Calories in Turkey, Breast Meat, and Ground Turkey

Calories in ground turkey
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Most dieters think of turkey as a diet-friendly food. And it can be. The calories in turkey are usually low if you choose a lean part of the bird. But ground turkey calories are harder to check and the fat and calories in turkey burgers can be even harder to calculate.

Turkey is a good source of nutrients including healthy protein, so it's smart to keep it in your diet. But if you are trying to lose weight, you should choose your meat carefully.

The best turkey for you will be high in protein, but low in fat and calories. Use this guide to make sure you choose the best kind of meat for your healthy eating plan.  

Calories in Turkey Meat

The calories in turkey depend on the type of meat that you choose and the preparation method used to prepare the bird. According to the USDA Nutrient Database, there are 5 grams of fat and 147 calories in a single serving of roasted dark meat. But if you choose white meat from the breast area, you'll only consume 125  calories and less than 2 grams of fat. A single serving of turkey is 3 ounces or a portion that is roughly the size of a deck of cards.

Do you choose to keep the skin on your turkey? Unfortunately, you'll add at least a hundred calories but probably more. According to the USDA, a single serving of turkey skin (1 ounce) provides 115 calories and over 11 grams of fat. But of course, no one eats turkey skin raw.

So if you are calculating the total number of turkey calories you'll consume, you also need to account for the butter and pan drippings that are often drizzled on top of the bird during cooking.

Calories in Ground Turkey

The number of calories in ground turkey can be more complicated to calculate. Just like ground beef, there are different varieties that contain different amounts of fat.

The fat in ground turkey may come from added turkey skin or dark meat.  

Jennie-O is a popular brand of ground turkey. Calories in the products vary as listed below:

  • Ground Turkey: 220 calories and 17 grams of fat per 112-gram serving
  • Lean Ground Turkey: 170 calories and 8 grams of fat per 112-gram serving
  • Extra Lean Ground Turkey Breast:  120 calories and 1.5 grams of fat per 112-gram serving

Because there is so much variation between the calorie counts of different types of ground turkey, it's important to check the nutrition label on the product that you buy, no matter which brand you purchase. It's not safe to assume that ground turkey will be low in calories or low in fat.

Calories in Turkey Burgers

If you order a turkey burger at a restaurant, the calorie and fat count may be impossible to determine unless it is indicated on the menu. But smart dieters should never assume that turkey burger calories are low or that a turkey burger is necessarily lower in calories than a traditional beef burger.

When turkey burgers are mixed, many chefs use higher fat ground turkey because it tastes better, it's moist and it is easier to eat. Then, additional ingredients like cheese or cooking oils can be added which will increase the fat. Finally, any toppings or spreads added to the bun can add hundreds of calories. The result? It's not impossible for your turkey burger to total 500 calories or more.

You can, however, make your own lower-calorie turkey burgers at home. Just be sure to use ground turkey breast and add moisture by including savory ingredients like onions, herbs, and even egg white.

Turkey Dinner Tips for Dieters

If you like to eat a big turkey dinner on festive occasions, use a few smart tips to enjoy the meal without overeating fat and calories. 

  • eat only a single serving of meal (the size of your palm or a deck of cards)
  • remove the skin
  • choose white meat from the breast
  • skip the butter when roasting. Use a low fallow-fating method to cook your turkey. Some fat is necessary to keep your bird moist, but you can use less fat and still get a flavorful meal.

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