Protein is a building block of muscles. Most bodybuilders, powerlifters, and virtually every strength sport athletes use chicken breast protein to help them achieve their fitness objectives. Consuming the right amount of protein is crucial for building muscle, and chicken breast protein can help you do just that.
Chicken breast is an excellent source of lean protein. It does not contain much fat, and jam packs a hefty portion of protein into each serving. Plus, it is usually a safe option for individuals on a high-protein or low-calorie diet, whether eating out or cooking at home.
The benefits of eating a high-protein diet go beyond building muscle mass. Conversely, impaired muscle growth, weakened immune system, and slow metabolism are a few issues faced by individuals who don’t get enough protein face.
Follow along as we break down the need-to-knows of chicken breasts, including their macronutrients, ways to cook them, and more.
What Are the Macros of Chicken Breast?
According to the USDA, one 3.5-ounce (100 grams) serving of chicken breast provides 151 calories, 31 grams of protein, and 3.1 grams of fat. With this, it is easy to see that chicken is mostly protein, contains no carbs, and little amounts of fat.
These macro estimates are for boneless, skinless chicken breasts, raw or uncooked, with nothing added. Adding ingredients like sauces, oils, or marinades can change the total calories, fat, and carbs.
Since chicken breast is a low-calorie food and about 80% of the calories come from protein, it is an excellent option for individuals on a weight-loss diet.
Protein must be a vital part of every person’s diet, especially for individuals trying to gain muscle. Studies show that meeting your daily protein intake goal can be instrumental in muscle development and preservation and promote protein synthesis when we evenly distribute our protein across various meals. (1)
The exact amount of protein you need has long been debated by doctors, nutritionists, personal trainers, and others in the fitness industry. Per popular opinion, sedentary adults need roughly 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. However, if you want to gain muscle, that number should be closer to 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Every 3.5 ounces of chicken breast provides 31 grams of protein, making it a great option for anyone trying to reach their daily protein goal.
Chicken breast is carbohydrate-free by nature. Because it doesn’t contain any starch or sugar, it is a great food for individuals looking to eat low-carb.
In addition to its low-carb content, boneless, skinless chicken breast contains low fat. For every 3.5-ounce serving, there are only about 3 grams of fat. Of that fat content, it is largely unsaturated, with less than 1 gram being saturated. The fat content of chicken with skin doubles from 3 grams to around six.
Vitamins and Minerals
While chicken is not as high in vitamins as red meat, it does contain a noteworthy amount of selenium, which can protect against cell damage and infections. It also holds a good amount of vitamin B6 and niacin, which are water-soluble B vitamins that help your body function properly.
Benefits of Eating Adequate Protein
From strengthening your bones and helping you gain muscle mass to reducing your cravings, getting adequate protein can help you achieve your fitness goals. Since chicken is high in protein and low in both carbs and fat, it is a great food for anyone looking for a well-rounded diet.
Reducing Hunger Levels
For years, nutritionists and personal trainers have recommended their clients high-protein diets for weight loss. Studies show that protein is the most filling of the three macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat). Protein takes longer to digest than carbs, making you feel fuller for longer and stave off those unwanted cravings. (2)
Plenty of studies and articles discuss the varying ways you can boost your metabolism. Eating high levels of protein is a good place to start. But how does doing so increase your metabolism, you ask? Everything you eat requires different amounts of energy to digest and absorb; this process is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). However, different macros take varying amounts of energy to absorb. Studies show protein has a higher thermic effect than fat and carbs, making it harder to digest, which burns more calories and boosts metabolism. (2)
Increasing Muscle Mass
Many people eat high amounts of protein to gain muscle. For decades, bodybuilders, powerlifters, and strongmen have used high-protein diets to get bigger and stronger. Protein is crucial for developing muscle.
Improving Bone Health
Studies have shown that in tandem with adequate amounts of vitamin D and calcium, sufficient amounts of protein can benefit bone health. This is especially true for seniors, as they experience a natural decline in bone mass and density with age. One study stated that dietary protein can increase calcium absorption, which is vital for muscle health. It also mentioned high protein intake helped improve muscle mass and strength over time, which can lead to stronger and healthier bones. (3, 4)
Enhancing Mental Health
Many people do not realize the connection between mental health and brain function and the foods we eat. Protein is made up of amino acids, which play a crucial role in almost everything in our bodies. From repairing muscle to aiding in the production of key neurotransmitters in our brains, protein and amino acids play a more significant role in our bodies than just helping us build muscle.
