Chicken diet plan for weight loss makes it easy to lose weight. Chicken contains many low cal and high protein ingredients. If you are looking for a healthy, tasty way to lose some weight, then read on to find out how the chicken diet plan can help.
What is the chicken diet?
The chicken diet became popular during Matt Damon’s preparation for his role in the film “Courage Under Fire” in 1996, during which he ate solely chicken breasts to lose about 60 pounds (27.2 kg).
Damon himself has said that this isn’t the healthiest way of eating, and he was just doing what he had to for the role.
Since then, others have adopted the chicken diet as a method of losing large amounts of body fat quickly without having to follow the extensive guidelines of typical diets.
This diet belongs to a category of dieting referred to as mono dieting. This is when you eat just one type of food for all your meals every day.
Followers of this version stick to eating only chicken, mostly breast meat, to achieve a calorie deficit. This is a state in which you eat fewer calories than you burn, leading to weight loss.
Is a Chicken-Only Diet Good for Weight Loss?
Chicken is a great part of a well-balanced diet, but a chicken diet isn’t a good idea for anyone.
When considering what weight-loss diet to try, you may have come across the “chicken diet” or “chicken-only diet.” And the claims — namely, quick and effective weight loss — may make the poultry-packed plan appealing.
Here, we’ll take a look at where this diet came from, whether it can help you lose weight and the pros and cons of the plan.
What Is a Chicken Diet, Exactly?
A chicken diet is eating chicken only. It’s a more restrictive spin on the carnivore diet, which is when you eat only animal products like meat and eggs and certain sources of dairy.
Where exactly did it come from? Well, it was widely reported that Matt Damon ate only chicken breast to drop 60 pounds for his role in Courage Under Fire in 1996, so that probably has something to do with it. More recently, a YouTube video by Buff Dudes titled “We Ate Nothing but CHICKEN and BROCCOLI for a week, Here’s What Happened,” has more than 2 million views.
What Can You Eat on a Chicken Diet?
Usually, a chicken diet consists of only chicken. Sometimes a chicken diet might also incorporate non-starchy vegetables, like broccoli, a la Buff Dudes.
Can You Lose Weight on a Chicken Diet?
You can lose weight on a chicken diet, but there are healthier ways to drop pounds.
Yes. Let’s look at the number of calories in a skinless chicken breast, which is the leanest cut of meat on the chicken. One 3.5-ounce breast has 160 calories, according to the USDA. (Plus, a whopping 32 grams of protein and just 3 grams of fat.)
Because you lose weight by going into a calorie deficit, it will be rather easy to consume fewer calories by eating chicken only. For one, a small breast (a 3.5-ounce piece of meat is roughly the size of a deck of cards) packs 32 grams of filling protein, so it’ll likely keep you satiated. What’s more, eating only one food is extremely limiting. Think about how much chicken breast you could actually eat in a day (without, you know, totally hating chicken breast by dinnertime), and it’s easy to see how you could cut calories rather effortlessly.
Weight loss alone does not make a diet healthy, however.
“I think going on a chicken-only diet is potentially very unsafe both in the short-term and certainly in the long-term,” says Melina Jampolis, MD, a board-certified physician nutrition specialist in Valley Village, California, and author of Spice Up, Live Long . That’s because of both the macro and micronutrient deficiencies that come with limiting yourself to only one food, which can have both short- and long-term effects on your health (more on that in a minute).
What’s more, the only good thing about eating one food and one food alone is that it makes dieting really simple, Dr. Jampolis says. Still: “That is not a good enough reason to just eat chicken,” she says.
Benefits of a Chicken Diet
Let’s look at some of the pros of including chicken in your diet:
1. Chicken Is a Great Source of Protein
Chicken itself can be part of a healthy diet, as it is a source of lean protein. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), chicken is a healthier protein choice than red meat because it contains less saturated fat. A diet high in saturated fat can increase your risk of heart failure, heart disease and the most common type of stroke.
The AHA also says that eating a lot of meat is not a good way to lose weight, especially if you have heart disease.
2. Chicken Is Linked to Healthy Weight Management
The research mostly suggests that there’s value in eating chicken in the context of a healthy diet (not alone). For example, a June 2015 study in Food and Nutrition Research states that consuming poultry as part of a vegetable-rich diet is associated with reduced risk of overweight or obesity, and a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular diseases or type 2 diabetes. The study also says that white meat is considered neutral or moderately protective in terms of cancer risk.
3. Chicken Is a Good Source of Vitamins
The same study indicates that meat, not just chicken, is the ideal dietary source of B12. B vitamins in poultry are similar to what’s found in other meats and don’t diminish during cooking. Chicken provides a good dose of niacin and is a good source of selenium. Lean meat contains factors that encourage the bioavailability of a number of nutrients as well.
