Q:If chicken is good for you then why are chicken wings not a healthy choice?


The nutritional value of chicken can varies a lot from piece to piece and is also dependent on whether it includes the skin and the way it is prepared. The average 4 oz baked or grilled chicken breast has approximately 100-130 calories, 1-2 grams of fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, and 22 grams of protein. The average baked or broiled “naked” chicken wing without breading (only one ounce of meat per wing) has 60-100 calories per wing (depending on size), 4.2 grams of fat, 1.2 grams of saturated fat, and 5 grams of protein. To equal the 4 oz. of chicken breast, you would have to quadruple the nutrition information for the wings. Many people eat more than 4 wings at a time, so it can really add up. Adding blue cheese dressing increases the fat and calorie content. Here is a side-by-side comparison:

Chicken Breast (4 oz.) Chicken Wing (4 oz. total) (4 wings)(Baked or Broiled – Not Breaded, Not Fried)
Calories: 100-130 Calories 240-400 (depending on size of each wing)
Fat: 1-2 grams Fat: 16.8 grams
Saturated Fat: 0.5 grams Saturated Fat: 4.8 grams
Protein: 22 grams Protein: 20 grams

Much of the difference in fat is caused by the skin/meat ratio. Wings have a great deal more fat and calories due to the amount of skin per wing.

If you are going to make wings yourself, bake them at 400° for about 45 minutes, blot off the excess oil, then mix in a bowl with your favorite hot sauce. The high heat and long duration gives them the same texture as frying without the excess oil. My favorite dip is Lighthouse Lite Blue Cheese Dressing which you can find in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores by the bagged salads.

To get the same flavor for a fraction of the fat and calories, bake or grill chicken breast, cut into slices, and mix in hot sauce. Dip in your favorite lite blue cheese dressing. Leftovers of these boneless naked wings can make a great “buffalo” chicken salad for a quick weeknight dinner.

If you are interested in having a meatless meal, try vegetarian chicken cutlets tossed in hot sauce. That is another great way to get the same flavor without the added fat and calories.

Remember that these calorie values are for unbreaded wings. Many wings sold in restaurants are breaded and fried which can result in a much higher calorie count (Hooters Breaded Wings (5 wings): Calories: 866, Fat: 63g, Carbs: 25g, Protein: 49g)

I don’t believe that deprivation is a good idea either as it makes you crave things even more. If you really want wings, either make them yourself or order ones that are not breaded. Pair them with a big salad with a small amount of dressing to balance out the calories in the wings. High calorie foods in moderation are not a huge deal if you balance them out with healthy choices the rest of the time.