Dark Meat vs White Meat: What’s the Difference?

By Guest Author

Is dark meat bad for you? What’s the difference between turkey and chicken meats? Which one has more calories?

Chicken Drumsticks – Dark Meat

What is Dark Meat?

Dark meats simply have more myoglobin proteins, the magic stuff that ships oxygen to the muscle cells. Muscles used more frequently, get to be dark. Chickens and Turkeys generally have dark colored drumsticks and thighs because of walking around a lot.

What is White Meat?

This is poultry tissue that is used for quick bursts of activity (such as chickens have short bursts of flight).

Breast meat is white.

Dark Meat is NOT All Bad For You

Take a look at the nutrition.

  • Most dark meats tend to contain more zinc, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, vitamins B6 and B12, amino acids, iron than white meat.
  • Dark beef meat contains about 11 times more zinc than tuna, and about 3 times as much iron than raw spinach.
  • Chicken and Turkey dark meat contain vitamins A, K, B6, B12, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, minerals as selenium, phosphorus and zinc.

Are you aware of the hidden salt that is in some chicken meat?

Poultry Breast – White / Light Meat

It is the higher levels of saturated fat that have given dark meat a bad name.

However, in the case of poultry, this can be removed by simply removing the skin (from drumsticks).

Calories in Dark Meat vs White Meat

Calories Carb
Total Fat
Sat. Fat
Chicken – Dark Meat
Roasted (1 Cup Diced)
249 0 32.6 12.3 3.4
Chicken – Light (White) Meat
Roasted (1 Cup Diced)
214 0 38 5.7 1.5
Turkey – Dark Meat
Roasted (1 Cup Diced)
262 0 40 10.1 3.4
Turkey – Light (White) Meat
Roasted (1 Cup Diced)
220 0 41.9 4.5 1.4
Filed in Meat, ,


  1. Sherwin uy

    Why dark meat and White meat are deferent in the cooking timer.

  2. Gabriel

    There is nothing wrong with saturated fat from natural sources such as meat, poultry, full-fat organic dairy and coconut products. In fact, it’s important and beneficial to human health.

    Forget the dietary mythology of the 60s!

  3. Rosann

    which has more potassium white meat or dark meat chicken

    • Ted

      4 ounces of chicken breast has 288 mg and 4 ounces of chicken thigh has 269 mg Source: http://www.calorieking.com/

      • Borat Sagdiyev

        Unless they are make from glorious Kazakhstan chicken. Then 100% Potassium

        • Dan

          Eating pure potassium can be fatal. 😉

  4. Sarah

    Dr. Atkins died after a fall that left him comatose, so if you’re insinuating that he died from following the Atkins diet, (high fat and protein, low carbs) then that’s a pretty big fail.

  5. brendon

    “Dark meats must use myoglobins as they transfer oxygen more efficiently to the muscles than glycogen. ”

    You might want to clarify that glycogen isn’t an oxygen transporter.

  6. Ronny

    I believe people should eat what they think tastes better. Personally, I love chicken legs with the skin on. Not only do they contain more nutrients, but the extra fat makes me feel full quicker. I do not believe all the propaganda about saturated fats. If you want evidence contradicting the harmful effects of saturated fat, visit westonprice.org.

    • Gabriel

      Spot on, Ronny!

      Down with the anti-fat mythology of conventional wisdom!

  7. TT

    What’s with the anti-expert posts on this site? They’re rampant. No expert would ever say “fat is bad…cholesterol is bad, period.” They are vital to life, but too much of either eventually lead to serious vascular problems. How did Atkins die again? Hell, too many carrots are bad. Balance is what’s been lost. LDLs (bad cholesterol) and HDLs (good cholesterol) are totally different and yes, they actually do exist whether Robert thinks so or not. Nobody ever said it’s the cholesterol molecule that’s different, it’s the package it’s in and where it’s headed. Before we totally count out the people who actually study the body for a living, maybe we should learn a little about it ourselves.

  8. TT

    Wow! Is all I can say.
    We don’t oxygenate our blood by eating meat and I’m pretty sure eating a juicy steak doesn’t trigger red blood cell production. If that were true, I would have glue running through my veins right now.

  9. Bugs

    Not everyone needs more iron. Some of us have too much. However, I’m not letting that stop me from eating chicken thighs or beef. My body simply feels better when I eat dark meat or beef. I don’t do well with white meat chicken or pork. Never have. Love lamb, but it doesn’t love me. I think we’re in trouble as a nation because we listen to what the “experts” say and not our own bodies. I could easily live on good, grass-fed steak and salad (without the iceberg lettuce, please!)

  10. Jason

    “Misinformation, half truths, and misleading data abound”

    Tell me about it.
    I come here looking for information on the difference between light and dark meat and I get an advertisement for beef & chicken.

    • Charlaine Corkey

      Perhaps it has to do with your blood type, than to white meat versus dark meat. Something to consider… please research.