Two Best Ways to Cook Chicken Breast
There are many different yet straightforward and delicious ways to cook chicken breasts. From sauteing them in a pan with stir-fried vegetables to throwing them on the grill with your favorite seasoning, there’s a recipe for everyone.
Here are two simple and healthy ways to cook chicken breasts:
- Chicken breasts
- Your favorite seasoning
- Barbeque or your choice of sauce
- Your choice of oil (if desired)
- Marinating the chicken breasts for a few hours before cooking will keep the chicken moist and add flavor. If you do not have time to marinate it ahead of time, throw on your seasoning, sauce, and oil before preheating your grill.
- Preheat your grill to 375°F or 400°F and use a scraper to remove anything left over from previous use.
- Once your grill is heated, add the chicken directly onto the grill and close the grill.
- Let the chicken cook on one side for 6-8 minutes, then flip it to the other.
- Cook for 6–8 more minutes before you check its internal temperature.
- Take the chicken off the girl and use a meat thermometer to check the temperature. When it has reached 165°F, it is done and ready to eat.
- Transfer your cooked chicken to a clean plate and enjoy!
- Start by preheating your oven to 400°F.
- While the oven is heating up, rub your chicken with the seasoning, oil, sauce, or marinade of your choice.
- Assemble the chicken breasts in a single layer on a baking sheet or an oven-safe glass dish.
- Bake the chicken for around 18–22 minutes or until your chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Take your chicken out of the oven and let it cool off before you dig in.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are you still looking for more information on chicken breast protein and its benefits? Follow along as we answer some of the top questions on the topic.
How much protein is in one chicken breast?
The answer to this depends on the type and size of the chicken breast. Generally speaking, one 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of chicken skinless breast provides 151 calories (31 grams of protein and 3.1 grams of fat). Note that adding a sauce or marinade may change the amount of calories, fat, and protein.
Is chicken breast very healthy?
Chicken breasts are one of the best sources of lean protein. Eating them in tandem with other protein sources can help aid in muscle growth and repair, boost your immune system and metabolism, and much more. Plus, chicken breasts contain essential vitamins and nutrients such as selenium, vitamin B6, and niacin.
What is the best way to cook chicken breasts?
There is no shortage of ways to cook chicken breasts. In the summer or during the warmer months, cooking chicken on the grill is both easy and healthy. The grill marks give the chicken that extra crunch and smoky flavor, so you won’t have to add a bunch of sauce or seasoning. Another easy way to cook chicken is by putting it in your standard oven for 20 minutes at 400°F.
Is chicken better than ground beef?
Chicken and beef are both excellent sources of protein. Chicken is an extremely lean meat, so you don’t have to worry about draining any excess fat like you might have to with ground beef. It is also pretty inexpensive, which is always a bonus. Beef, on the other hand, contains more fat, even if you get a leaner version like 93/7, and can be pricier. However, beef has higher levels of essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, and B12. That said, your diet has room for both beef and chicken. Both are great protein sources and can give you the nutrients you need to remain healthy.
For years, gym-goers have used chicken to build bigger and stronger muscles. As far as meat goes, it is one of the leanest types you can get. One 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of chicken skinless breast provides 151 calories, 31 grams of protein, and 3.1 grams of fat, making it a great option for individuals looking to build muscle.
It is also fairly inexpensive, so you can build muscle without breaking the bank. Not to mention, there are so many ways to cook chicken, so you’ll never get bored with eating the same thing over and over again. If you haven’t already, add chicken breasts to your diet for added muscle gain, a boost in metabolism, better bone health, and more!
- Carbone JW, Pasiakos SM. Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit. Nutrients. 2019;11(5):1136. Published 2019 May 22. doi:10.3390/nu11051136
- Halton TL, Hu FB. The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety, and weight loss: a critical review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Oct;23(5):373-85. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2004.10719381. PMID: 15466943.
- Mangano KM, Sahni S, Kerstetter JE. Dietary protein is beneficial to bone health under conditions of adequate calcium intake: an update on clinical research. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2014 Jan;17(1):69-74. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000013. PMID: 24316688; PMCID: PMC4180248.
- Bonjour JP. Protein intake and bone health. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2011 Mar;81(2-3):134-42. doi: 10.1024/0300-9831/a000063. PMID: 22139564.