The Calorie Wallet: Poultry
Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD
For many people, poultry is the go-to protein. Most people like it, since it’s got such a mild flavor, and that’s also what makes it so versatile in cooking. For the most part, poultry is lower in fat and saturated fat than red meat, so your calorie dollars usually go a little further. But the nutritional value does vary, depending on what you buy. Some people mistakenly think that poultry, in any form, is always low fat and healthy.
So let’s look at the calorie cost of various poultry products. In each case, I’m going to compare three ounces of cooked meat so you can see the difference.
- Poultry breast, whether it’s a whole piece or ground, is by far the leanest poultry you can buy. Three ounces of cooked turkey breast costs just about 110 calories. Chicken breast has a bit more fat, so the same amount will cost you another 30 calories. But either way, you’re only looking at 2-3 grams of fat per serving – and you’re spending the rest of your calories on high-quality protein.
- Dark meat contains more fat than light, and so it’ll cost you more. Three ounces of dark meat chicken or turkey will set you back about 150 calories.
- Most ground turkey is made with light and dark meat (and sometimes the skin), which increases the fat and the calories. Packaged ground turkey usually runs around 175 calories for three ounces. Some fresh products sold in the butcher case have even more fat added, and can top out at close to 200.
- Two turkey hot dogs add up to about three ounces. They also add up to 200 calories, thanks to the 16 grams of fat they contain. True, it’s less than beef or pork hot dogs, but that’s still the fat equivalent of four pats of butter.
- Chicken nuggets are even worse. Three ounces is only five nuggets – which, by the way, are a lot less than what most people eat. You’ll get the same amount of fat as in the two hot dogs, but the breaded coating boosts the calories in five nuggets to about 300.