You already know protein is essential for good health, and it’s a staple in most weight loss plans. However, how much protein you should eat gets confusing when your goal is weight loss.
Even asking the all-knowing Google “how much protein is in 8 ounces of chicken” isn’t enough to understand if eating that many grams of protein will help you reach your goals.
While some experts claim eating 8 ounces of chicken breast in a single meal will keep you feeling full, others throw out fancy words like gluconeogenesis to keep you from devouring too many high-protein foods in one sitting. See – confusing!
Keep reading to learn how to determine the right protein intake for you, as well as if protein-rich foods will help or hurt your weight loss progress.
Why You Need Protein
Protein is an essential part of any healthy diet. This is true whether you follow a standard diet, or a low carb plan. In fact, even vegetarian diets require adequate protein in order to meet your body’s needs for good health.
While most people understand it’s a good idea to eat more protein for building muscle, the benefits of a high-protein diet extend far beyond the gym. Some of the benefits of eating more protein with a weight loss goal in mind include:
- Reduced appetite and hunger
- Less cravings and late night snacking
- A boosted metabolism and increased fat burning
- Improved body repair after injury
- Helps with weight maintenance
- Increased muscle mass and strength
- Improved bone density (important to stay fit as you age)
How Much Protein Do You Need?
If you came here looking for an exact answer of how much protein to include in your daily diet, you’re out of luck. The amount of protein YOUR body requires depends on all sorts of factors. First, you need to ask questions like:
- What is your current activity level?
- Are you following a keto diet / what is your fat intake?
- Do you want to lose weight, maintain, or build muscle?
- What are your current stats? IE, height, weight, gender, etc.
General advice for protein calculations for most weight loss plans is to eat somewhere between 1g of protein per 1 kg of weight, all the way up to .8 grams of protein (or more) for every pound of body weight.
Let’s look at a 150 pound woman to see how this advice differs. Here’s the different levels of protein a 150 pound woman should eat according to various weight loss advice:
- 1g protein per KG: 68 grams of protein per day
- .8g protein per LB: 120 grams of protein per day
Since 68 grams of protein will lead to much different results than eating 120 grams of protein each day, which advice should you follow?
Protein On Keto vs. Protein for Other Plans
If you follow a keto diet, which is a low carb, moderate protein, and high healthy fat diet, then stick to the protein advice that encourages you to eat one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. In the example above, a 150 pound woman should eat in the range of 68 grams of protein each day.
Since the goal of keto is to keep fat content high, while keeping protein moderate, this could mean an 8-ounce chicken breast is off the menu.
There are 70 grams of lean protein in 8 oz of chicken breast that’s fully cooked. While a chicken breast is a great source of protein, 70 grams of protein in one meal is more than the woman in this example should eat all day.
When following a standard weight loss diet, a good rule of thumb is to keep protein to at least 30% of daily calorie intake. If you keep protein to around .8g of protein per one pound of body weight, this will set your protein ratio around 30%. This is if you stick to a moderate caloric deficit most days.
While some experts consider 30% of your daily macros from protein a high protein diet, based on simple math – this is actually a balanced diet when you keep carbs and fat at or around 30% of your daily macros.
Do Calories Matter With Higher Protein?
Ah, the age-old calories in vs. calories out debate. This one never gets old, does it?
If you know anything about me and my journey to lose 100 pounds, you know that last sentence is dripping in sarcasm. In fact, I believe relying on counting calories as a method to lose weight is THE WORST thing you can do.
At the same time, I’m not saying that you should shove in everything you see because I told you calories don’t matter. On some level they do, however, calories are far from the most important weight loss factor you should consider.
Eating enough protein is important to help keep energy needs balanced. This is true no matter which type of diet you follow. The healthiest way to lose weight is to get enough nutrients for your body to function. This includes eating more protein, plus more nutrient dense foods like vegetables.
