Turkey and chicken are two of the most common proteins. However, there are some differences between them that may determine which one you should add to your diet.
So, what are the differences between turkey and chicken? The main differences between turkey and chicken are that 100 g of chicken has slightly more calories (+4 kcal), less protein (-0.7 g), and more fat (+1.3 g) than 100 g of turkey. Chicken also has a lower nutritional value (lower percentages of key nutrients) than turkey.
As a registered dietitian, I recommend that people consume a variety of products to ensure they get diversity in their nutrients. But it’s important to know what those nutrients are so you can choose the food that best supports your goals.
In this article, you will find a detailed comparison between turkey and chicken to determine which one is better for your goals.
Turkey vs. Chicken: Nutritional Information
|Saturated fats (g)||0.3||0.6|
|Monounsaturated fats (g)||0.3||0.7|
|Polyunsaturated fats (g)||0.2||0.4|
Chicken and turkey have very similar calories, but chicken has 4 more calories per 100 g than turkey.
Since this is such a small difference, you shouldn’t let the calorie count alone determine which one is better for you. Four calories over the course of a day won’t significantly affect your progress whether you’re trying to lose weight or gain muscle.
Turkey has slightly more protein per 100 g than chicken (+0.7 g).
However, like the calorie content, the difference in protein content is so small that it shouldn’t be a major factor in deciding which one is better for you. Both options are good to include in your diet if you’re trying to increase your protein intake.
While there isn’t a major difference in fat content between the two, chicken has 1.3 g more fat than turkey. This makes turkey a better option if you want a slightly leaner protein cut.
Chicken also has more saturated fat than turkey (+0.3 g). However, both options are still considered low in saturated fats since they have less than one gram per serving.
Overconsumption of saturated fats (more than 7% of your total calories) can increase the risk of heart disease. So, consuming low-saturated fat options like chicken and turkey can be a heart-healthy option.
Turkey has a higher micronutrient content than chicken.
The following table compares the vitamins and minerals found in turkey and chicken. Concentrations of more than 20% are considered high, while concentrations of less than 5% are considered low.
|Ingredient||Turkey - Daily Recommended Value in 100g portion||Chicken - Daily Recommended Value in 100g portion|
The Top Nutrients In Turkey and Chicken and Their Benefits
- Niacin. Niacin helps you convert the food you eat into usable energy in the body. Studies have also shown that every 1 mg increase of dietary niacin intake can decrease the risk of high blood pressure by 2%.
- Vitamin B6. It can have an impact on your mood. People with lower levels of vitamin B6 in their blood had a greater risk of developing symptoms of depression.
- Phosphorus. Along with calcium and vitamin D, it plays a crucial role in bone health.
- Selenium. It is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation in your body.
While turkey and chicken are high in many of the same nutrients, turkey is higher in selenium, phosphorus, and vitamin B6.
On the other hand, chicken is higher in niacin.
Turkey vs. Chicken: 3 Differences
1. Taste and Texture
While there is no significant nutritional difference between turkey and chicken, there is a difference in taste and texture. Turkey has a darker and richer taste than chicken.
Turkey is also juicier than chicken, especially when you consume the cuts around the thighs.
Turkey has a juicier texture and more flavor than chicken.
2. Cooking Methods
Since turkey and chicken have similar nutritional aspects, they have a similar cooking time.
On average, it might take 10 to 15 minutes to cook a chicken breast or a turkey cutlet, depending on how thick it is.
However, cooking times differ if you cook them whole instead of in pieces. Since a whole chicken can be smaller than a whole turkey in many cases, it takes less time to cook.
On average, one whole chicken can take one to two hours to cook. On the other hand, a whole turkey can take around three to four hours to cook.
It can take twice as long to cook a turkey than chicken, so if you are trying to cut back your time in the kitchen, go with chicken.
Turkey costs twice as much as chicken. On average, chicken can cost from $3 to $5 per pound while turkey costs about $5 to $7 per pound.
The following table shows the cost of turkey and chicken in different US stores for one pound of each product.
Turkey costs twice as much as chicken. For those on a tight budget, you want to choose chicken over turkey.
Turkey vs. Chicken on Different Diets: Which Is Better
On a keto diet, you need to keep your glucose levels low. Consuming high levels of protein can affect your ketosis levels by increasing your glucose levels.
With that said, you can choose either chicken or turkey while on a ketogenic diet as long as you keep your overall protein intake to about 20% of your daily calories.
Also, since both are low in fat, you need to include high-fat foods to provide you with the necessary energy you need when carbs are restricted. Eat your chicken or turkey with foods like nuts, avocados, olive oil, and seeds to include more fats in your diet.
