What Happens To Your Muscles When You Eat Chicken Every Day

Ask any bodybuilder how they pack on muscle, and they'll often tell you how important diet factors into their physique. You might see them drinking a whey protein shake after a workout, but when they sit down for a healthy meal, it will most likely include red meat or chicken (per Muscle & Fitness). It's the protein in these foods that not only helps your body sustain and repair muscle but also plays a role in producing hormones and immune cells.

What's great about chicken is that it's a complete protein, meaning you'll get all nine essential amino acids that you need from food sources. Eating chicken every day also means you won't miss out on your protein needs. According to Harvard Medical School, most adults need about 0.8 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight, which comes to about 54 grams for someone weighing 150 pounds. Three ounces of grilled chicken breast has 128 calories, 26 grams of protein, and less than 3 grams of fat. When you eat chicken every day, you can feed your muscles without adding too much fat to your diet.

How chicken builds muscle

Eating chicken alone won't help you build muscle. You'll need to incorporate strength training for that. When you put enough stress on your muscles, you create small tears on them. Your body needs to repair these micro-tears in your muscles, so that's where chicken and other proteins come in. When you consume chicken, your body breaks down the protein into amino acids to create new muscle to smooth over the tears (per Transparent Labs).

While eating chicken helps you build new muscle, eating too much chicken won't help you build more muscle. Instead, the extra protein can be used for energy, but if you don't use that energy, your body will store it as fat, says Oklahoma State University.

Aside from protein, chicken has niacin to help your body convert food sources into energy. Your body needs vitamin B6 from chicken to draw stored glycogen from your muscles for more energy. While you're training hard, iron shuttles oxygen to your muscles so you can work harder. Selenium found in chicken breasts not only gives your metabolism a boost but also helps repair your cells. Zinc is a mineral that helps your body build muscle by supporting hormone production (per Muscle & Fitness).

Chicken shouldn't be your only protein source

According to WebMD, a serving of chicken at your meals will help you feel full so you'll eat less and you may lose weight as you take in fewer calories. If you feel rather gloomy, eating chicken can give your mood a boost from its tryptophan, which is an amino acid that is linked to higher levels of the hormone serotonin. Given these benefits in addition to its ability to build muscle, you might think that eating a chicken-only diet might save time when trying to plan meals. 

However, while chicken might be a healthy source of protein, you'll want to avoid eating chicken all the time. Following a chicken-only diet could cause you to develop unhealthy eating patterns and miss out on important nutrients, according to Healthline. You'll be missing healthy fats such as omega-3. You'll also need to incorporate other protein sources to give you the fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, and other vitamins to complete your diet. This might include salmon, yogurt, edamame, or beans (per EatingWell).

When you do eat chicken, the breast is your healthiest choice because it's lower in fat compared to the darker meat found in the thigh and drumstick. You'll want to avoid the skin of chicken because it adds to your daily intake of saturated fat.