If you are eating chicken, make sure it’s prepared in a healthy way, like steamed, roasted, broiled or grilled. Having just one serving per week of fried chicken is associated with 13 percent higher odds of death, per a BMJ study from January 2019.
Drawbacks of a Chicken Diet
Eat chicken alongside other healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans.
Image Credit: wmaster890/iStock/GettyImages
Here are the (many) cons of trying a chicken-only diet:
1. It’s Not Sustainable
Overall, a chicken diet is not something you can do for very long, and therefore not a long-term weight-loss solution. Once you start eating normally again, you’ll likely gain back any weight you lose while just eating chicken.
2. You Could Develop Nutritional Deficiencies
“Just eating chicken could lead to a number of nutritional deficiencies, including B vitamins, which are important for energy production, vitamin C for healthy immune function, as well as skin and gums, and magnesium and fiber. And that’s naming just a few,” Dr. Jampolis says.
3. It Can Sap Your Energy
After going on a chicken diet, you might notice that your energy is running really low and you may have brain fog, as “the brain and red blood cells function on glucose,” Dr. Jampolis adds.
A protein-rich chicken diet is not a ketogenic diet, which is high in fat and moderate in protein. She explains that on the keto diet, your body adapts so that your brain can run on ketones after about five to seven days. A protein-only diet will not cause those ketogenic adaptations, leaving you dragging.
4. It Could Harm Your Gut Health
Other side effects include possible severe constipation from consuming zero fiber.
Your gut microbiome could also shift out of balance, which Dr. Jampolis says can happen in just a few days. So, you might feel pretty awful pretty quickly.
5. It Could Cause a Host of Other Health Issues
Long-term, without calcium and vitamin K, there’s a risk that you could harm your bone health.
Without any vitamin C, a nutrient found in abundance in fruits and vegetables, there’s the risk of scurvy, Dr. Jampolis adds. Scurvy is a disease that happened to sailors centuries ago during long voyages, when they didn’t have access to fresh food. Scurvy stems from vitamin C deficiency that leads to weakness, anemia, gum disease and skin hemorrhages (bleeding into the skin), notes the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Also, Dr. Jampolis says, without antioxidants in your diet, which counteract disease-causing free radicals, following a chicken-only diet may raise the risk for cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
6 Low Calorie Chicken Recipes that Promote Weight Loss
So, my top favorite recipes for chicken include:
From the Grill
Homemade spice rubs are one of my favorite ways to season chicken. From Joyful Healthy eats this recipe is 246 calories for 6oz chicken. It contains 9 grams of fats 0 grams of carbohydrates and 39 Grams of protein. If you are worried about the calories, decrease the amount from 6oz to 3 ounces.
2) Well Plated Grilled Chicken:
Everyone loves a well rounded flavorful marinade that can be used in a variety of recipes, and this is just that. This chicken marinade from Well Plated is 246 Calories for 7 oz of chicken. It contains 1 gram of carbohydrates, 42 grams of protein and 7 grams of fat. This recipe is delicious to eat with a lemon rice or rice pilaf.
3) Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Recipe:
Mediterranean Grilled Chicken is spot on amazing and delicious. With the creamy texture form the marinade it allows the chicken to just melt in your mouth. I want to give you a couple of tricks though. The recipe calls for chicken thighs, which are higher in fats compared to chicken breasts. If you are wanting to decrease fats change which cut of meat you are using. This recipes as is contains 307 Calories, 16.9 grams of fat, 5.2 grams of carbohydrates and 33.1 grams of protein.
From the Crockpot
4) Joy Food Sunshine:
Crockpot Chicken Chili is delicious. Not only is it low in calories but it has tons of flavor. The total calories for 1 cup are 194. The chicken chili contains 23.6 grams of carbohydrates, 18.5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fat. This is a family and busy life favorite recipe. It goes in the crockpot and is able to cook all day.
5) Diethood Honey Garlic Chicken:
This Honey Garlic Chicken has a lot of strong flavors and is great for a dish that uses rice or even on a salad. The chicken just melts in your mouth and makes you want to eat more. Per serving this recipe is 227 calories. 3 grams of fat, 23 grams of carbohydrates and 25 grams of protein.
6) Pinch of Yum:
Have you ever had an amazing Crockpot Quinoa Chicken Primavera? I love this recipe because not only does it have chicken, but it has a variety of other vegetables and quinoa. Quinoa contains high nutritional benefits such as high fiber and protein and contains many more nutrients.
So, Should You Try a Chicken Diet?
No. Not even in the short term. Do not try a chicken-only diet.
You can include chicken as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet plan that includes a variety of other foods, such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Choosing chicken over other proteins, like red meat, may also be a smart choice because it’s lower in calories and fat.