You can include both in your keto diet as long as your total protein intake doesn’t exceed about 20% of your daily calories. However, you need to include a high-fat source to compensate for the lack of fat in each protein.
On a paleo diet, the protein source matters greatly since it can increase inflammation.
The main goal of a paleo diet is to reduce inflammation. You can achieve this by reducing the saturated fat content and by increasing the omega-3 content. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory benefits.
Turkey and chicken are both low-saturated-fat options, so they make excellent choices for a paleo diet.
However, they are both low in omega-3, which means you want to include high omega-3 options like hemp, chia, and flaxseeds.
They are both excellent low-saturated fat protein options that won’t increase your inflammation on a paleo diet. Just be sure to eat them with foods high in omega-3s.
When intermittent fasting, you need to be careful not to drop your protein intake too low to avoid decreasing your muscle mass.
Since you have a shorter eating window, you need to pay attention to the amount of protein you eat. Both turkey and chicken are high in protein, making them ideal options when intermittent fasting.
Either chicken or turkey are good to eat if you’re intermittent fasting since they can help keep your protein intake high.
Fresh turkey and chicken are both excellent protein sources when you are doing a low-sodium diet.
The problem arises when you consume packaged turkey or chicken – for example, deli meat.
Deli meat tends to be very high in sodium. On average, deli meat can have 500 to 800 mg of sodium per serving (typically 56 g). When it comes to deli meat, make sure to stay below 400 mg per serving.
To compensate for the extra sodium in your diet, avoid adding salt to your foods or having canned foods, which also tend to be high in sodium.
Both fresh turkey and chicken are excellent options for a low-sodium diet. If you are buying deli meat, ensure it has less than 400 mg of sodium per serving.
Low FODMAP Diet
Turkey and chicken are both suitable for a low-FODMAP diet since they don’t have any carbs. For those with irritable bowel syndrome, consuming chicken or turkey is a great way to reach your protein intake.
However, be careful if they are cooked with garlic or onions since these are high in FODMAPs and can cause digestive problems.
Turkey and chicken are both low in FODMAPs, which are great protein sources to add when you have IBS.
Turkey vs. Chicken: Which Is Better For Weight Loss?
While turkey has fewer calories per 100 g than chicken (-4 kcal), the tiny difference won’t make or break your goals. You can include both when trying to lose weight.
High-protein foods, like turkey and chicken, can increase your fullness levels. This allows you to feel fuller for longer, preventing you from snacking throughout the day. In the end, this leads to a reduction in your caloric intake.
Additionally, high-protein foods can slightly increase your metabolism, which means you burn more calories.
The Winner: Tie
Chicken and turkey are both lean protein sources that can help keep you full when you’re trying to lose weight.
Turkey vs. Chicken: Which Is Better For Muscle Gain?
Turkey and chicken are both good sources of protein to include when you want to build muscle.
However, you need to be in a caloric surplus when you want to gain muscle. This means consuming more calories than your body needs to maintain its weight.
Chicken and turkey are both relatively low in calories, which can make it difficult to reach your daily calorie goals. Include other high-calorie foods like avocado, nuts, and seeds to help you reach your caloric intake.
The high protein content of both chicken and turkey can support your muscle-building goals.
However, if you have trouble eating enough calories to be in a caloric surplus, combine them with other high-calorie foods.
Practical Recommendations: Eating Turkey vs. Chicken
Mix Them Up
Eating different foods can provide you with different types of nutrients. Your body needs to consume different nutrients to prevent any nutritional deficiency.
As seen in the article, while they might seem the same, turkey and chicken have different properties, which is why mixing them up is always good.
Choose the One You Like
Eating should be a pleasant experience. So, if you are forcing yourself to have chicken or turkey because it’s good for you, it is not a healthy habit.
You shouldn’t eat foods you don’t enjoy even if they may be good for you. Make sure to always choose those foods that appeal the most to you.
Track Your Food
Turkey and chicken are similar in terms of calories and macronutrients. But it is still important to track your food if you want to know how much you’re eating.
Measuring and tracking your food can help you stay on track with your eating choices to ensure you are getting enough calories and hitting your macros.
Cook Them in Different Ways
Finally, chicken and turkey can be very bland protein options, especially the breasts. Make sure you try new recipes to add flavor to your meals.
Here are some recipes to help you get started:
- Broccoli chicken casserole
- One pan balsamic vinegar chicken
- Korean-style ground turkey
- Oven roasted turkey breast
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About The Author
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