Be it roasted, broiled, grilled or poached chicken is one of the most versatile meats around. It can be combined with a wide range of herbs, spices, grains, and vegetables to make a delicious, flavorful and nutritious meal. Chicken is one of the world’s primary source of animal protein and a healthy alternative to red meat. Chicken is the kind of meat that can fit into almost any “diet”, thanks in part to its protein, tryptophan, selenium, and B vitamins.
Most of us know chicken is a great source of protein and happy healthy hair needs a proper intake of protein. This nutrient is essential for growth and replenishment. A serving of a 4-ounce chicken breast (skin excluded) will contain roughly about 67% of the recommended daily intake of protein. Also with this serving comes an excellent source of tryptophan, an essential amino acid that the body uses to synthesize the protein it needs. There’s no point in having the protein there if the body can’t utilize it properly and tryptophan helps ensure that proper utilization is facilitated. Protein also helps to protect against bone loss in older individuals. A study conducted showed that men and women, ages 70 to 90, with adequate protein intake lost less bone over a four-year period compared to individuals with a lowered protein intake. It should be noted that animal protein was also associated with this finding.
Chicken also contains cancer protective nutrients. Chicken is a good source of the B vitamin niacin, a cancer protective vitamin. Certain components of DNA require niacin, and research has been able to prove a direct link of niacin deficiency (as well as other B-complex vitamin deficiencies) to genetic (DNA) damage. In a 4-ounce serving of chicken, roughly 72% of the recommended daily intake of niacin is provided. As a bonus, the B-vitamins found in chicken also helps to promote cardiovascular health by converting chemicals that can damage the walls of blood vessels to more useful chemicals for the body. These vitamins also provide energy by being co-factors that support various metabolic reactions within the body.
Selenium is also found in chicken and has been shown to be cancer protective. Selenium is of great importance to human health. It is an essential component of major metabolic pathways, including thyroid hormone metabolism, antioxidant reliant defense systems, and immune function. Evidence from studies and intervention trials on animal models of cancer has suggested a strong inverse relation between selenium intake and cancer incidence. Selenium has been shown to induce DNA repair and synthesis in damaged cells, thereby inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells, and induce the self-destruct sequence the body uses to eliminate worn our or abnormal cells. Selenium also helps the body utilize protein properly, which may help foster better growth. However it should be noted that because a little selenium is good, it does not mean that more is better. Too much selenium can become toxic and can result in hair loss as well as other serious problems.
Chicken is very popular in the U.S., as well as throughout the world, and for good reason. It’s delicious, nutritious, and can be used almost anywhere red meat can. Grilled chicken can be substituted for ground beef in tacos, or atop a plate of fettuccine Alfredo. A chicken breast can look just as delicious atop a whole-wheat bun with a vinegar based barbeque sauce as it does swimming around in little chunks in soup. Take care to remember that when preparing chicken extreme caution must be taken to ensure that raw chicken does not come into contact with other foods, especially those being served uncooked. Wash the cutting board, utensils and even your hands very well with hot soapy water after handling chicken. This prevents what is called cross contamination, or the transfer of harmful bacteria from one food to another. It’s also a good idea to use skinless chicken or at least remove the skin just before eating. The majority, if not all, of the fat found on any animal (humans included) will be found directly under the skin between the skin and muscle (lean meat). Consuming chicken with skin doubles the amount of fat and saturated fat in a serving, which quickly turns this super food into a not so super food. So remember these tips in mind when you are preparing to wow your family, or yourself, with your next chicken dish.
Question: What are some of the best ways to combat hitting a plateau?
Answer: Well first let’s define exactly what a plateau is in terms of fitness. Basically, its when you reach a point in your exercise routine where you start to notice no more changes or results. You stop loosing pounds or inches and you feel like you’ve basically hit a wall. Everyone will eventually hit a plateau at some point in his or her fitness routine. It’s perfectly natural and should be expected. So how do we break this?
Well, first you must find the cause (can’t fix the problem if you don’t know what’s causing it). Is it possible that you’re eating more calories than you think? Or are you eating too few calories? Even if you’re eating fewer calories than before you lost the weight, what you’re eating now could be just enough to maintain your current weight at your current activity level. Our bodies adjust their metabolism to resist weight changes. So you’ll burn fewer calories when you start consuming fewer calories. So if a diet of 2,000 calories per day gave the weight it’s walking papers, if you hit a plateau that 2,000 calories could be the exact amount your body needs to maintain it’s current weight.
So these are your options. Either lower your caloric intake further or increase the amount of time you spend being physically active. The first option may be hard and less desirable for some people because you can run into the danger of eating too few calories and not getting enough nutrients and still stuck in the plateau. This method is also hard to stick with for very long if you cut too many calories drastically. It is much better to moderately reduce calories to a level that you can sustain when you reach your weight goal.
The same goes for exercise. Let’s be honest, unless you’re a professionally paid athlete, exercising for several hours per day to burn more calories just doesn’t work for average person’s schedule. It’s also a good way to set you up for failure, over training, and overuse injuries. So aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week and as you become more conditioned, gradually increase the intensity and duration of your exercise sessions. Go for activities you enjoy, like dancing, walking though your favorite park or mall, or spin classes. The most effective exercise is the one you will do consistently.
Another way of breaking a plateau is by adding strength training, if you haven’t already done so. Adding muscle helps offset the metabolism-lowering effect of dieting and loosing weight. The more muscle you, have the higher your metabolism will be. If you’ve stopped loosing weight the key to getting off your plateau may be just adding a little variation to your program. The human body will adapt to the demands that you place on it so in order to progress we must continue to challenge our bodies. So you can shake things up by introducing some new elements and you might just find that’s exactly what you needed to break though the plateau and get yourself back on track.
(SIDE NOTE: I know to some that eating 2,000 calories for weight loss sounds like a lot but trust me for some people this may be what their bodies need if not more. This number depends on height, weight, age and level of physical activity. If you are not sure how many calories you should be taking in on a daily basis the American Council of Exercise has a daily caloric intake calculator that you can find here: http://www.acefitness.org/calculators/daily-caloric-needs-calculator.aspx. If you’re looking to loose weight subtract 250 calories from your total number and make sure you burn 250 calories in your workout a day. This will yield a loss of 1 pound of fat a week. Keep in mind that this is just an estimated amount of calories.)
Until next week, stay happy and healthy!