Once your body feels satiated with the nutrients you need to thrive, the calories tend to take care of themselves. Of course, this won’t happen automatically if you haven’t taken the steps to get your digestion in order as well.
Does Chicken Have High Protein?
When asking how many grams of protein in chicken breast, once again, you have to be more specific to get accurate data. For instance, asking, “how much protein in 4 oz chicken breast?” yields a much different response then, “how much protein in 8 oz chicken breast?”
When looking at how much protein in a chicken breast per ounce, chicken is considered a high protein food. A cooked chicken breast contains 8.8 grams of protein per ounce. Protein makes up a whopping 76% of the nutritional value for a lean chicken breast.
How to Calculate Protein In Chicken
While some nutrition experts teach you to measure your main dish by portioning out meat based on the size of a deck of cards, this isn’t the best option to get results. It’s so easy to over or under estimate by an ounce of meat here, or a spoonful of fat there. These seemingly tiny variances can start to add up.
When helping our Keto Decoded Members learn how to follow macros, we teach them to use a food scale to measure portions. Most food scales convert from grams to ounces, which makes it easy to record how much protein is in 200g of chicken breast vs. how much protein is in 7 ounces. (Psst … it’s about the same).
Keep in mind, you never need to obsess over every last ounce of food. Also, you won’t need to rely on this tool forever. Still, starting your journey with a food scale is a more reliable way to understand which macro combo helps you get results.
Cooked Chicken Vs. Raw Chicken
Something else to consider when measuring the amount of protein in chicken is whether you measure the chicken before or after cooking, since cooking changes the weight of meat. For example, 8 ounces of raw chicken contains 51 grams of protein, while the protein content in 8 oz of cooked chicken is 70 grams.
The best way to calculate the nutrition facts is to weigh your serving of food after cooking since no one should eat a raw chicken breast. While fully cooked chicken is a good source of protein for most diets, eating raw chicken is a good source of salmonella in every diet.
Different Types of Chicken
Different cuts of chicken contain various amounts of protein. So far, we’ve touched on the nutrition info for a boneless chicken breast cut of meat. Let’s look at a variety of cuts to compare protein in different animal protein sources.
Chicken Breasts vs. Chicken Thighs
Once again, asking how much protein is in 4 ounces of chicken won’t always get you the same results. When it comes to a grilled chicken breast vs. a dark meat chicken thigh, for instance, the answer varies.
When looking at a lean chicken breast, a 4 oz fully cooked cut contains 35 grams of protein with a total of 196 calories. While a 4 oz chicken thigh still contains 196 calories, it only has 31.4 grams of protein.
The protein difference in these popular cuts of chicken comes down to the fat content. Chicken thighs contain more fat than chicken breasts. While the nutritional facts won’t change much when you stick to only 4 oz of chicken breast vs. chicken thigh, the difference could start to add up if you eat a lot of chicken.
Boneless Skinless Chicken Chicken Breast vs. Bone In Chicken
Some people prefer bone in chicken breasts over boneless skinless chicken breasts since keeping the skin and rib bone attached helps keep the chicken moist and tender. Keep in mind that keeping the bone in will decrease the amount of protein. Bones are heavy, which means you won’t get much chicken from a 4 oz serving of bone in chicken.
A 4 oz serving of bone-in skin on chicken breast contains 186 calories, with 23.3 grams of protein. The calories are nearly as high as a 4 oz serving of boneless skinless chicken breast since keeping the skin on the chicken also adds more fat.
Wait, is there protein in chicken skin? While you still get 5.8 grams of protein for every ounce of chicken skin you eat, you also get 11.5 grams of fat with each ounce as well.
Chicken vs. Other Protein Sources
Now that I’ve answered nearly every question you can think of when it comes to this nutrient dense food source, let’s compare the protein in chicken to other protein sources.
Which Is Higher in Protein: Chicken or Beef?
While the protein content in beef varies based on the fat percentage in the red meat you choose, let’s use 85% lean ground beef as an example since this is one of the more common cuts of beef found at your local grocery store.
