Chicken is one of the most popular sources of lean protein around the world because it offers high protein with low calories and fat per serving.

Part of chicken's appeal is its versatility. Nearly every cuisine from around the world offers a variety of chicken dishes. Chicken also has a relatively neutral taste, which makes it easy to pair with different flavorings.

Chicken comes in a variety of cuts, including:

  • breasts
  • thighs
  • drumsticks
  • wings

Each portion of the chicken contains slightly different calorie, fat, and nutritional counts.

The following is a breakdown of the nutritional value of different parts of a chicken, looking at 3.5-ounce (oz) servings in each case.

It is unlikely that any of the cuts that people find in a grocery store are cut precisely to 3.5 oz, so they need to take this into account when calculating nutritional values per portion.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommend 5.5 oz of protein per day for people consuming 2,000 calories. Again, as chicken cuts vary in size, people may want to weigh the chicken to establish its nutritional content.

The totals below are for cooked chicken without added fat or seasonings. Cooking methods and seasonings can add to calorie, fat, sodium, and sugar counts. A person who is trying to keep a healthful diet may want to consider the best ways to cook their chicken.

Chicken on a plate that has a number of caloriesShare on Pinterest
Chicken is a relatively low calorie source of lean protein.

A person should be able to find boneless, skinless chicken breasts easily at their local grocery store. The USDA itemize a typical chicken breast as about 3 oz.

In a 3.5-oz serving of cooked boneless and skinless chicken breast, a person is consuming about 165 calories.

They are also getting:

  • 31 grams (g) of protein
  • 3.6 g of fat
  • 74 milligrams (mg) of sodium
  • 1 mg of iron

Grocery stores often package chicken breasts with the bones and skin still in place. Some recipes, such as soups, may call for breasts prepared this way. However, the fat content nearly doubles in comparison to skinless and boneless, while the amount of protein decreases slightly.

In a 3.5-oz serving of cooked breast with skin and bones still in place, a person is consuming 197 calories.

They are also getting:

  • 30 g of protein
  • 7.8 g of fat
  • 71 mg of sodium
  • 1 mg of iron

The drumstick is often a popular option for people. The drumstick is the lower portion of the chicken's leg. Along with the thighs, people consider them a part of the "dark" meat on the chicken.

In a 3.5-oz serving of a cooked drumstick with skin on, a person is consuming 216 calories.

Also, they are getting:

  • 27 g of protein
  • 11.2 g of fat
  • 90 mg of sodium
  • 1.3 mg of iron

However, if a person removes the skin, the calories they are eating fall to about 175, and the amount of fat to 5.7 g.

Share on Pinterest
Chicken will contain more calories if a person leaves the skin on.

Thighs are the upper portions of the legs. Along with the drumsticks, people also refer to the thighs as the "dark" meat on the chicken.

In a 3.5-oz serving of cooked thighs with skin on, a person is consuming 229 calories.

Also, they are getting:

  • 25 g of protein
  • 15.5 g of fat
  • 84 mg of sodium
  • 1.3 mg of iron

Removing the skin reduces the calories to 209 and the fat content to 10.9 g.

Chicken wings are some of the most popular foods for appetizers and parties. They are also the least protein-rich and highest in calories of any of the cuts of chicken.

In a 3.5-oz serving of cooked wings with skin on, a person is consuming 290 calories.

Also, they are getting:

  • 27 g of protein
  • 19.5 g of fat
  • 82 mg of sodium
  • 1.3 mg of iron

If a person removes the skin, they will be consuming 203 calories and 8.1 g of fat. Removing the skin increases the protein content to 30 g.

Certain parts of the chicken, such as the breasts, often come with or without the skin. Typically, shops sell the thighs, wings, and drumsticks with the skin still on.

Skin consistently adds more calories and more fat to the chicken piece.

People who want to reduce their weight can choose to remove the skin either before or after cooking. They need to bear in mind that it is important to always include healthful amounts of fat and calories in their diet, even when trying to lose weight.

The best option is to eat skinless chicken breast, taking into account the calories, fat, and protein values of the different parts of the chicken.

The healthiest way to cook chicken is to cook without added fats. Some popular ways to do this include:

  • baking on a nonstick baking sheet
  • using cooking spray instead of oil when pan frying or baking
  • steaming
  • pressure cooking
  • grilling
  • air frying

Cooking methods that people should avoid if they want to limit calories and fat include:

  • deep frying
  • pan frying in oils or butter
  • baking with butter or oils
  • cooking in marinades with added fat, sugar, or salt

Share on Pinterest
A person can include chicken in a wide range of dishes.

Chicken is a lean protein, which means that it offers few calories relative to the quantity a person eats.

The best option for people looking to reduce their calories and avoid fat is skinless chicken breasts.

Both skinless chicken breasts and other cuts of chicken are a rich source of protein. However, the skin and cut of the chicken can add extra calories and fat.

When people add chicken to a balanced diet, it can be a healthful source of protein. Protein helps a person's body rebuild muscle and supports many other functions.

Chicken is the most healthful when people prepare it with minimal fats and without the skin.

A person should choose cooking methods such as baking, steaming, or pressure cooking to help them avoid consuming more fat and calories than they need.

When seasoning the chicken, a person can choose to use spices that do not contain extra salt and avoid marinades that may add extra sugar, salt, or fat.