Chicken breast is the primary whole-food protein source for many bodybuilders. This makes sense because it’s low in calories and high in protein. However, should a dieting bodybuilder gravitate toward dark meat or white meat? And does either help or hinder the ability of younger guys seeking to add quality mass?
Are you trying to cut calories or carbs? Neither white nor dark meat contains any carbs. When you’re dieting you need saturated fats to improve satiety and support hormone production. We’ve been beating the drum, encouraging bodybuilders to emphasize saturated fats for boosting hormones such as testosterone while also suggesting that they supplement omega-3s because they’re vastly underrepresented in American and even bodybuilding diets. Therefore, bodybuilders should focus on quality cuts of organic chicken rather than worrying about white or dark meat. Hard-gainers and those seeking to add mass can also consume the skin, which is almost all fat, if they’re partial to it.
The FDA prohibits the use of added hormones in the production of poultry in the U.S. So when you see “no hormones added” or “raised without hormones” on poultry packaging, it’s essentially an empty marketing term.
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Besides being affordable, there are several benefits of including chicken thighs if you are a bodybuilder. Here is a list of the top three reasons why you should incorporate it into your diet.
Although they are high in fat, they are a good protein source. This can help you increase your protein intake without affecting your wallet for those on a tight budget since they are cheaper than chicken breasts.
A bodybuilder might need around 150-200 g of protein daily, and this might be a lot of protein for someone, and it can get expensive.
The most common thing my clients complain about chicken breast is its dryness. They say that it is very dry and not tasty. Dark meat (chicken thighs) is juicier and more flavorful compared to chicken breast.
This might help a bodybuilder in a bulking phase to add on the calories since they find the dish more delicious. While those who find the plate not as pleasing might not want to consume the entire plate, they will be forced to eat it. Not a very pleasant or favorable relationship to have with food.
Chicken thighs are higher in a component called myoglobin. This is the protein that helps carry oxygen around the body. That is why chicken thighs are red-looking compared to chicken breasts that are whiter.
Myoglobin helps deliver oxygen to your muscles which is essential for you to move during your training session. Usually, the more myoglobin the protein has, it is usually richer in nutrients, bringing more nutritional value.
Chicken thighs is on our list of high calorie, low sodium foods (click to read more food choices that fit this category)
Chicken Thighs vs. Chicken Breast: Which Is Better For Bodybuilding?
So, what is the difference between chicken breast and chicken thighs? Are they really that different?
In 100 g of chicken breast, you can find the following nutritional information.
If we compare, the calories might not differ too much from one another, as you can see. Chicken thighs only have 63 kcal more than chicken breast. For some, this might be insignificant.
However, the major difference between chicken thighs and chicken breasts comes from the macronutrient content. While chicken thighs have 16 g of protein per 10 g, chicken breast has twice that amount (32 g). For a bodybuilder, this might be a better option since they have a larger protein necessity.
The fat content also has a significant difference. While chicken thighs have 16 g of fat, chicken breast has only 3 g. If you are in a cutting phase, this might make or break the results you are after.
Can You Eat Chicken Thighs After Workouts?
Chicken thighs are ok to have after a workout. There might be better options available to increase your protein intake, but it is better to have them post-workout than before training. It provides the protein you need for muscle building, and it gives fats, which help provide calories for muscle growth.
After training, you need a protein source to help your muscles recover and grow. Chicken thighs are a great protein source that provides all the essential benefits for optimal muscle growth.
However, keep in mind that it does contain a substantial amount of fat, which you need to be careful of especially if you are in a cutting phase where the calories need to be thoroughly controlled.
Remember that you need to add a carb source to replenish the energy lost during your workout session. This will prevent the protein you consume from the chicken thighs from being used as energy. You can add a carb source like corn or quinoa.
Want to learn more about fats after a workout? Check out Should You Eat Fat After A Workout? (No, Here’s Why)
Why is chicken thigh better than breast?
Which chicken part is best for bodybuilding?
Any good cook knows that fat is flavor, and that is yet another reason why thighs are superior to breasts. Chicken thighs are a fattier cut of meat, which means they’re going to have more intense, rich flavor than their white meat counterparts.
Can you get shredded eating chicken thighs?