Ounce per ounce, chicken contains more protein than beef. This is because red meat is higher in fat.
As established above, an ounce of cooked chicken breast contains 8.8 grams of protein per ounce. An 85% lean ground beef contains 7 grams of protein per ounce. While there isn’t too much of a difference, the protein totals can add up if you eat a lot of meat.
Chicken Protein vs. Pork Protein
Pork, commonly referred to as the other white meat, is another great source of protein. Lean pork chops, for instance, contain 8.2 g protein per ounce.
When choosing pork products over chicken, keep in mind pork is higher in calories since even lean pork is higher in fat. Also, choose clean cuts of pork to avoid unnecessary toxins.
Chicken vs. Protein Powders
Different sources of protein beyond meat include protein powders. While you may choose a protein powder over chicken since most protein powders contain dietary fiber too, this additional benefit doesn’t make protein powders the best option when your goal is weight loss.
Many protein powders contain junk ingredients that won’t help your weight loss plan. While added sugar is an obvious no-no, other weight loss inhibitors are hiding in many protein powders.
Some of these culprits, which are not listed on the product labels, include lead and cadmium. These heavy metals were found in around three quarters of powders tested. Ingesting either of these substances leads to long term health concerns.
Detectable levels of BPA are also found in around half of protein powders available, which disrupts hormones and leads to other health problems.
Beyond the poison hiding out in too many protein powders, replacing animal protein with a protein powder just isn’t as filling. A huge benefit of eating a higher protein diet is to stave off hunger. Eating protein bars or drinking protein shakes doesn’t keep you as satiated as taking the time to actually chew meat does.
Is There Protein in Chicken Broth?
One exception I make when it comes to drinking protein is when it comes to chicken broth. There’s 10 grams of protein in 8 oz of chicken broth. This protein is more filling because of all of the other essential nutrients that come along with bone broth.
Also, when you choose a clean broth made from grass-fed bones, you don’t get all of the junk that comes along with most protein powders.
Chicken Protein FAQ:
Chicken is a lean animal protein source
8 oz of chicken breast contains 70 grams of protein when it’s fully cooked.
A chicken breast is the leanest part of the chicken, so it contains the highest amount of protein. Since chicken is a lean meat, chicken gets 76% of its calories from protein.
While chicken is a great source of protein, it’s also high in your daily value for niacin, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12. Chicken also contains a good amount of riboflavin, zinc, thiamine, potassium, and copper.
Some of the healthiest ways to cook chicken include baking, roasting, grilling, pan frying, or stir frying.
Whenever you have the choice, always choose organic, pasture raised chicken. Conventionally raised meats, especially fast food versions, contain more toxins than organic. This can stall weight loss, as well as lead to other health consequences.
Use a food calculator to determine the amount of protein in the chicken nuggets you choose. Keep in mind that the breading on most nuggets, as well as the oils used, do not make chicken nuggets appropriate for a weight loss plan. Make this healthy chicken nugget recipe to get best results on a weight loss plan.
Chicken As A Protein Source – The Wrap Up
While understanding how much protein is in each ounce of chicken isn’t as vital as knowing the total macros you should follow to get the best results, after reading this blog you understand so much more about chicken as a protein source.
Speaking of getting YOUR best weight loss results, getting enough protein is a great start! However, there’s still a lot more that goes into a properly formulated diet for weight loss. This is especially true if you want to take your weight loss results to the next level with keto!
Whether you’re brand new to keto, or even if you’ve been around the keto block – check out the Keto Quick Start Course. This is the same course that’s helped hundreds of women finally lose weight – even when every other diet failed them.
This is the same plan that helped me end 20 years of yo-yo diets for good! I lost 100 pounds with this healthy plan after struggling through decades of bad weight loss advice. Let me help you get on the right track too.
How Much Protein is in 8 oz of Chicken
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