What are the Best, Healthiest Sources of White Meat?

If you’re like many who are trying to minimize the fat content of their protein sources you may tend to lean toward white meat. And why not? Skinless white meat, in general, contains less fat and calories than most red meats.

But let’s face it, in choosing to make white meat their staple too often folks simply rely on chicken and only chicken. And after a while, the monotony of chicken meal after chicken meal can just get to you.

Enter the other white meats. Here are your top white meat choices, including chicken for comparison.

1. Pork

Although pork can also be classified as a red meat, it is typically categorized as a white meat because its profile is more consistent with other white meats. Pork is one of the most popular meats in the world, possibly because of the different kinds of meats available from different kinds of pigs.

Consider the variety: pork chops, bacon, pork steak, pork loin, pork roast, ham, prosciutto, salami, guanciale, etc. So much pork, not enough time. But in general, if you are careful to trim visible fat you are getting a healthy meat.


• Pork is a great source of thiamin (vitamin B1). This is highly important in exercise as B1 plays a vital role in glucose metabolism.
• This white meat also has a good amount of both selenium and zinc, which are responsible for keeping your immune system primed (critical these days) and protecting cells from oxidative stress.
• Pork is relatively inexpensive when compared to other meats.


• Pork may be more susceptible to contamination and food-borne illnesses than other meats. So, make sure you cook pork thoroughly.

What You’re Getting Per 100 grams (about 3.5 oz) of Pork Chop:

• 215 calories
• 21 grams protein
• 11 grams fat (5 saturated)

2. Turkey

Question: When was the last time you cooked a turkey? The holidays, right? Why is it that we reserve this nutritious, low-fat white meat for only a few days a year? If you look (or ask at your grocery story), you can get turkeys at virtually any time of the year.

Why not cook a turkey on the weekend and carve off a little meat here and there during the week when you need a bit of high-quality protein? 


• It’s hard to beat turkey’s low calorie-to-protein ratio.
• Turkey is high in B vitamins, potassium, selenium and phosphorus.
• It is one of the most inexpensive sources of high-quality protein.


• Turkey, like other forms of poultry, is more likely to have food-borne bacteria that red meats.

What You’re Getting Per 100 grams (about 3.5 oz) of Turkey:

• 149 calories
• 18 grams protein
• 8 grams fat (2 saturated)

3. Duck

Duck is not very popular compared to other white meats in the U.S., but it is quite popular in Asia and Europe. Fact is, duck has gotten a bad rap, mostly because people see duck as being very high in fact. And it can be – but, there is more to know.

Ducks need extra fat between their skin and the muscle for buoyancy in the water. But that fat is easily peeled away with the skin or rendered off when cooking. Duck meat itself is very nutrient-dense and is actually leaner than chicken meat.


• Duck is a very flavorful meat. Increasing flavor leads to faster satiety, reducing the risk of over-eating.
• Duck provides a significant amount of selenium, phosphorus, and B vitamins. These vitamins are all important for optimal energy production and a well-functioning immune system (28, 29).
• The fat under duck skin is mostly healthy unsaturated fat.


• More expensive than chicken or pork.
• If you eat duck in a restaurant versus cooking it yourself, be especially careful of the sauces added that contain oils and sugars.

What You’re Getting Per 100 grams (about 3.5 oz) of Duck:

• 132 calories
• 18 grams protein
• 6 grams fat (2 saturated)

4. Pheasant

Here’s your premium choice. This game bird is lean with a combination of white and dark meat. Pheasant has a richer flavor and an even better nutritional profile than chicken. 

But don’t start ringing up your hunter friends. Farm-raised birds have actually been shown to be just as healthy and with a less “gamey” flavor than wild birds. If you have never had pheasant, you owe it to yourself to try it soon.


• Pheasant has an excellent, rich flavor.
• The meat’s amino acid profile is very complete.
• Pheasant contains a very low amount of fat and is quite versatile in how it can be used on conjunction with other foods.
• Has a high amount of water-soluble B vitamins, which are very important in exercise.


• Again, price. Pheasant can be expensive.
• Pheasant can be dry if not cooked carefully.

What You’re Getting Per 100 grams (about 3.5 oz) of Pheasant:

• 181 calories
• 23 grams protein
• 9 grams fat (3 saturated)

5. Chicken

And here’s the standard, a staple in so many meals throughout the world. From pan fried and roasted chicken to chicken soup and even chicken popcorn, this meat has become the perennial white meat. And for good reason. 


• Plain and simple, it’s cheap and affordable.
• Chicken is very protein dense when compared to other meats.
• Provides a good source of essential vitamins and minerals, particularly selenium, potassium, phosphorus and B vitamins.
• Chicken stock contains a significant source of healthy gelatin.


• Be careful to strict hygiene when handling chicken. Bacterial contamination with strains such as E. coli and salmonella are unfortunately common with chicken. Clean everything raw chicken contacts well.

What You’re Getting Per 100 grams (about 3.5 oz) of Ground Chicken:

• 187 calories
• 24 grams protein
• 10 grams fat (4 saturated)

About the Author: Bob LeFavi

Bob LeFavi, PhD, is a professor of sports medicine and Dean of the Beaufort Campus at the University of South Carolina, Beaufort. He has been department head of health sciences and sports medicine at Armstrong State University and Georgia Southern University, Savannah, GA. Bob won the bantamweight class at the IFBB NorthAmerican Bodybuilding Championship and was runner-up at both the USA and National Championships. He also competed in the CrossFit Games as a Master’s athlete and has written over 750 articles in the popular press on training, diet, and fitness.

Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.