Shrimp and chicken are excellent sources of lean protein. In fact, both of them made our list of top 50 protein sources (shrimp coming in at #2).
However, each has a unique nutritional profile outside of just protein, which may mean one is better for you than the other.
The main differences between shrimp and chicken are that chicken is higher in calories than shrimp (+35 kcal) and has a higher protein content (+2.4 g) per 100g. However, shrimp is lower in fat (-2.1 g).
Remember that a healthy diet means having a variety of foods. The more nutrients you add, the less likely you will have a nutritional deficiency.
In this article, you’ll learn the pros and cons of shrimp and chicken. You’ll also learn the differences between each food’s nutrient profiles and which is better for various dietary preferences.
Shrimp vs. Chicken: Nutritional Information
The following table compares the nutritional value of 100 g of raw shrimp and chicken.
|Saturated fats (g)||0.1||0.6|
|Monounsaturated fats (g)||0.1||0.7|
|Polyunsaturated fats (g)||0.2||0.4|
Chicken has more calories than shrimp (+35 kcal).
Because of this, chicken might be a better option for those trying to build muscle since you need a caloric surplus (eating more calories than your body needs to gain weight).
On the other hand, shrimp might be a better option for those on a weight loss journey since it is lower in calories.
With that said, both are low-calorie, lean proteins compared to other protein sources like salmon. So, while chicken has more calories than shrimp, an extra 35 calories in one meal won’t completely derail your progress. You can still include it on a weight loss journey.
Chicken has more protein (+2.4 g) compared to shrimp.
Protein plays an essential role in the body. It helps support muscle mass, increases fullness levels, and slightly increases metabolism.
Even though chicken has slightly more protein than shrimp, both are excellent protein options. But if you struggle to eat enough protein, you may want to eat more chicken than shrimp, especially if you eat the same protein source at multiple meals throughout the day.
Both options are low in fat, making them ideal for those that require a low-fat diet. However, shrimp is slightly lower in fat than chicken. Shrimp has 0.5 g of fat per 100 g, while chicken has 2.6 g. This means that chicken has +2.1 g of fat.
Since they are lean protein options, they are also low in saturated fats. Research shows that a high saturated fat diet may increase the risk of heart disease.
However, when it comes to chicken, you need to be careful with the cut you choose. Make sure to choose chicken breast (the one we are talking about in this article) since other options, like chicken thighs, are higher in fat. In 100 g of raw chicken thighs, you get 9.6 g of fat.
There is a difference in the micronutrient content (vitamins and minerals) between shrimp and chicken. However, there is no clear winner among them. This is because while shrimp is high in one nutrient, chicken is high in another.
For example, shrimp is high in vitamin D, while chicken is high in niacin. This just goes to show that eating a variety of different foods and protein sources is important, not just relying on one or another.
The following table compares the nutritional value of shrimp and chicken. Those nutrients that supply more than 20% of the daily recommended value are considered high, while those below 5% are considered low.
The Top Nutrients in Shrimp and Their Benefits
- Vitamin D. Studies have shown that it can help regulate mood by decreasing symptoms of depression. It can also help boost immune function.
- Phosphorus. It can help promote good bone health.
- Selenium. It is a powerful antioxidant that can reduce inflammation in the body. It can also boost immune function and reduce the risk of heart disease. Research shows that a 50% increase in selenium blood levels can reduce the risk of heart disease by 24%.
The Top Nutrients in Chicken and Their Benefits
- Niacin. Vitamin B3 helps convert foods into energy your body can use. It can also help reduce blood pressure. Every additional gram of niacin you consume can reduce blood pressure by 2%.
- Vitamin B12. It helps form red blood cells, which transport oxygen and nutrients in the body. Also, it can help support bone health.
Chicken is also high in selenium. In fact, it has a higher selenium content than shrimp.
Shrimp vs. Chicken: 4 Differences
1. Taste and Texture
Chicken has a firmer texture than shrimp. It also has a more earthy flavor, while shrimp has a seafood, sweet, and mild taste.
Since they both have a low-fat content, they can be bland. For that reason, you might want to add herbs, spices, and fats (like oils) to boost their flavor.
Chicken has a more earthy flavor and firmer texture, making it a very versatile protein. However, this comes down to personal preference.
2. Cooking Methods
One of the benefits of both proteins is that you can use different cooking methods like baking, simmering, pan-frying, sauteing, and air frying.
However, the difference depends on the cooking time.
Shrimp has a shorter cooking time than chicken. It only takes 5-8 minutes to cook. You need to be careful not to overcook it because it can become rubbery.
On the other hand, chicken can take 10-15 minutes or even longer to cook, depending on how thick it is and the cooking method.
For those that need to save time in the kitchen, shrimp is a better choice since it takes less time to cook.
Another big difference between shrimp and chicken is the price. Shrimp costs twice as much as chicken. On average, one pound of chicken costs around $4 to $5. However, one pound of shrimp costs around $8 to $10.
The following table compares the costs of one pound of shrimp and chicken in some of the top supermarket brands in the US.
Since chicken is generally cheaper than shrimp, it is a better option for those who have a high protein requirement or are on a tight budget.
Also, you can find chicken in different cuts like breasts, thighs, and wings. Shrimp, on the other hand, is usually only available whole.
Chicken has a lower price than shrimp, so it’s an ideal option for those on a tight budget.
