Why I Hate Chicken Breasts (and what to eat instead!)
Updated: May 7
There are several topics in the health and wellness industry that will get me VERY fired up and salty. Vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, fat burners, bogus supplements, crappy protein bars, and all Special K products start the list, but what ends it is seemingly innocent: chicken breast.
We've given chicken breast a "healthiest food on earth" gold sticker because it is lean and low in fat, two things we idolize in conventional nutrition.
However, chicken breasts are hardly worthy of that title.
Chicken breasts, especially from conventionally raised chickens, contain a fair amount of protein yes, but they are void of most nutrients. Plus, they don't contain fat, causing them to be dry and bland most of the time. Fat is what gives our food good flavor and satiety! Additionally, in a culture that refuses to eat any other part of the chicken besides the lean chicken breasts, we've adulterated the process of raising chickens, breeding them to have unusually large breasts and a shorter life span that what is considered normal. We've also slapped a label claiming chicken is "hormone free" (fun fact it's illegal to give chickens hormones, so this label is meaningless), and started feeding chicken a typical vegetarian diet. Unfortunately, chickens aren't vegetarians; they're omnivores. They're meant to eat bugs (protein), some plant matter, and even rocks!
In short, we've deprived ourselves of nutrients from other sources of protein that can give us so much more nutrition per serving.
Take for instance beef, which contains a plethora of nutrients including zinc, iron, and B vitamins (especially B12, which is usually low in vegetarians, vegans, and those who avoid red meat). Beef also contains CLA (conjulated linoleic acid), a fatty acid that can help manage blood sugar and weight and has even been shown to kill cancer cells in some studies.
Or consider a seafood option like salmon. Salmon is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which are essential for optimal health, as well as vitamin B12, selenium, and even a bit of Vitamin D. Wild caught salmon is my go-to recommendation for clients lacking essential fatty acids, which are critical for cell, joint, and mental health.
Even just choosing a different cut of chicken will do you a favor. Personally, I only buy organic chicken thighs or drumsticks. If I cook the chicken in my Instant Pot or in the over slathered in stone ground mustard, it's near impossible for the meat to dry out. Plus, the dark meat chicken contains more fat than chicken breast. More natural fat equals more satiation and flavor!
Moral of the story? Stop buying conventionally raised, ginormous chicken breasts. If you can, find a local farmer that allows their chickens to eat a natural diet while roaming around the farm (pasture raised is the gold standard). Organic chicken, in my opinion, is the bare minimum we should be buying from a store and in any cut other than the "healthy healthy healthy" chicken breasts.
Want to learn more? Check out this article by Diana Rodgers.