How Much Protein Is in Chicken?

How much protein is in chicken breast, thighs and other cuts? It depends on the portion size. Here's a closer look at this lean protein powerhouse.

Ever wonder why bodybuilders can’t get enough chicken? It’s not because they love the taste of chicken breast (though it’s possible to add serious flavor with our best chicken breast recipes). It’s because chicken is incredibly high in protein. How much protein in chicken depends on the cut, your portion size and other factors.

Protein is essential for building muscle. Our bodies need protein to repair cells and build new ones. Studies have found that people who eat a high-protein diet are able to build muscle, retain the muscle they have and lose fat faster.

Whether you’re looking to hit new health goals or not, protein is an essential nutrient. Looking to increase the protein in your diet? Start with chicken (and these foods that have more protein than an egg).

How Much Protein Is in Chicken Breast?

Chicken breast is considered a high-protein food. One cup of cooked, cubed chicken breast contains 43 grams of protein. About 80% of the calories in a chicken breast are from protein.

Cooked chicken breast is a great way to add protein to a salad, pasta dish, or veggie bowl.

How Much Protein Is in Chicken Thighs?

Chicken thighs have slightly less protein than chicken breasts because they contain more fat. They are also usually cheaper at the store.

A cup of cooked, boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat contains 36 grams of protein. The calories in a chicken thigh are made up of 53% protein and 47% fat.

How Much Protein Is in Chicken Drumsticks?

A chicken drumstick is the lower part of the leg, right under the thigh. A cup of cooked, cubed chicken drumstick meat contains 40 grams of protein. About 70% of the calories come from protein, and the other 30% comes from fat. A cup of chicken drumstick meat with skin has 38 grams of protein.

How Much Protein Is in Chicken Wings?

Your favorite football food is also a protein-rich snack. A chicken wing is made up of three parts: the drumette, wingette and wing tip. It is much smaller than a chicken breast, so it contains less protein. One chicken wing has 4 grams of protein. The calories from a wing are made up of 64% protein and 36% fat.

How Much Protein Should I Eat?

Healthcare providers usually recommend eating 10-35% of your calories from protein. This means that if you eat a 2000-calorie diet, the goal is to consume at least 400 calories of protein or about 100 grams each day.

When choosing a protein for your meals, opt for lean, skinless poultry like chicken breast. Look for chicken that has not been injected with fat or broth. Choose cuts that are free of antibiotics and other additives. The healthiest cooking methods include baking, broiling, stewing or roasting. You can also opt for plant-based protein like beans, lentils and nuts or fish.

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Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.