How Much Protein is in Chicken?
People tend to make changes to their eating habits for a few reasons: they want to become a more ethical consumer, they have health concerns that a dietary change may help with, or they are focusing on exercise and fitness. Sometimes, all three are true, and that’s actually how Pasturebird was formed.
Farmer Paul had always been healthy and active, from a background as a student athlete through his time in the Marine Corps. Still, he began experiencing achy joints that morphed into full blown arthritis in his early 20s. Through contacts in the fitness industry, he learned about the Paleo diet, and after making some lifestyle and dietary changes his symptoms began to subside after just a couple of weeks! This led to a major lifestyle shift and a desire to become more educated about food choices and healthful eating. Ultimately, Farmer Paul and his family learned that it can be tough to trust food labels, and what began as a mission to source healthier food turned into a whole different type of mission. That’s a story for a different post (or several - you can read all about our commitment to regenerative agriculture and transparency on our other blog posts), but in this post, we’ll highlight some of the nutritional benefits of pasture raised chicken and the reasons people may choose to incorporate pasture raised chicken into their diets, whether because they also follow a Paleo lifestyle or they simply want the best possible food options available.
One of the core tenets of the paleo lifestyle is eating as our hunter-gatherer ancestors did, and that means putting a big emphasis on protein. Since pasture raised chicken boasts both higher protein content and lower fat than many other meat sources, it’s ideal for this type of diet. Even if you don’t follow a paleo diet, incorporating whole food sources of lean protein is a good addition to any omnivore diet, and chicken is a perfect source due to its low saturated fat content and high amounts of protein. As an added bonus, eating 25-30 grams of protein at every meal can help promote healthy weight management by making us feel full longer, without depriving the body of essential nutrients. Obtaining adequate protein is easier than you think, and pasture raised chicken is one of the best sources of lean protein.
Why is Protein Important?
Before we delve into the protein content of pasture raised chicken, let’s explore why protein is important in the first place.
Protein, like most essential nutrients, isn’t just important on a macro level, but on a cellular (or micro) level as well. In fact, every cell in the human body contains protein. From the outside in, protein is essential for hair, skin, and nail growth, as well as for the growth and repair of muscles, bones, and cartilage. Simply put, without adequate protein, the body cannot build and repair cells. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that you incorporate adequate protein into your diet. Protein is important for everyone, but particularly growing babies and children, pregnant women, and those who exercise regularly and need extra help to build and repair muscles.
According to this article published by Harvard Health Publishing, you can determine how much protein your body needs by multiplying your weight in pounds by .36 (that’s point three six - we don’t want anyone OD-ing on protein!) This will give you the amount of protein, in grams, that your body needs to stay alive. That means that if you’re a sedentary adult, this is the amount of protein you’ll eat to keep your body adequately nourished. If you are active or looking to build muscle, then this amount should increase accordingly.
In addition to making sure you’re consuming enough protein for your body, you’ll also want to pay attention to the sources of your protein. While protein supplements can be good in a pinch, for a meal on the go or after a strenuous workout. Ideally most of your protein (and really most of your nutrients in general) should come from whole food nutrition.
Why is Pasture Raised Chicken an Ideal Source of Protein?
A study of pasture raised chicken as compared to other sources of chicken has found that not only is pasture raised chicken lower in fat and saturated fat, but pasture raised chicken is actually higher in protein as well, making the protein to fat ratio ideal. One of the main arguments for plant based eating (from a nutrition perspective, anyway) is that diets high in animal products also tend to be higher in fat. This is a valid concern, and although we’re not nutritionists, we’re of the mind that as long as you’re eating mostly whole foods, and incorporating plenty of fruits and vegetables into your diet, this worry shouldn’t stop you from obtaining protein sources from animal products.
If you’re wondering exactly how much protein is in chicken, a 4 oz serving of pasture raised chicken provides approximately 32-36 grams of protein. For many, that’s at least half of the daily recommended value of protein. In addition, pasture raised chicken is lower in saturated fat than conventional chicken, as well as containing significantly more omega 3s and vitamins A and E than conventionally sourced chicken.
No matter what your reasons for wanting to eat more protein, incorporating pasture raised chicken into your diet is an excellent way to achieve your goals, because it provides ample protein while also being low in saturated fats and high in vitamins and nutrients. If you’re looking for the leanest protein source, chicken breasts tend to be lower in fat than other cuts such as thighs, but chicken in general is a great source of lean protein, no matter which cut of meat you choose or prefer to consume.
If you need help figuring out how to incorporate more protein-rich chicken into your diet, check out the Pasturebird blog for recipe inspiration. We have lots of posts that provide recipe ideas for different cuts of chicken, from breasts, to thighs, to wings, and even whole chicken recipes.