The question which is commonly asked about chicken and eggs is “which came first?”. But for those who are looking for protein as a part of their muscle-building, healthy and balanced diet - and are not vegetarian or vegan - the big chicken-and-egg question is, which is a better source of protein and nutrition? On the occasion of Protein Week, which is observed in India between 24 July and 30 July every year, let’s take a look at the nutrition provided by both these animal-based sources of proteins and evaluate which one’s best for you.
The chicken dance
Chicken is very popular with fitness enthusiasts all over the world because it’s a great source of protein. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), 100g of chicken provides 143 kilocalories of energy, 24.11g of protein, 2.68g of carbohydrates and 3.12g of total lipids or fat. This apart, the same amount of chicken also has substantial amounts of calcium, iron, sodium, vitamin A and vitamin C.
But, it’s very important to note here that different parts of the chicken have different concentrations of nutrients. Your selection for consumption should depend on the nutrient values of these cuts. If you want to lose weight or build more muscles, chicken breast is the way to go because it has the least fat and calories while having the densest protein content. However, if you’re following a low-carb diet, ketogenic diet or want to gain weight, then going for the fattier parts like thighs, legs and wings, will serve your needs.
All things eggy
A whole hard-boiled egg that weighs around 100g, according to the USDA, has 155kcal of energy, 12.58g protein, 1.12g carbohydrates and 10.61g of total fat. While the fat amount might seem like a lot, it’s important to note that recent studies have shown that eggs actually have dietary cholesterol, which does not increase blood cholesterol levels - indicating that having whole eggs is healthy.
Plus, the same amounts of eggs also have calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, fluoride, vitamin A, vitamin B complex and even the elusive vitamin K. Eggs, specifically egg yolks, are exceptionally rich in antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin. Eggs are not just extremely nutritious, help build muscles and lose weight, but they’re also very good for your immune system.
Winner, winner, what’s for dinner?
The Indian diet system, as a study in the Indian Dermatology Online Journal (2019) points out, is largely carbohydrates-based and protein deficiency has a high prevalence in the country. Protein deficiency causes many health issues, like marasmus, edema, muscle loss, psoriasis, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and poor skin and hair health. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, which suggests that if your weight is 50kg then you should be having 40g of protein every day.
Believe it or not, this is a huge amount that you’re supposed to take every day to keep protein deficiency and related ailments at bay. Given that both eggs and chicken are great sources of protein, as well as other nutrients, you should ideally include both in your diet. If you’re unable to do so, then opt for the better option according to your nutritional requirements.
If protein is your biggest requirement, then selecting chicken breasts over eggs, as well as other parts of the chicken itself, might seem like an obvious call. Eggs, on the other hand, are more nutrient-dense while also being packed with protein, and are comparatively cheaply available. This might make eggs a better choice for many. Choose whichever best suits your needs and pocket, but make sure to get plenty of protein to keep deficiency at bay.
For more information, read our article on Protein.
Health articles on News18 are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.