Turkey vs Chicken: Which Has More Protein

Turkey vs Chicken Nutrition Facts

The nutritional value of turkey and chicken are very different. Both types of poultry have similar amount of calories, but the type of protein varies. For example, one pound (454 grams) of ground beef contains 1,000 calories while one pound (454 grams) of lean ground turkey contains only 546 calories. A serving size for chicken consists mainly from the thigh area with other parts being used as well.

One cup (237 ml) of cooked chicken thigh contains 130 calories and 3 g fat.

Protein is a macronutrient which provides energy to your muscles and organs. Muscle tissue needs protein to build up and repair itself after exercise or injury. Without enough protein, muscle will atrophy and eventually stop working properly. Protein helps maintain healthy skin, hair, nails, bones, teeth, heart health and many other vital functions that keep us alive!

Chicken is considered to be a higher quality protein than turkey due to its higher concentration of essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are those found in proteins that cannot be synthesized by the human body. These include leucine, isoleucine, valine and threonine. All three of these essential amino acids are present in chicken meat at levels greater than those found in most meats.

One notable exception is turkey liver, which has a higher concentration of threonine than chicken.

So which one has more protein, chicken or turkey?

The answer actually depends upon the type of food and the method of preparation. A 3 ounce (85 grams) serving of roasted skinless chicken contains 27 grams of protein while the same serving size of baked turkey meatloaf contains 25.6 grams of protein. Ground turkey and ground chicken, on the other hand, contain 21.1 and 20.3 grams of protein per 3 ounce (85 gram) serving, respectively.

Turkey vs Chicken: Which Has More Protein?

Both types of poultry are excellent sources of high quality protein. Most people know that chicken is a very healthy choice; however, there are some drawbacks when it comes to chicken. The main concern is the high amount of sodium in most types of chicken. A 3 ounce (85 gram) serving of roasted chicken contains 673 mg of sodium while the same serving size of roasted turkey contains a much lower amount of sodium, only 208 mg.

The other issue with chicken is the potential risk of salmonella poisoning. The risk of salmonella poisoning is very low and can be avoided by thoroughly cooking chicken, but it still is a concern. It is recommended that you cook your chicken to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees (74 degrees Celsius). If you don’t have a reliable way of verifying the temperature of cooked meat, cut into the thickest part to confirm that there is no pink left.

Cooking turkey to this temperature would result in a very dry, tasteless meal. The best way to avoid salmonella poisoning is to cook your chicken until it is well done. This, of course, results in a loss of healthy nutrients such as moisture and flavor.

There are a few ways to reduce the amount of sodium in your poultry, including rinsing canned chicken or using lower sodium sauce when cooking. You can also try to find a low-sodium, no-salt added version of a recipe that you enjoy. If you have access to a bread maker, you can try making low-sodium, whole wheat bread and use it as a sandwhich wrap in place of saltines or another high sodium bread option.

So back to the question at hand: Which has more protein, chicken or turkey?

The answer is both chickens and turkeys are excellent sources of high quality protein.

Sources & references used in this article:

Physicochemical and functional properties of gelatins extracted from turkey and chicken heads by L Du, Z Khiari, Z Pietrasik, M Betti – Poultry science, 2013 – Elsevier

Determination of and corrections to sequences of turkey and chicken troponins-C. Effects of Thr-130 to Ile mutation on Ca2+ affinity. by K Golosinska, JR Pearlstone, T Borgford… – Journal of Biological …, 1991 – ASBMB

Mass spectrometric characterization and redox instability of turkey and chicken myoglobins as induced by unsaturated aldehydes by NB Maheswarappa, C Faustman… – Journal of agricultural …, 2009 – ACS Publications

Heat conditioning induces heat shock proteins in broiler chickens and turkey poults by S Wang, FW Edens – Poultry science, 1998 – Elsevier

The effects of different levels of non‐fat dry milk and whey powder on emulsion capacity and stability of beef, turkey and chicken meats by S Kurt, O Zorba – International journal of food science & …, 2005 – Wiley Online Library