Movie star Matt Damon ate only chicken breasts to lose 60 pounds for his role in the 1996 film "Courage Under Fire." While it was effective for him, does it make sense for you to stick to chicken and vegetables for weight loss?
A vegetables and chicken diet could lead to weight loss, as long as you keep your portion sizes moderate. However, you’re likely to face issues of compliance, as a diet this dull is hard to maintain for the long-term.
In the most basic equation, eating fewer calories than you burn yields weight loss. Restricting yourself to steamed vegetables and chicken could very well bring you to this caloric deficit, but it may also leave you feeling deprived and nutritionally-deficient. You may lose weight in the short-term, but it will be hard to sustain for the long-term.
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Steamed Vegetables and Chicken Diet
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans notes that the average adult needs between 1,600 and 3,000 calories per day to maintain their weight. Of course, the exact amount depends on your age, size and activity level.
Reducing your calorie intake below what you burn leads to weight loss. Cutting carbohydrates to low levels, about 26 percent or less of all calories, can also induce rapid weight loss, explains Stat Pearls in research updated in July, 2019. A steamed vegetables and chicken diet that includes skinless roast or grilled chicken breast and leafy greens is low in both calories and carbohydrates.
If you choose green, watery vegetables without added butter or full-fat salad dressing, you also save a lot of calories. One cup of mixed vegetables contains 88 calories, 4 grams of protein and 18 grams of carbohydrates.
Recipes to Try
Here are a few recipes to try if you're following a chicken-and-veggie diet for weight loss:
Steamed Vegetable Diet Benefits
While a steamed vegetables and chicken diet seems healthy enough, as it offers notable fiber in the vegetables, and lean protein in the chicken, it could leave you without some essential nutrients. This can lead to dietary boredom and hunger, making this a difficult diet to sustain.
Diets rich in vegetables can help you avoid weight gain, according to research published in a November 2018 issue of Nutrients. Eating more than four servings of vegetables per day seems most effective. Those people with the highest vegetable intake had a 17 percent lower risk of obesity.
Vegetables are high in fiber and water, so they can help you feel satiated. If you use them to replace higher calorie foods, especially processed carbohydrates and sugars, you save calories and can experience weight loss.
Diets rich in fruits and vegetables, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), may also help reduce the risk of some types of cancer and other chronic disease. Fresh produce is full of essential vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
The key to benefiting from your vegetable intake is to ensure that you choose a variety of types of vegetables. Those that grow above ground and that are lower in carbohydrate content tend to support weight loss the most, explains Stat Pearls.
Why Steamed Foods Are a Healthy Choice
There are several reasons to include steamed foods in a healthy weight-loss diet:
- Conserved nutrients: Steaming is considered one of the best ways to preserve the nutrients in vegetables, including water-soluble nutrients like vitamins B and C. That's because the veggies aren't completely submerged in water like they are when you boil them.
- Low calorie counts: Steaming uses only water. This cuts down on calories, as you don't need to add oil or butter like you do when you fry or sauté veggies.
- Uses less fat: The CDC recommends steaming your vegetables when you're trying to manage your weight, as it uses less fat than techniques like breading and frying.
Not a Perfect Diet
While you may lose weight initially with the low-calorie, low-carbohydrate and low-fat nature of a steamed vegetable and chicken diet, it is not perfect. As a comprehensive review published in Healthcare in September 2018 notes, no single dietary strategy is right for every person.
The researchers go on to point out that many dietary strategies for weight loss have research supporting their effectiveness, but ultimately the key to successful weight loss requires a combination of multiple dietary efforts, including low-calorie, low carb, low fat, as well as focusing on whole, natural foods. Ultimately, successful weight loss is best achieved without severe restrictions or overemphasis of specific nutrients or foods, to the exclusion of all others.
Steamed vegetables and chicken makes a good meal to include on a weight-loss plan, but don't be afraid to add some variety, too.Whole grains, fresh fruit and low-fat dairy are all great, delicious sources of healthy calories.
- Stat Pearls: "Low Carbohydrate Diet"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "How to Use Fruits and Vegetables to Lose Weight"
- Nutrients: "The Relationship between Vegetable Intake and Weight Outcomes: A Systematic Review of Cohort Studies"
- Men's Journal: "‘All I Ate Was Chicken Breast’: Matt Damon Reveals How He Dropped 60 Pounds for ’90s Role"
- USDA Food Data Central: "Chicken Breast, Meat Only"
- USDA Food Data Central: "Mixed Vegetables"
- U.S. Dietary Guidelines: "Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level"
- Healthcare: "Defining the Optimal Dietary Approach for Safe, Effective and Sustainable Weight Loss in Overweight and Obese Adults"