Chicken breast is the favorite food of bodybuilders everywhere to build muscle mass and gain weight – but does chicken make you gain weight?
Is the hype around eating chicken regularly beyond the reality? Why is it so popular? Do you really have to eat chicken and brown rice everyday to have a healthy diet?
Today we’re answering your burning questions about weight gain, high protein foods, and how to get more calories the healthy way.
Eating Chicken and Building Muscle Mass
Eating chicken regularly is a trope of bodybuilding that has made its way into normal health and fitness. It’s a high protein food – which means it provides the essential building blocks of the human body you need to stay healthy.
Protein rich foods also have other benefits that make them popular – like improving metabolism, supporting digestive health, as well as a plethora of health benefits around common problems (such as diabetes, blood pressure, and even joint health benefits).
Chicken breast isn’t the only food to do this – it’s just the cheapest, most available, and easiest one to use in the kitchen. That’s why it’s popular among elite athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts looking for both weight loss and weight gain.
Chicken Breast: The Most Popular Lean Meat
Eating chicken is a good way to gain weight, because it supports your protein intake and can easily be paired with other foods that are rich in calories. Chicken meat is lower in saturated fats than beef, contains every essential amino acid, and pairs well with your favorite veggies.
It’s a nutritionally and culinarily simple food that pairs with just about anything.
This is the main reason chicken is so popular and why it’s a part of the daily diet of so many Americans. Chicken consumption is always high because of the health benefits and the easy use.
While chicken soup and fried chicken might not provide the health benefits of chicken breast, they do show the variety you can get from chicken meat.
Chicken Breast: for Weight Gain or Weight Loss?
Chicken breast is used for both weight gain and weight loss. This is because it’s very “pure” – it doesn’t contain much fat, and no carbohydrates, while offering plenty of complete protein.
This means it’s easy to add to the diet as a simple “block” of protein that you don’t need to balance around having too much saturated fat or other unwanted nutrients.
If you pair chicken breast with veggies, it’s perfect for weight loss. If you pair it with high-calorie foods – like avocado, breads, bacon, or by frying the chicken – it becomes better for weight loss.
Eating meat from chicken is so popular simply because it’s a massively versatile choice with a few benefits that other meats charge a premium for (e.g. extra-lean meat like beef costs more than normal chicken breast despite having the same fat content).
Fried Chicken: Is All Chicken Meat Good For you?
Keep in mind that not all chicken is good for you.
Deep fried variants are still a luxury food and shouldn’t be considered a normal part of a healthy plate. The extra calories in fried chicken make it easy to gain excessive or unintentional weight – which is as unhealthy as any other food.
Heart disease is closely related to over-intake of fried foods, so be sure to use it as a rare and moderated treat, rather than a consistent part of your diet.
Other health conditions like high blood pressure, poor cholesterol, and malignant melanoma can also be seen more often in people who eat too many deep fried variants.
Does Chicken Make You Gain Weight?
No, eating chicken will not make you gain weight by itself. It’s a high-protein option that can support a high quality weight gain diet, but doesn’t directly cause weight gain. Those same bodybuilders who eat chicken for weight gain also use it for weight loss when the time comes.
Chicken breast, in particular, is popular for both gain and loss, because it supports the high protein intake you need to build, or protect, muscle tissue.
It’s versatile for both purposes, and doesn’t make you gain weight by itself.
Alternatives to Chicken Breast for weight gain
The best alternatives to chicken breast are lean meat and seafood – including fish.
The low fat content of some variants is perfect for healthy weight gain or weight loss, while offering the taste buds something different to keep you on-track with your weight gain diet.
Lean Beef Steak Mince
Lean meat – and specifically red meat – can be a really important food group for high quality weight gain.
Despite some half-truth rumors about cardiovascular diseases, red meat is not bad for you. Especially when paired with green vegetables (which you should be eating anyway).
Despite the popular ideas, red meat has a very high nutritional value in areas like vitamins and minerals.
It’s also a rich source of complete protein, and a good alternative to chicken breast for low fat – and a few benefits of its own (like creatine intake).
Chicken Thigh and Wing
While breast meat is the preferred chicken meat of bodybuilders, other options are still good. These often have extra calories compared to the super-lean meat of the breast, offering a mixture of protein and fat that can make weight gain much easier.
