Turkey for Weight Loss

Healthy turkey avocado and sprouts sandwich on whole wheat lunch
A turkey and avocado sandwich with sprouts on whole wheat bread. (Image: Msaandy033/iStock/Getty Images)

Including sources of lean protein in your diet is important when you're trying to lose weight, since protein helps to preserve muscle mass and keeps you feeling full. Rather than a diet comprising chicken breast, lean steak, fish and low-fat dairy products only, choose turkey as your protein to help achieve a healthy, balanced weight loss.

Types of Turkey

Different parts of the turkey contain different calorie values; while all of the turkey is virtually carbohydrate-free, the fat and protein content changes depending on what part of the bird you eat. Roasted turkey breast is the lowest-calorie option, with 160 calories, 24 grams of protein and 6 grams of fat for a 3-ounce serving. The same amount of drumstick has 170 calories, 23 grams of protein and 8 grams of fat, while the wing and thigh both have 190 calories, 23 grams of protein and 10 grams of fat.

Turkey Against the World

Compared with other meats, turkey may fare better in the weight loss stakes. A 3-ounce portion of chicken breast has more fat and calories than a 3-ounce portion of turkey breast, which contains 170 calories and 7 grams of fat. The same amount of lean sirloin steak has 180 calories and 8 grams of fat, while 3 ounces of pork leg has 208 calories and 16 grams of fat. A 3-ounce lamp chop has 250 calories and 18 grams of fat.

Simple Swaps

Including turkey in your weight loss diet in place of other foods can prove beneficial, especially if you're getting rid of a fattier meat in favor of turkey. New York-based dietitian Kara Ellis suggests that you grill a turkey burger instead of a hamburger; just be sure to purchase ground turkey that's at least 90-percent lean. Alternatively, you could make a chilli with ground turkey, switch from a ham sandwich to a turkey sandwich, or use turkey breast steaks in a stir-fry.

The Big Picture

While turkey poses several potential benefits over other protein sources when you're trying to lose weight, adding turkey to your diet won't automatically make the pounds fall off. When you eat turkey, you still need to ensure you're eating the right amount of calories for your body weight and your weight loss goals. Aim to get your protein from a variety of sources, including poultry, lean red meat, oily and non-oily fish, dairy and plant proteins such as beans.

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