Skinless, boneless chicken breast has become a mainstay of the American diet. According to the National Chicken Council, the per capita consumption of poultry for 2020 is forecast at 111.8 pounds.
Pair that with grilling, and you have a winner. Grilling your chicken instead of pan-frying or roasting means you do not have to use oils or other fats that will soak into the meat. Skinless chicken breast is lean and the calories in grilled, boneless, skinless chicken breast are low.
Count Calories and Macros
Chicken breasts usually weigh about 6 to 8 ounces. A 3-ounce serving is about the size of a deck of cards. According to the USDA, there are 128 calories in a 3-ounce grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast. They are very low in fat, clocking in at 2.7 grams, and contain no carbohydrates.
As an added bonus, a serving of grilled, skinless, boneless chicken breast contains no saturated fats — the "bad" fats that raise the levels of "bad" cholesterol in your blood, according to the American Heart Association.
Saturated fats should make up no more than 5 to 6 percent of your daily total caloric intake.
Each serving provides you with 26 grams of protein, which is more than half of the recommended daily intake for adults — 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men, according to the National Academies of Sciences.
Consider Other Health Benefits
According to a June 2015 article published by Food & Nutrition Research, poultry is a good source of B vitamins, including thiamin, B6 and pantothenic acid as well as the minerals iron, copper and zinc.
However, the article also points out that specific nutritional value of your chicken is dependent on the diet the animal is fed, as well as its genetics.
The authors also state that chicken is an excellent source of selenium. This nutrient helps protect against infection and damage caused by free radicals in the body. It also plays a role in DNA production, reproduction and proper functioning of the thyroid gland, according to the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements.
Chicken is relatively low in collagen — a protein that provides support to connective tissues. This makes it more easily digestible, which increases the amount of nutrients your body absorbs.
Beware the Downside of Grilling
Grilling is a healthy way to cook your chicken breast, but you may want to adjust your grilling method. Cooking chicken and other "muscle meat" at very high heat, such as with pan frying or over an open flame, produces by-products that cause cancer in animals. Whether they are associated with cancer in humans is as yet unclear.
The National Cancer Institute cites studies that associate a high consumption of barbecued, fried or well-done meat with colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer. You can reduce your risk by grilling smaller cuts of meat that cook quickly and keeping it away from high flames. Avoid eating your meat blackened or charred.
- National Cancer Institute: "Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer Risk"
- National Academies of Sciences: "Macronutrients"
- American Heart Association: "The Skinny on Fats"
- Food & Nutrition Research: "Role of Poultry Meat in a Balanced Diet Aimed At Maintaining Health and Wellbeing: An Italian Consensus Document"
- NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: "Selenium"
- National Chicken Council: "Per Capita Consumption of Poultry and Livestock, 1960 to Forecast 2020, in Pounds"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Chicken, Broiler or Fryers, Breast, Skinless, Boneless, Meat Only, Cooked, Grilled"