Is shrimp or chicken better for weight loss?

When it comes to choosing the right proteins for weight loss, two popular options are shrimp and chicken. Both are lean sources of protein that can support muscle growth and keep you feeling full. However, they differ in some key nutrients that may make one better than the other for losing weight.

Nutrition facts

Shrimp and chicken are low in calories and fat, but shrimp contains slightly fewer calories per serving. Here is a quick comparison of the nutrition facts for a 3 ounce serving of cooked shrimp and chicken breast without skin:

Nutrient Shrimp Chicken
Calories 84 110
Protein 18g 22g
Fat 1g 2g
Carbs 0g 0g

As you can see, shrimp is a bit lower in calories and fat compared to chicken. However, chicken contains more protein per serving.

Vitamins and minerals

Shrimp has an impressive nutrient profile, containing a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Chicken is also nutritious, but lacks some of the vitamins found in shrimp.

Shrimp is especially high in:

– Selenium: 77% DV
– Vitamin B12: 51% DV
– Phosphorus: 27% DV
– Zinc: 24% DV
– Vitamin D: 15% DV

Meanwhile, chicken contains decent amounts of:

– Niacin: 42% DV
– Vitamin B6: 32% DV
– Pantothenic acid: 19% DV
– Phosphorus: 15% DV
– Selenium: 14% DV

Shrimp comes out ahead for its stellar content of selenium, vitamin B12, vitamin D and zinc. All provide valuable health benefits.

Benefits for weight loss

Both shrimp and chicken can support weight loss through their high protein and low calorie content. But shrimp offers some additional benefits:

– Higher protein to calorie ratio. With 18g protein and only 84 calories per serving, shrimp provides more protein for less calories.

– Lower fat. The lower natural fat content in shrimp versus chicken may be preferable for fat loss.

– Selenium. This mineral supports a healthy metabolism, which can aid weight management.

– Vitamin D. Low vitamin D levels are linked to weight gain. Shrimp provides vitamin D that chicken lacks.

– Zinc. This mineral is needed for hormone balance and growth, which can influence weight.

Overall, shrimp is the lower calorie and lower fat option that provides weight loss friendly micronutrients like selenium, vitamin D and zinc.

Downsides of shrimp

Despite the benefits, there are a few potential downsides of shrimp:

– High cholesterol. A 3 ounce serving contains 166mg cholesterol, though dietary cholesterol has less significant impact on blood cholesterol levels.

– Sodium content. With 202mg sodium per serving, shrimp is quite high in salt compared to chicken at 73mg per serving.

– Allergies. Shellfish like shrimp is one of the most common food allergens.

– Sustainability concerns. Some fishing methods may be unsustainable and damage environments. Choosing sustainably farmed shrimp can help.

Downsides of chicken

Here are the main potential downsides of chicken:

– Can lack flavor. Plain chicken breast is very lean but can taste bland without added fats or spices. Marinating chicken can help add more flavor.

– May retain more fat when cooked. Chicken thighs or legs are higher in fat than breast meat. Even chicken breast can dry out and be less juicy if overcooked.

– More sodium. On average chicken contains more sodium than shrimp for a standard serving. Always check labels as sodium content varies.

– Fewer micronutrients. While still nutritious, chicken does not contain the same abundance of vitamins and minerals that are found in shrimp.

Best cooking methods

Choosing healthy cooking methods maximizes the weight loss benefits of shrimp and chicken. Consider these tips:

For shrimp:

– Grill, bake or sauté in healthy oils like olive oil instead of frying.

– Avoid adding heavy sauces or batters that add calories.

– Season simply with ingredients like lemon, garlic and fresh herbs.

For chicken breast:

– Grill, bake or sauté using minimal added oils.

– Prepare plain chicken breast without skin or breading.

– Try marinades and rubs using herbs, spices, vinegars or citrus to boost flavor.

– Pair with lower calorie sides and plenty of vegetables.

Sample meals

Here are some meal ideas featuring shrimp or chicken as the lean protein:

Shrimp meal:

– Grilled shrimp skewers over zucchini noodle pasta
– Lemon garlic shrimp with roasted asparagus
– Shrimp stir fry made with cauliflower rice

Chicken meal:

– Chicken breast with roasted sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts
– Greek salad topped with grilled chicken
– Chicken breast tacos served with sautéed peppers and onions

When making these meals, remember to use healthy cooking methods and control portion sizes. About 3-5 ounces of shrimp or chicken is a reasonable serving.

The bottom line

For losing weight, both shrimp and chicken can be excellent high protein options when prepared using simple, healthy cooking techniques.

Shrimp offers slightly fewer calories per serving and contains more beneficial vitamins and minerals like selenium and vitamin D. But chicken is higher in protein and more affordable.

To maximize weight loss, choose lean proteins like shrimp and chicken most often. Combine them with plenty of non-starchy vegetables as well as whole grains, fruits, legumes, nuts and healthy fats.


In conclusion, shrimp and chicken are both good protein choices that can help promote weight loss as part of a balanced, calorie controlled diet.

Shrimp contains slightly fewer calories and fat compared to chicken, and provides more micronutrients including selenium, vitamin B12, zinc and vitamin D. These nutrients offer additional metabolism and hormone balancing benefits for weight management.

However, chicken is a bit higher in protein and more affordable. To reap the most benefits, focus on preparing shrimp and chicken using healthy cooking techniques with minimal added fat, salt or breading.

When it comes to weight loss, it’s best not to rely too heavily on just one protein source. Vary your diet to include both shrimp and chicken, along with fatty fish, beans, eggs, dairy and plant-based proteins. Combine these lean proteins with nutrient-dense vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats for the most well-rounded, weight loss friendly way of eating.

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