They’re also typically cheaper, which is a great benefit for getting big on a budget.
Turkey mince is a boring food that is high in protein and low in unwanted calories. It’s a super-pure option that you can combine with other foods to really improve protein intake – just like chicken.
Try using turkey mince (with a healthy serving of spices and herbs) to replace chicken in some meals.
Cod and White Fish
Seafood is an essential part of the human diet – more than chicken, red meat, or fruits. It’s a pillar of protein and super-healthy fats that support your immune system, cardiovascular health, and even provide a good dose of vitamin D.
Cod and white fish are lower in fat but leaner, comparable to lean meat, and very low in calories. These may be perfect to lose weight, but they’re also a great protein source for building muscle.
Salmon and Fatty Fish
A fattier alternative to white fish, salmon and fatty fish are perfect for more calories, more flavor, and a powerful Omega-3 fat source.
This helps them support immune cells, as well as regulating hormones and other important systems for unique health benefits you won’t get from chicken or another lean meat form.
Chicken and Weight Gain – FAQ
Chicken invites a lot of questions because it’s so popular – and we’re going to answer the most important ones like how much chicken should you eat? Is it okay to eat chicken everyday? And What foods cause weight gain?
How Much Chicken Do I Have To Eat To Gain Weight?
There’s no specific amount of chicken that will cause you to gain weight – it’s about the total diet and how much energy (measured in calories) you get. Then it’s about your output of energy.
If you eat more than you use, you gain weight – which can be either body fat or muscle mass. You should eat chicken and other lean meats as one of your main protein sources, but should also get plenty of vegetables, nuts, seeds, seafood, cultured dairy, and starchy carbohydrates.
A good weight gain diet is balanced – like any healthy plate or diet – but just more total food. You can gain weight by eating what you eat now – but just increasing the portions.
Is Chicken Breast Good For Weight Loss?
Chicken breast is very good for weight loss – due to being high in protein, low in calories, and containing very little saturated fat. It is high protein, low calorie, and filling enough to help you fight hunger.
Does The Chicken And Broccoli Diet Make You Gain Weight Or Lose Weight?
A diet of chicken breast and broccoli will almost always cause weight loss, because these two foods are very low in calories and very high in satiety. They fill you up with very little actual energy, which causes weight loss.
A good diet involves more variety than these two simple foods, so make sure to vary both the chicken breast (with lean meat, seafood, and similar) and the broccoli (with other types of vegetables) to get the best results from your diet.
What Foods Cause Weight Gain?
No specific food causes weight gain or weight loss. It’s the total diet – and the amount of energy (calories) you consume per day relative to how many you need. Remember: foods don’t cause weight gain, diets do.
Remember to focus on the big picture and whether you’re in energy deficit (weight loss) or energy surplus (weight gain – as fat or muscle). This is most important – and specific foods should come afterwards.
Is It Okay To Eat Chicken Every Day?
Yes – you can eat chicken every day. It is a common practice for athletes, where chicken breast offers plenty of the essential protein intake needed to repair tissues and stay healthy. Chicken is a cornerstone of a healthy diet for many people.
Try to add variety to your protein sources where possible, with alternatives like seafood, vegetables, and seeds. These can all offer protein from different sources with high nutritional value in other areas – like vitamins and minerals.
Does Eating Fried Chicken Make You Fat?
Not by itself – you need to eat a calorie surplus (eat more than you use) to gain fat. Fried chicken is just very high in calories and low in nutrients so it makes you gain fat more quickly than other foods for the same total meal-size.
You can enjoy fried foods like fried chicken in moderation and stay lean, using it as part of a healthy diet. It just has to be surrounded by healthy foods and eaten in moderation.
Chicken does not make you gain weight – but it can be a great tool to support a weight gain diet. It’s a simple food that can be prepared easily with almost any other combination of ingredients, and is cheap and versatile enough to suit any diet and budget.
Chicken is great for its simplicity, versatility, and easy cooking – but it’s not the only option out there. Consider other options from our list above, and think twice next time you’re shopping for muscle foods!
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Rohan Arora is a Certified Personal Trainer and Sports Nutritionist and has been actively involved in sports and fitness for over 8 years. He now leads the team of fitness specialists and personal trainers who help people around the world with personalized workout and nutrition plans, along with providing the right information on sports supplements.