4. Omega-3 Content
Another difference between shrimp and chicken is the omega-3 content. Shrimp has 540 mg of omega-3 while chicken has 40 mg. This means that shrimp has 13 times more omega-3 than chicken.
So, why are omega-3 fatty acids important?
Nowadays, there is a large intake of omega-6 content, which can increase inflammation.
On the other hand, omega-3 fatty acids can help decrease inflammation. The higher the consumption of omega-3, the lower the inflammation in the body.
If you want to reduce inflammation in the body, it’s better to include shrimp rather than chicken in your diet.
Shrimp has a higher omega-3 content, making it the better option to help reduce inflammation.
Shrimp vs. Chicken: Which Is Better for Weight Loss?
Shrimp is a better option for weight loss than chicken. Shrimp only has 85 kcal per 100 g, while chicken has 120 kcal per 100 g. This means there is a 35 kcal difference between chicken and shrimp. It’s not a huge difference, but the calories can add up if you eat large portions of chicken at more than one meal during the day.
As mentioned before, to lose weight, you need to be in a caloric deficit. This means consuming fewer calories than you burn through exercise and non-exercise activities (including life-sustaining functions like your heart pumping).
When reducing calories, it might become a struggle to tame hunger. Increased hunger can lead to more snacking. However, since shrimp and chicken are both high in protein, it can prevent this from happening. Protein plays a crucial role in weight loss since it helps maintain muscle mass and increase fullness levels.
But while both are lean protein options, shrimp has less than one gram of fat per 100 g. So, it’s ideal for those with a very low fat intake when trying to lose weight (like bodybuilders).
With that said, it doesn’t mean that chicken is a bad option for weight loss. It is still low in calories and fat (just not as low as shrimp) and can fit into a weight loss meal plan.
The Winner: Shrimp
It has 35 kcal less than chicken, which can make it easier to achieve a caloric deficit.
Shrimp vs. Chicken: Which Is Better for Muscle Gain?
Chicken is a better option for muscle gain than shrimp since it has more calories (+35 kcal) and protein (+2.4 g). To gain muscle, you need to be in a caloric surplus and have a good protein intake since protein is the building block for muscle mass.
For these reasons, if you have trouble reaching your caloric or protein intake, chicken can be a better option than shrimp.
With that said, both are also low-calorie proteins, so it might be hard to reach the desired caloric intake. You might need to include high-calorie foods like avocado, nuts, and olives to help you reach your calorie requirements.
Chicken has a slightly higher calorie content than shrimp, which can make it easier to reach a caloric surplus.
Shrimp vs. Chicken on Different Diets: Which Is Better?
Chicken can be a better option on a keto diet due to its higher fat content.
That said, chicken is still lower in fat compared to other options like salmon. So, if you want to include it on a keto diet, you need to include other fat sources like avocado, nuts, seeds, butter, or oils.
If you want to include shrimp, you can also add it to a keto diet as long as you add a fat source to boost the calories and fat content.
Chicken has slightly more fat than shrimp, but the difference is not that big. Thus, you might still need to include other fat sources like butter or avocado.
One of the main goals of the paleo diet is to reduce inflammation, which you can accomplish by adding foods higher in omega-3 content.
Shrimp has a higher omega-3 content than chicken, making it a better option for a paleo diet.
If you want to include chicken, you can add high omega-3 sources like chia or hemp seeds along with chicken.
Shrimp has more omega-3 than chicken, which can have a more significant effect on inflammation in the body.
Both options are suitable for intermittent fasting.
But, if you have trouble reaching your caloric intake while fasting, chicken is a more suitable option since it has more calories.
While you want to be in a caloric deficit to lose weight, decreasing calories too much can have a massive effect on your metabolism.
So, chicken might be a better option for those struggling to reach their caloric intake.
While both are great options to include if you practice intermittent fasting, chicken might be a better option for those struggling to reach their caloric intake.
Both chicken and shrimp are good options to include on a low-sodium diet since they are naturally low in sodium.
Practical Recommendations: Eating Shrimp vs. Chicken
Mix Them Up
Consuming different foods plays an important role in a healthy diet. As we saw above, there are some key nutrients in chicken and others in shrimp. Including both in your diet can help prevent any nutritional deficiency.
But this doesn’t mean you should only have shrimp and chicken. Remember to add other protein options like salmon, halibut, Mahi Mahi, and lamb.
Choose the One You Like
While one might be better for you than the other, there is no point in forcing yourself to have it if you don’t like it.
If you hate shrimp, you don’t have to eat it. The same applies to chicken.
A healthy diet means consuming the foods you are comfortable eating. A meal should be a pleasant thing rather than something you dread.
Track Your Food
Tracking food with a calorie-counting app can allow you to stay within your calories and macros to reach your desired goals.
For example, if you are on a weight gain journey and switch from chicken to shrimp, you may need to add more calories to compensate for the lower caloric content. You can add some oil or avocado to increase the meal’s calories.
Cook Them in Different Ways
Here are some of my favorite recipes for cooking shrimp and chicken that can add variety to your meals:
- Garlic butter chicken
- Creamy coconut milk chicken
- Honey garlic butter shrimp and broccoli
- Garlic butter shrimp pasta
Consuming the same protein over and over again can become boring. Searching for different ways to cook chicken and shrimp allows you to stay within your meal plan.
Other Food Comparisons With Shrimp and Chicken
About The Author
Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist. In addition to being an author for FeastGood.com, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.