Farm to FUEL: Chicken
What came first the chicken or the egg? As a registered dietitian, I don’t really care. Both offer superior nutrition and are a versatile source of protein. Chicken is an affordable and healthy alternative to red meat. Here in the South we refer to it as the “Gospel Bird” and often enjoy it smothered covered and fried on Sundays. All things (even fried chicken) in moderation but for athletes it is best to enjoy hens roasted, broiled, grilled or poached to make the most nutritious meal.
Runners and humans alike are built on proteins which are the foundation of lean muscle mass. Four-ounces of skinless chicken provide 18 grams of protein and only 100 calories. Endurance athletes should note that chicken is packed with niacin, selenium, and Vitamin B6 all crucial for enhancing performance.
Chicken prevents cancer?
Yes, chicken is an excellent source of the cancer-protective B vitamin, niacin and trace mineral selenium. Our DNA requires niacin to avoid genetic mutation (cancer). Selenium guards our immune function and connected to DNA repair to stop the spread of cancer cells. Four-ounces of chicken provides ¾ our daily value (DV) for niacin and nearly ½ our DV for selenium.
B vitamins for Energy
Vitamin B6, plentiful in chicken, supports energy metabolism. B vitamins are essential for the conversion of the body’s proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into usable energy. Anytime athletes can improve the processing of carbohydrates to glycogen (energy) for storage in the muscle is a performance plus!
FUEL Up At Home
The breast wins the award for the leanest portion of the bird but it isn’t the only nutritious part. Be open to enjoying the wings, legs and thighs for a variety of flavors and nutrition. Note eating the chicken with the skin doubles the amount of saturated fat. For this reason, chicken is best skinned before eating. Feel free to leave the skin on during cooking to lock in moisture and flavor. Whenever possible choose humanely raised and grass finished chickens.
Rebecca Turner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a registered dietitian and certified sports specialist in dietetics and founder of Runner’s FUEL. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @RunnersFuel. For more information visit www.runner-fuel.com. Text runnersfuel to 601.863.8370 for health news and nutrition tips.