People sometimes eat skinless chicken breasts when trying to lose weight because they're relatively high in protein and low in fat. Simply adding chicken breasts to what you already eat won't result in weight loss, however. To see a gradual drop in weight, you must eat chicken breasts in place of another higher-calorie food and reduce your overall caloric intake.
Eating Chicken Breast and Weight Loss
The main reason chicken breast is sometimes recommended for weight loss purposes is its protein content. Each 3-ounce serving of white chicken meat provides 25 grams of protein. A review published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2015 found that meals that contain at least 25 grams of protein may help people increase their satiety levels so they don't eat as much later on in the day, helping them to better manage their body weight.
Cutting Calories to Lose Weight
To lose 1 pound per week, you'll need to cut 500 calories out of your diet each day to make up the 3,500 calories in that pound. A 3-ounce serving of roasted chicken breast has about 170 calories. This is about 70 calories less than the same amount of roasted chicken wings or broiled small end beef rib steak and 130 calories less than a 3-ounce serving of roasted large end beef rib roast. You'll save 110 calories by choosing chicken breast instead of braised brisket or country-style pork loin ribs and 160 calories over braised pork spareribs, but won't save any calories over leaner cuts of beef, such as eye of round steak or round-top round steak. As you can see, simply changing another meat for chicken breast isn't likely to be enough to lose weight quickly; you'll most likely need to make other dietary changes as well.
What to Eat With Chicken Breast
One way to eat a more balanced reduced-calorie meal is to divide your plate evenly bewteen whole grains -- or starchy vegetables like potatoes or corn -- fruit, non-starchy vegetables like broccoli or green beans, and your protein source, which in this case is chicken breast.
Overall, it's a good idea to try to eat mainly foods that are low in energy density when you're trying to lose weight. Energy density is the amount of calories per gram in a food. Low-energy-density foods are more filling than high-energy-density foods because you can eat more of them for fewer calories, which means you're less likely to be hungry in between meals. Fruits, vegetables and broth-based soups all contain a lot of fiber or water, which makes them lower in energy density, while fried foods, fatty meats and sweet treats tend to be high in fat or sugar, making them higher in energy density.
Alternatives to Daily Chicken Breast
If you prefer beef to chicken, you don't necessarily have to make the switch to eating chicken; just choose a lean cut of beef. A study published in Nutrition in 2003 found that people lost about the same amount of weight when following a reduced-calorie diet and exercising whether they ate chicken or lean beef. Lean cuts of pork include loin chops, tenderloin and top roast boneless pork loin. Other good protein sources to eat during weight loss include skinless turkey breast or drumsticks, beans and other legumes, eggs, seafood and moderate amounts of nuts.
Increasing Potential Weight Loss Benefits
When people try to lose weight, what they really want to lose is fat, not muscle. If you don't exercise in addition to cutting calories, about one-fourth of the weight that you lose will come from your muscle instead of fat. To avoid this, you'll need to do a mix of cardio and strength training exercises. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends doing strength-training exercises at least twice a week and spending at least 2 hours and 30 minutes doing moderate-intensity cardio each week.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Low-Energy-Dense Foods and Weight Management: Cutting Calories While Controlling Hunger Low-Energy-Dense Foods and Weight Management: Cutting Calories While Controlling Hunge
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Finding a Balance
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Pork & Lamb Nutrition Facts
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Beef & Veal Nutrition Facts
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Chicken & Turkey Nutrition Facts
- Nutrition: Weight Loss and Total Lipid Profile Changes in Overweight Women Consuming Beef or Chicken as the Primary Protein Source
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: The Role of Protein in Weight Loss and Maintenance
- American Council on Exercise: What Are the Guidelines for Percentage of Body Fat Loss?