Ever wonder what running and the breast meat of chicken have in common? Okay, so this topic hasn’t been at the forefront of your brain, but now that we’ve posed the question, aren’t you curious?
Frankly, we don’t think that chicken gets the respect it deserves in most households, yet as a runner, it’s likely a mainstay on your home menus and, if you’re like most athletes, a chicken breast makes a great, quick meat to prepare when you need energy but haven’t a lot of time to cook.
No matter how you prepare it, a chicken breast tastes great. But did you know that when it comes to benefiting a runner’s body, you couldn’t make a better food choice?
Benefits of eating chicken breast
Let’s start by declaring chicken breast the most common muscle-building food available to runners and you don’t have to allocate a huge portion of your grocery money to buy this cut because chicken is one of the most reasonably-priced proteins found at supermarkets and butchers shops.
Loaded with protein, chicken is versatile, so whether you want to braise it, grill it, fry it, poach or bake it, you’re going to consume a higher protein-to-fat ratio (an amazing 19:1) than you would had you chosen any other part of the bird.
Easily digested and yummy, chicken breast meat repairs muscle tissue and cells that can become damaged as a result of over training and since a six-ounce breast only adds 187 calories and 2 grams of fat to your daily intake, benefits keep coming!
Pack on the nutrients, too
Suffice to say that as a runner, you’re interested in more than protein and fat, and in terms of minerals and vitamins, a chicken breast is ready to deliver on a promise to fortify your constitution with a big boost of these run-enhancing nutrients.
Tuck into a chicken breast meal and you’ll not only receive a boost of the entire spectrum of vitamins and minerals, but most of the Niacin, Vitamin B6, Iron, Selenium and Zinc you require in a single day.
Sugars? You can forget about them. Chickens are so particular about what they eat, poultry researchers have even proven that hens looking after their youngsters actually teach them to avoid colour-coded grains that could make them ill.
How those nutrients fortify your body
If you’re already impressed by the bounty of nutrients found in a single chicken breast, it’s time to learn what this cut can do for your health and well being.
Eat just one slice of chicken breast a day and reap huge dividends. That daily recommended allowance of Niacin performs miracles when it converts carbohydrates, fats and proteins into usable energy.
Vitamin B6 assists your body in efficiently using carbs that are stored in your body during vigorous runs and, courtesy of a single chicken breast, pulses of oxygen radiate through muscles thanks to an infusion of Iron.
Post-run, Selenium found in a chicken breast hastens tissue and muscle repairs, aids thyroid function and boosts metabolism, while Zinc supports anabolic hormone production and even helps you avoid coming down with colds and flu.
Does it matter how you cook your chicken breast?
Are you ready for some great news? According to a study conducted by the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, you don’t have to take a pass on that fast food restaurant because you're afraid a fried chicken breast can adversely affect your health or weight.
When eaten in moderation, even a fried breast can boost glycogen recovery, and that boost compares to eating a protein bar or drinking a sports beverage when it comes to optimizing muscle repair.
But if you’re going to go for the grease and the savoury sensation of a fried chicken breast, eat it during your recovery period (within four hours) or you’ll just pack on weight and feel lousy instead.
Things you never knew about chickens
- Eat lean chicken breasts to keep your blood pressure stable and reduce your risk of cancer, too.
- Chicken has been around forever! Don’t laugh when you read this, but in some circles, scientists believe that chickens have such deep prehistoric roots, they are said to be the closest living relative to Tyrannosaurus Rex.
- Chickens are raised and their breasts are eaten everywhere on the planet. They’ve even been used in bartering exchanges throughout history when they were traded for clothing, supplies and given away in bridal dowries.
- Chickens, according to scientists who breed poultry, can recognize up to 100 faces!
- Chicken soup is recognized universally as being one of the best remedies for common colds and sore throats.
- Eat chicken to reduce cholesterol accumulating in your arteries, says the American Heart Association.
Quick recipes using chicken breast meat
1. Chicken Salad
Chop roasted chicken breast meat into pieces, add cherries or cranberries, diced apples, chopped green onions, mushrooms and seedless grapes. Toss and serve with your favourite salad dressing.
2. Chicken sandwich
Toast and butter two slices of whole grain bread. Layer cucumber slices, beetroot, onion, and white meat chicken slices on one bread slice, add salt and pepper to taste and top with the second slice.
3. Oven fried chicken
Season chicken breasts with paprika and salt. Dip each piece into egg white and roll in crushed cornflakes. Bake on a greased tray until the chicken sizzles.
4. Chicken kabobs
Cut white meat, sweet onion, red bell pepper and any veggie you like into chunks. Thread these ingredients onto skewers. Roast the kabobs over an open flame until they are grilled.
5. Chicken quesadilla
Pre-heat a lightly oiled pan. Place a tortilla into the pan and add chopped white meat chicken, black beans and shredded cheese. Place a second tortilla on top and compress. Flip the quesadilla to brown both sides and melt the cheese. Serve with rice.
6. Chicken cacciatore
In a skillet, sauté chopped white meat chicken, mushrooms, onions, peppers and garlic in oil until browned. Add crushed tomatoes, basil, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 15 minutes or so. Add grated Parmesan cheese for an authentic Italian touch.
How about adding your favourite chicken breast recipe to our collection? The easier the better! So tell us now, why did the chicken cross the road?