Are you getting enough protein?
Protein is one of the most essential food groups that you require in your diet on a daily basis, and luckily it’s found in several foods.
What, exactly, is protein?
Protein is a nutrient your body needs to function properly. Every cell in the body contains protein.
If you don’t have enough protein in your diet, your body can’t properly heal cells and produce new ones. Protein is essential for the development and growth of children, teens, and pregnant women.
Protein is a macronutrient, which means you need to eat large amounts of it in order to keep your body healthy.
What Does Protein Do In The Body?
Some important things protein does in the body include the following:
- Protein keeps your bones healthy. Research has found that people who eat greater amounts of protein maintain their bone mass better as they get older than people who don’t. They also have a lower risk of experiencing fractures or osteoporosis.
- Protein helps you to digest food. Approximately half of the protein you eat produces enzymes that help you to digest your food.
- Protein builds muscles. Protein is really the building blocks of muscles. This is why it’s an essential nutrient to consume if you want to bulk up at the gym.
- Protein reduces your appetite. This nutrient lowers your level of ghrelin, which is the hunger hormone in the body, so it helps you to control your feelings of hunger. Protein also increases your peptide YY levels, which is a hormone that makes you feel satisfied and full.
- Protein decreases your blood pressure. A study found that eating more protein decreases your systolic blood pressure by 1.76mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 1.15mm Hg.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
You should ensure you get 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight, and this equates to 56 grams for the average sedentary man per day, and 46 grams for the average sedentary woman per day.
Are All Proteins The Same?
There are different protein-rich foods to know about, and they’re not exactly the same.
Some foods contain complete sources of protein while others are incomplete proteins. If you’ve heard this, you might have wondered what it means.
Well, it basically refers to how many amino acids are in the food. A food that’s considered a complete protein will contain all nine essential amino acids your body requires.
By comparison, an incomplete protein source will lack one or more of these amino acids.
What Foods Are Complete Sources Of Protein?
Animal-based proteins are all considered complete protein sources because they have all the essential amino acids.
These include dairy products, eggs, fish, pork, beef, turkey, and chicken.
By comparison, plant-based products are incomplete protein sources. These foods include nuts, whole grains, seeds, tofu, legumes, and rice.
If you only eat plant-based proteins, such as because you’re vegan, you don’t have to be too worried about not getting enough protein in your diet because ensuring you get two or more different types of proteins will help you get enough amino acids in your diet.
For example, mixing together lentils and rice can help you to produce a complete protein dish.
Other good protein combinations that will help you achieve a complete protein source include eating nut butter on whole-wheat bread, black beans with corn salad, and a spinach smoothie that contains almonds and soya milk.
How Much Protein Is In Chicken?
As we mentioned earlier, meats and other animal-based foods are excellent sources of complete protein.
When it comes to chicken specifically, some people have said that it’s the best protein food you can consume. What’s great about chicken is that it’s a lean meat, so it’s healthier for you than other types of meat.
When it comes to its protein content, it’s packed with this nutrient – 100 grams of skinless chicken contains more than 30 grams of protein. That’s almost your entire daily requirement.
What Parts Of Chicken Should You Eat?
A three-ounce serving of cooked chicken breast contains 25 grams of protein so the breast is a good part of the chicken to eat if you want to top up on your protein.
Similarly, a cooked, skinless chicken breast gives you 54 grams of protein.
The great thing about chicken breast is that it’s also a good source of other nutrients, such as Vitamin B3 (which repairs DNA), selenium (which regulates the thyroid gland and metabolism), choline (which is good for the brain and nervous system), and Vitamin B5 (which converts food into energy you need).
Three ounces of cooked chicken breast contain 140 calories and three grams of fat, so it’s healthy for you. It’s also healthier than chicken thighs, which are higher in both fats and calories.
One boneless, skinless, cooked chicken thigh gives you 13.5 grams of protein, which is quite a lot less than what you’ll get by eating chicken breasts.
How to choose what chicken parts to eat according to your needs:
- If you want to lose weight: You should opt for the chicken breast. This is because it’s the leanest part of chicken and has the lowest amount of calories but the highest amount of protein.
- If you’re on a keto diet: If you’re on a keto diet, you’ll have to restrict the amount of carbs you consume and increase your fat consumption. This is why fattier chicken parts, like wings and thighs, will be better for you to add to your diet.
- If you want to gain muscle or weight: You need to ensure you consume more calories than the calories your body burns, so you should choose fattier, more calorie-rich cuts of chicken.
What About Drumsticks And Wings?
If you love eating chicken drumsticks, you might wonder how much protein they contain.
One skinless, boneless chicken drumstick contains 12.4 grams of protein, so it’s not the best chicken cut to choose if you want to get enough protein.
Chicken wings are also low on protein. One wing will give you 6.4 grams of protein.
Chicken Foods To Avoid
When eating chicken to boost your protein intake, you should ensure you avoid unhealthy chicken, such as fried chicken nuggets, popcorn chicken, or chicken tenders.
These contain high amounts of calories, carbs, and unhealthy fats.
You also need to avoid very processed chicken products, like lunch meats, as they’re linked to an increased risk of health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
How Much Chicken Should You Eat?
Take your weight into consideration when deciding on how much chicken and protein you need. If you weigh between 143 and 165 pounds, you need around 200 grams of chicken daily.
This will ensure that you get your recommended daily protein requirements.
Bear in mind, however, that it’s important to avoid only eating chicken to get enough protein. You have to eat other protein sources, such as eggs and fish, that will give you extra health benefits.
In addition to the above, if you eat too much protein your body won’t be able to make use of it so you’re wasting your time and daily calories. Your body will just excrete the excess protein as a waste product.
Healthy Ways To Eat Chicken
To ensure you get the most nutrients from chicken without the excess calories, here are some healthy ways in which to eat it.
- Bake it. When you bake chicken, this helps you to reduce its calorie and fat intake because you don’t have to use as much oil as you would if you fried the chicken.
- Steam it. Steaming chicken prevents a crust forming on the surface of the meat, which means it won’t dry out. You’ll be left with a tender, delicious chicken.
- Stir-fry it. You can further increase your nutrients when eating chicken by eating it with vegetables. Stir-fry chicken with your favorite vegetables so that you increase your fiber and protein intake.
How should you cook chicken breast so it doesn’t become dry?
A good tip is to brine the chicken with a few tablespoons of salt and water for 30 minutes. This will preserve the chicken’s moisture.
Are chicken skins unhealthy?
Most of the fat in chicken is found in the skin. But, the skin contains unsaturated fat that is healthy for the heart.
If you love eating chicken, you’ll be glad to know that it’s a healthy source of protein. However, there are important things to bear in mind when making chicken as healthy as possible.
In this article, we’ve provided you with information you need to know about adding chicken to your diet and getting enough protein in chicken, such as what chicken cuts are best to consume so you get the most health benefits from them.