Chicken Breast Vs Chicken Leg Vs Whole Chicken

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I distinctly remember relishing chicken legs more than any other part of the chicken. And, that’s what most Indians have grown up eating.

I could decipher the puzzle about the chicken breast issue, when I started doing my research in the field of historical development of bodybuilding and strength training. Never it had happened anywhere in the world, in its entire history, that people threw away certain parts of an animal before consuming it (except for the parts to be discarded like the hair, feathers, feet etc.).

Humans started hunting animals for food quite early in evolution, and bigger the animal, more the meat they had for consumption, which meant better survival. But bigger the animal, more difficult was to hunt it, and more the skills and hard work needed.

Remember, the ultimate aim of human species is not to have six packs abs and have fat free and gluten free meals; but simply one thing: that’s survival. Anything which interfered in this natural process of human species was unacceptable to the body. This is how our body is designed and we still carry those genes of our hunter gatherer forefathers.

Once, a big animal was hunted, every part was used. Even the skin was used for clothing (and is still being used for leather). Throwing away a part of the animal because it had a bit fatter, and consuming other parts because they are leaner, was something their mental faculties could never even comprehend.

One of the primary reasons why eating chicken breasts out of the whole chicken, became famous was because its low in fat. This is the most stupid thing one can do, when consuming animal meat. Most Indians loved their chicken legs, and still do. But somehow people who loved chicken legs have shifted on the chicken breasts.

(SOURCE: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference)

Chicken is a rich source of dietary protein. Many people believe that when it comes to calorie calculation and weight loss, then the leanest part of the chicken vs the other parts will make a difference. No, it won’t do anything. You don’t get fat because you are eating 5-10cal extra. It’s due to a big calorie surplus for a very long time, combined with multiple other reasons like sedentarism and lifestyle stresses.

The chicken leg has two parts — the thigh and the drumstick. The drumstick is the lower part of the chicken leg, also known as the calf, which Indians call as the ‘leg piece’. If we actually compare the amount of fat in the chicken breasts and leg, the difference is hardly couple of grams.

In terms of flavour, the legs win hands down. Because of the naturally higher good fat content, they have a much more intense flavour than the breasts. Chicken thighs are also called as the dark meat, because the chicken’s legs are more active and contain more myoglobin. This molecule helps provide active muscles with oxygen and also makes them darker.

But what is not considered is the overall micronutrient content of the thighs and the breasts. Acc. to source, the serving of chicken thigh meat provides you with 30 percent of the daily value for niacin, 15 percent of the DV for phosphorus, vitamin B-6 and zinc and 10 percent of the DV for riboflavin. The chicken breast meat contains less of some micronutrients, providing only 6 percent of the DV for zinc and riboflavin, but more of others, providing 60 percent of the DV for niacin, 25 percent of the DV for vitamin B-6 and 20 percent of the DV for phosphorus.

Now, you would not like to give up the tastier and mineral rich chicken legs because you are getting  few grams of less fat and some extra protein?

The final take, relish the entire chicken. Every part of the chicken has its own flavour. The super calorie conscious are better off eating chicken without the skin, in terms of parts, you can have any part.