Eating chicken wings can be a great option when following a ketogenic or low-carb diet. Chicken wings are a versatile, protein-packed food that can fit well into a keto meal plan. However, there are some important factors to consider when incorporating chicken wings into your keto diet.
Nutritional profile of chicken wings
Chicken wings are a good source of protein, which is an important macronutrient on the keto diet. A 3 ounce serving of chicken wings (about 3-4 wings) provides around 12-15 grams of protein. Chicken wings are also relatively low in carbohydrates, providing only around 1-3 grams of carbs per serving.
The total fat and calories in chicken wings can vary significantly depending on whether they are prepared baked, grilled, fried, or sauced. Plain baked or grilled wings are the lowest in fat and calories, while heavily breaded, fried wings tend to be highest.
It’s also important to pay attention to the type of sauce or seasoning on the wings. Some sauces like Buffalo, BBQ, or sweet chili are fine in moderation on keto, while others like teriyaki or honey mustard can add a lot more sugar.
Benefits of eating wings on keto
Here are some of the benefits of adding chicken wings to your keto diet in moderate amounts:
- High in protein. The protein keeps you feeling full and satisfied.
- Low carb. Plain wings are very low in carbs, so they fit into keto macronutrient goals.
- Nutrient dense. Wings provide B vitamins, selenium, zinc and other nutrients.
- Keto friendly sauces. Wings go great with keto friendly dips like ranch, blue cheese, hot sauce.
- Portable. Wings are an easy keto food to eat on the go.
- Satisfying. The fat in wings gives them flavor and makes them filling.
Potential downsides of wings on keto
There are also a few potential cons to keep in mind when eating wings on the keto diet:
- High in calories. Wings can be a high calorie food, especially if fried or sauced.
- High in fat. The fat content adds calories and can limit other high fat foods in your diet.
- Heavily breaded. Some restaurants bread their wings, adding carbs.
- Sugary sauces. Honey BBQ, teriyaki and other sweet sauces pack in carbs.
- Easy to overeat. Wings are tasty and easy to over-consume, which can sabotage your keto diet.
Tips for eating chicken wings on keto
If you want to work wings into your keto diet, here are some tips:
- Opt for naked, unbreaded wings
- Choose healthier preparations like baked or grilled
- Watch portion sizes. Aim for 3-6 wings per serving
- Pick lower carb sauces like hot sauce, ranch, or blue cheese
- Counterbalance with non-starchy veggies for fiber
- Avoid french fry or potato side dishes
- Check labels for added sugars in sauces
- Pair with a side salad instead of fries or bread
Keto wing recipes
To make delicious keto friendly chicken wings at home, try out these recipe ideas:
Baked Buffalo Wings
- 1 lb chicken wings, cut into drumettes and flats
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- 3 tbsp hot sauce (like Frank’s RedHot)
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray.
- Arrange wings on sheet and bake 20 minutes.
- In a bowl, whisk melted butter, hot sauce, vinegar, garlic powder and salt.
- Remove wings from oven, coat with sauce and bake 10 more minutes.
- Garnish with ranch or blue cheese dressing and celery sticks.
Lemon Pepper Grilled Wings
- 12 chicken wings, cut into flats and drumettes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
- 1 lemon, zested and cut into wedges
- Toss wings with olive oil in a bowl until coated.
- Season wings with lemon pepper seasoning.
- Grill wings over medium heat 15-20 minutes, flipping occasionally.
- Remove wings from grill, sprinkle with lemon zest.
- Serve grilled lemon wings with lemon wedges for squeezing.
Can you eat unlimited wings on keto?
It’s best not to eat unlimited amounts of any one food when following a keto diet, chicken wings included. While wings can be included, it’s important to pay attention to portion size and prepare them in a healthy way.
- Stick to 3-6 wings per serving and 1-2 servings per day max.
- Avoid all-you-can-eat wing specials to prevent overeating.
- Balance wings with non-starchy veggies and healthy fats.
- Choose baked, grilled or air-fried instead of breaded, fried.
- Stay away from sugary sauces and dipping sauces.
- Be mindful of other high fat foods you eat in the same day.
While occasional moderate portions of wings can fit into keto, unlimited amounts could push your fat and calories over your daily target, taking you out of ketosis.
Do chicken wings kick you out of ketosis?
Eating a few wings on their own will not kick you out of ketosis. However, it depends on a few factors:
- Breading – Breaded wings will add more carbs.
- Sauces – Some sauces like teriyaki have added sugars.
- Quantity – Overeating wings could result in too many calories or carbs.
- Cooking Method – Fried wings tend to be higher in carbs and fat than grilled.
- Side Dishes – Fries, rolls and high carb sides can also add carbs.
As long as you stick to 3-6 naked or grilled wings with a keto friendly sauce, they should not kick you out of ketosis given normal carbohydrate limits of 20-50g net carbs per day.
Chicken Wing Nutrition Facts
The nutrition facts for chicken wings can vary considerably based on the cut of the wings, whether they are whole or split, how they are prepared, and whether they are enhanced with sauces and seasonings.
Here is the nutrition for 3 ounces (about 3-4 wings) of chicken wings prepared in different ways:
|Chicken Wings (3 oz)
As you can see, baked or grilled chicken wings are the lowest in fat, carbs and calories. Heavy breading and frying significantly increases the fat and calorie content. Sauces also add some carbs, with sweet BBQ sauce adding the most.
Chicken wings can be included in a healthy keto diet in moderation. Opt for reasonable portion sizes, avoid heavy breading and frying, and choose lower carb sauces. Balance wings with green veggies and other keto foods. While wings can fit into keto, be mindful not to overdo it and avoid unlimited all-you-can-eat wing offers.