Effective bodybuilding requires not only the right amount and type of physical activity, but also a proper diet with high protein foods, such as lean meats like turkey and chicken.
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Turkey vs. Chicken Nutrition
Both chicken and turkey can be good sources of lean protein. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics explains that the healthiness of chicken or turkey can depend on the way that it's cooked. Baking and grilling are considered healthier options, while frying chicken or turkey is less healthy. Moreover, removing chicken or turkey skin will help reduce the fat content.
In terms of nutrition, turkey meat overall contains fewer calories than chicken. According to the USDA, a 3-ounce serving of a whole cooked chicken has 200 calories and 100 calories from fat, while a 3-ounce serving of a whole turkey has 170 calories, 70 calories from fat and slightly more protein with 24 instead of 23 grams of protein.
Overall, turkey contains fewer calories and moderately more protein than chicken, except for the chicken breast, which has more protein per serving size of 3 ounces. Turkey also has less cholesterol, less sodium and more iron.
Since protein provides amino acids that help in muscle rebuilding and repair, says Mayo Clinic, turkey may be a moderately better option, though it depends on how it's prepared and which part of the turkey it comes from. The difference between the chicken and turkey meat, in terms of nutrition is minimal.
Read more: How to Cook a 25-pound Turkey
Best Workout Foods
Mayo Clinic recommends foods that will fuel a workout, that will provide energy to your muscles and help you recover from physical activity. The most important elements of your diet to fuel your workout are healthy carbs, such as whole-wheat bread and brown rice, lean protein, such as turkey or chicken, which will help you gain and maintain lean muscle tissue and water, which will keep you hydrated.
Mayo Clinic also suggests eating carbohydrate-heavy food one to four hours before exercise and protein-rich foods after your workout to help you restore the glycogen lost in your muscles during the workout. Geisinger Health advises having a lean protein and carbohydrate, such as lean turkey or chicken on a wrap to help build your muscles for the next workout.
Other high protein foods suggested by Mayo Clinic as a post-workout snack include string cheese with an apple, a fruit smoothie made with Greek yogurt, low-fat chocolate milk or tuna on a whole-grain wrap.
Read more: How to Cook a Small Turkey
Healthy Turkey and Chicken Preparation
The American Heart Association has some suggestions for how to prepare turkey or chicken in a way that's healthy and nutritious. They recommend choosing poultry that has not been injected with fats or broths. Baking, broiling, stir-frying, roasting or microwaving chicken is always better than frying. Furthermore, it's best to remove the skin or the fat under the skin before cooking.
For lunch, the American Heart Association recommends slicing leftover chicken or turkey for sandwiches or making a chicken salad with leftover baked or roasted chicken. For dinner, you can bake, grill or microwave chicken breasts and remove the skin before cooking. You can also top your salad with chicken or turkey.
One February 2018 article from Nutrients explains the connection between protein consumption and quality and quantity of muscle mass. The most effective protein source to stimulate muscle protein synthesis rates after exercise will depend on nutritional needs, as well as other non-nutritional factors. So while chicken and turkey may be beneficial for bodybuilding, there are several factors that might make one better than the other that varies person by person.
- Nutrients: "Achieving Optimal Post-Exercise Muscle Protein Remodeling in Physically Active Adults through Whole Food Consumption"
- Geisinger: "A Good Workout is Only a Meal Away"
- American Heart Association: "Meat, Poultry, and Fish: Picking Healthy Proteins"
- Mayo Clinic: "The Best Foods to Fuel a Workout"
- USDA: "Chicken and Turkey Nutrition Facts"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Breasts vs Thighs Which Is More Nutritious"