that is relevant for weight loss but it is helpful to know.
100 grams of cooked chicken breast contain around 165 calories (1).
The number of calories in chicken is higher than in most fruits and vegetables.
On the other hand, this amount is still very reasonable compared to many other foods and even compared to many other weight-loss-friendly meats.
Something interesting to note is that meats like chicken contain zero carbs (if you don’t add herbs and spices). This makes them good for low-carb weight loss diets like keto.
When it comes to the total number of calories, chicken is decent but there are better potions. However, as you will see, what sources these calories come from matters too.
Micronutrients in chicken
The first thing to look at is the amount of micronutrients in chicken.
Micronutrients are a group of nutrients your body absolutely needs to survive and thrive. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. These are involved in basically every aspect of your health, including weight loss.
100 grams of cooked chicken breast provides you with approximately (1):
- Niacin: 69% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Selenium: 39% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 30% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 23% of the DV
- Vitamin B5: 10% of the DV
- Riboflavin: 7% of the DV
- Magnesium: 7% of the DV
- Potassium: 7% of the DV
- Zinc: 7% of the DV
- Vitamin B12: 6% of the DV
- Iron: 6% of the DV
- Thiamin: 5% of the DV
And a few other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts. Cooked chicken breast contains a wide variety of vitamins and minerals in good quantities.
Chicken can be a great addition to a healthy diet in terms of vitamins and minerals.
Protein in chicken for weight loss
Another thing in food that can help you on your weight loss journey is the amount of protein in it.
Even compared to other meats, that’s a very big amount of protein per 100 grams.
Eating enough protein will also help you prevent muscle loss. Since muscle helps you burn extra calories throughout the day this is a big plus for protein and chicken for weight loss.
Do keep in mind that overdoing it with protein isn’t good either.
Will chicken help you lose weight?
So chicken is reasonably low in calories, high in protein, and contains a few valuable vitamins and minerals in nice amounts.
This combination makes it so eating chicken will likely make you feel a lot fuller. In turn, you will likely consume less of other foods that could be suboptimal for weight loss.
In a situation like that, chicken can help you lose weight.
On the other hand, you still need to make these modifications to your diet. If you just eat more chicken without doing anything else, it could be fattening instead.
Additionally, you also want to consume chicken in weight-loss-friendly ways. There are some preparation methods that add a lot of energy to your diet without being very filling.
Can you eat chicken at night for weight loss?
If you do decide to eat more chicken, the time you eat it may influence your weight loss.
When you eat something you raise your insulin levels, mostly with carbohydrate-rich foods but also with foods like chicken. Insulin in turn can mess with the production of sleep hormones. Sleep is important for your weight loss and health.
This is one of the reasons you don’t want to eat chicken at night, too close to bedtime. Chicken for dinner should be completely fine as long as your dinner isn’t too close to bed time.
Is it OK to eat chicken every day?
Nutrition is always a bit of a puzzle in terms of what the perfect diet looks like. It’s a pretty individual thing.
In terms of health a good principle is variety in your diet. As long as chicken isn’t your one and only protein source you can create a good diet plan that includes chicken every day.
How much chicken you should eat to lose weight is also hard to put in one rule for everyone. You can find out your recommended protein intake and see how much chicken fits within that amount.
Something like a chicken only diet is not recommended. Not for weight loss and certainly not for health. Diets like this often slow down your metabolism and cause nutrient deficiencies.
Different ways to eat chicken for weight loss
Like with a lot of other foods, you can eat chicken in many different ways. Some of these other ways to eat chicken are not as good for weight loss.
Find out which chicken products you should consume and which ones you should avoid if you’re looking to lose weight.
There are many ways to make chicken wings. The best style of chicken wings for weight loss would be something along the following lines. Chicken wings, baked with some olive oil, and topped off with some healthy herbs and spices.
If you prepare chicken wings like this you can expect around 211 calories per 100 grams (4). Worse for weight loss than the 165 calories per 100 grams of boiled chicken breast but still acceptable.
Most chicken wings recipes use spice mixes with added sugar and other ingredients you want to avoid. So how good chicken wings are for weight loss depends a lot on the recipe you are using or the brand you are buying.
Grilled vs boiled vs baked chicken
Boiled chicken is overall the best way to prepare chicken for weight loss because you avoid cooking oils and fats. That being said the difference when it comes to weight loss won’t be that big between boiling, grilling and baking chicken.
Fried chicken is made by deep-frying chicken coated in flour or breadcrumbs in oil. All of this combined makes for a high-calorie food that doesn’t really fill you up that much.
Like with all foods you can still have some fried chicken at times when trying to lose weight. However, in general you want to avoid this food when trying to lose weight.
The best way to cook chicken for weight loss
The ultimate way to cook chicken for weight loss would be boiling it and topping of with some salt, healthy herbs and healthy spices.
Grilling and baking are also great methods to cook chicken. If you use the right recipes, chicken wings can also be decent for weight loss.
You want to mostly avoid fried chicken if you’re trying to lose weight.
Chicken vs other popular protein sources for weight loss
You now know how good chicken is for weight loss but how does it compare to certain other popular protein sources? Find out how good chicken is for weight loss vs turkey, beef, and eggs.
Chicken vs turkey
Turkey is a very similar kind of meat as chicken but there are some nutritional differences. If you’re only looking at calories, in this example turkey contains fewer calories. Chicken contains around 165 calories per 100 grams vs the 135 calories per 100 grams of turkey (5).
The protein content of these foods is very similar, 31 grams per 100 grams in chicken and 30.1 grams per 100 grams in turkey. Lastly, they are very similar in the amount of vitamins and minerals.
Overall, in this example the nutritional value of turkey looks better for weight loss.
Chicken vs beef
Another popular protein source is beef. Ground beef is a relatively big amount higher in calories, 259 calories per 100 grams (6).
Beef has about 26.1 grams of protein per 100 grams vs the 31 grams of chicken.These 2 foods have about the same amount of vitamins and minerals per 100 grams.
Chicken will most likely be better for weight loss than the ground beef from this example.
Chicken vs eggs
Next there is chicken vs eggs. 100 grams of eggs are slightly lower in calories than 100 grams of boiled chicken breast, 155 calories vs the 165 calories per 100 grams of eggs (7).
Eggs contain about 12.6 grams of protein per 100 grams. These 2 foods are about the same when it comes to the quantity of vitamins and minerals but with a different focus of vitamins and minerals.
All in all, the high amount of protein in chicken will most likely outweigh the slightly lower amount of calories in eggs. That would make chicken better for weight loss than eggs.
Chart of chicken vs other popular protein sources
All in all, the differences between these foods won’t make that much of a difference when it comes to losing weight. Besides maybe beef being worse. If you like all these foods equally you might as well choose the ones that are better for weight loss.
The amount of vitamins and minerals in the foods does matter for weight loss and health but you can’t simplify that in one number. You can check out the numbers for chicken (2), turkey (5), beef (6), and eggs (7) to compare.
|Values Per 100g||Chicken||Turkey||Beef||Eggs|
|Calories||165 calories||135 calories||259 calories||155 calories|
|Protein||31 g||30.1 g||26.1 g||12.6 g|