Chicken Leg vs Drumstick: Nutritional Values and Health Benefits

Chicken leg and drumstick offer high protein content, but differ in fat, vitamins, and minerals. Both promote muscle health and weight goals.

chicken leg vs drumstick Chicken Leg vs Drumstick: Nutritional Values and Health Benefits

In the debate over chicken cuts, choosing between the nutritional value and health benefits of the chicken leg versus the drumstick is common. This blog post will compare these popular cuts, helping you make informed dietary choices for better health.

The chicken leg consists of two main parts: the thigh and the drumstick.

  • The drumstick is the lower part of the chicken leg, also known as the calf.
  • The thigh is the upper part of the leg, which connects to the body of the chicken.

Both the chicken leg and drumstick are rich sources of protein, but they differ in terms of fat content, vitamins, and minerals…since the drumstick is part of the leg.

chicken legs
Chicken Legs
Uncooked chicken legs in row isolated on white background, top view
Chicken Drumsticks

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Nutrition Breakdown: Chicken Leg


A roasted chicken leg with the skin contains 475 calories. This makes it a higher calorie option compared to the drumstick. However, removing the skin can help to reduce the calorie content significantly, making it a more suitable choice for those watching their calorie intake.

Protein Content

The chicken leg is an excellent source of protein, providing 23.7 grams per small leg (yield after cooking, bone removed). This makes it a valuable addition to a high-protein diet, which can help with muscle maintenance, weight loss, and overall health.

Fat Content

Chicken legs contain 12.3 grams of fat per small leg (yield after cooking, bone removed). Of this fat content, there is a mix of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. While fat is an essential nutrient for the body, it’s important to consume it in moderation, especially if you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy diet.

Vitamins and Minerals

Chicken legs are rich in various vitamins and minerals, such as selenium, niacin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, pantothenic acid, iron, and zinc. These nutrients play crucial roles in maintaining good health and supporting various bodily functions. For example, selenium is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage, while niacin is essential for energy production and maintaining healthy skin, nerves, and digestion.

Nutrition Breakdown: Chicken Drumstick


A roasted chicken drumstick with the skin contains 114 calories, making it a lower calorie option compared to the chicken leg. This can be beneficial for those looking to reduce their calorie intake for weight loss or other health purposes. As with the chicken leg, removing the skin can further decrease the calorie content.

Protein Content

One skinless, boneless chicken drumstick (44 grams) provides 12.4 grams of protein, which is equal to 28.3 grams of protein per 100 grams. This makes drumsticks another excellent source of protein, although slightly lower in protein content compared to the chicken leg.

Fat Content

A roasted chicken drumstick with the skin contains 8.2 grams of fat. Similar to the chicken leg, the fat content consists of a mix of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. Moderating fat intake is still important when consuming drumsticks, especially if weight loss or overall health is a priority.

Vitamins and Minerals

Chicken drumsticks are also rich in essential vitamins and minerals, including selenium, niacin, vitamin B6, and phosphorus. While the amounts of these nutrients may be slightly lower than those found in the chicken leg, drumsticks still provide significant health benefits and contribute to a well-rounded diet.

Health Benefits of Eating Chicken Leg and Drumstick

Healthy Bones

Both chicken legs and drumsticks are good sources of phosphorus, which is essential for maintaining strong, healthy bones. Consuming adequate amounts of phosphorus can help prevent bone-related conditions such as osteoporosis, especially when combined with sufficient calcium intake.

Weight Loss

Chicken legs and drumsticks are both high in protein, which can help promote weight loss by increasing feelings of fullness and reducing overall calorie intake. Additionally, removing the skin from these cuts of chicken can further decrease calorie and fat content, making them more suitable for weight loss goals.

Muscle Maintenance

As rich sources of protein, both chicken legs and drumsticks can help with muscle maintenance, especially when combined with regular exercise. Protein is essential for repairing and building muscle tissue, making it an important nutrient for athletes and those looking to maintain or increase muscle mass.

Low-Carb and Keto Diets

Chicken legs and drumsticks are both low in carbohydrates, making them suitable options for those following low-carb or ketogenic diets. These diets focus on reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing fat and protein consumption, which can help promote weight loss and improve overall health for some individuals.

Muscle Gain and Recovery

The protein content of chicken legs and drumsticks can aid in muscle recovery and growth after exercise. Consuming adequate amounts of protein, along with other essential nutrients, can help enhance athletic performance and reduce the risk of injury.

Tips for Cooking Chicken Legs and Drumsticks

Taste and Texture

Chicken legs and drumsticks have a slightly different taste and texture compared to other cuts of chicken, such as the breast. The darker meat found in these cuts tends to be more flavorful and tender, making them popular choices for various dishes and cooking methods.

Different Roasting Methods

There are numerous ways to prepare chicken legs and drumsticks, including roasting, grilling, frying, and slow cooking. Experimenting with different cooking methods and seasonings can help you find your preferred way to enjoy these cuts of chicken.

Safe Internal Temperatures

When cooking chicken legs and drumsticks, it’s important to ensure they reach a safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to prevent foodborne illness. Using a meat thermometer can help you accurately gauge the temperature and avoid undercooking or overcooking your chicken.

Why is a chicken leg called a drumstick?

A chicken leg is called a drumstick because its shape resembles a percussion drumstick, and the term was first used in the mid-18th century.

What part of a chicken is the drumstick?

The drumstick is the lower part of a chicken’s leg, consisting of the tibia bone, patella, and the surrounding meat.

Why are drumsticks so cheap?

Drumsticks are relatively inexpensive compared to other parts of a chicken because they are produced from ‘battery’ or intensively farmed chickens, which are cheaper to produce and result in lower prices for consumers.

Which is better drumsticks or thighs?

The choice between drumsticks and thighs depends on personal preference and cooking methods; drumsticks are great for finger food and barbecues, while thighs have a higher fat content and are ideal for slow cooking and creating stocks.

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