A previous blog (http://www.chicken.org.au/chookchat/can-chicken-help-long-term-weight-loss/ ) discussed some of the ways in which lean chicken can contribute to achieving your healthy weight goals, and the reasons for this. High amongst these was that:
- Chicken meat has the equivalent protein content of beef, lamb and pork. One 100g serve of chicken breast provides more than 50% of the recommended dietary intake of protein.
- Higher protein diets can play a role in helping some people lose weight and maintain weight loss.
- Protein consumption is generally accepted to make you feel ‘fuller’ than consumption of carbohydrate or fat, and helps to overcome the sensation of ‘feeling hungry’, which people often give as a key reason that they fail to achieve their weight loss goals.
But how does this work?
Well, it has long been known that certain nutrients in foods – specifically, amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins – are very efficient nutrients in satisfying hunger. It is well understood that this is in part because protein-rich foods are more slowly digested, and they keep blood glucose levels relatively constant, thereby reducing those food cravings that can often occur soon after we’ve already eaten a meal.
However, some new research has shown that these nutrients also directly tell our brains that we should no longer be hungry and has provided some new insights into why it is that eating certain foods, including chicken meat, makes us feel full, overcoming the sensation of lingering hunger that can drive us to overeat.
The research, conducted by researchers at the University of Warwick in the UK and published in the scientific journal Molecular Metabolism in November 2017, for the first time identified cells in the brain – called tanycytes – which detect specific nutrients in food and respond by triggering feelings of satiety (‘fullness’), thereby controlling appetite. A summary of this research can be found here https://warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/brain_cells_that/
The research identified two amino acids – arginine and lysine – that react most with tanycytes, and which therefore are likely to make you feel fuller.
Some foods have more of these amino acids than others – and, guess what? Chicken is a great source of these amino acids!
Add these two additional facts:
- lean chicken cuts are low in fat and, importantly, more than 55% of what fat is present is unsaturated fat
- chicken meat remains by far the most affordable lean meat for Australian consumers
and you now have three very good reasons why lean chicken meat is great dietary choice for maintaining a healthy body weight.
How many times have you heard it reported that Australia is in the grip of an obesity epidemic?
Well, to help to address this, this week (13 – 19 February) the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) is organising online initiatives and a series of activities around Australia in support of Australia’s Healthy Weight Week (AHWW). AHWW is an initiative of the DAA aimed at raising awareness of the importance of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle.
The ACMF is proud to be a sponsor of Australia’s Healthy Weight Week 2017, now in it’s tenth year.
In a previous blog (Can chicken help long term weight loss?) I explained some of the attributes of lean chicken meat that contribute to maintaining a healthy ‘waistline’, which include:
- Chicken meat has the equivalent protein content of beef, lamb and pork.
- One 100g serve of chicken breast provides more than 50% of the recommended dietary intake of protein*. Higher protein diets can play a role in helping some people lose weight and maintain weight loss. Protein consumption is generally accepted to increase satiety to a greater extent than carbohydrate or fat and may facilitate a reduction in energy consumption. This helps to overcome the ‘feeling hungry’ that people often cite as one of the key reasons they fail to achieve weight loss goals.
- Lean chicken cuts are low in fat and, importantly, over 55% of the total fat content is unsaturated fat (see: http://www.chicken.org.au/page.php?id=224).
- Lean chicken is extremely versatile, easy to cook with and tasty!
Add to this the fact that lean chicken remains by far the most affordable lean meat on the Australian market, and you have several very good reasons why lean chicken meat can help you out with your ‘bottom line’!
I’d encourage everyone to get involved in a Healthy Weight Week event – go to http://healthyweightweek.com.au/events/ to find one in your area. Personally, I’m going along to the cook-off with the Week’s Ambassadors Callum Hann and Themis Chryssidis (http://healthyweightweek.com.au/celebrity-cooking-events/) being held in Pitt Street Mall, Sydney on Monday 13 February to kick start the Week. I understand that chicken will be on their menu!
Download the great ‘Everyday Healthy’ recipe book full of healthy meal options to prepare at home – it’s free – and check out these great chicken dishes: Cajun chicken burger with yogurt sauce and purple slaw, Allspice chicken with chimichurri and brown rice, or Poached chicken salad with Chinese cabbage, coriander and sesame – YUM!
Put on a few extra kgs over the festive season? Well, you’re not alone there!
This week (15 -21 February) is Australia’s Healthy Weight Week (healthyweightweek.com.au) – an initiative of the Dietitians Association of Australia, aimed at raising awareness of the importance of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. It’s a great concept and I’d encourage you to get involved.
It’s also a timely prompt to think about how chicken can contribute to achieving your healthy weight goals – and most importantly, staying there.
According to Lauren McGuckin, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, “Higher protein diets can play a role in helping some people lose weight and maintain weight loss. Lean chicken can contribute significantly to a higher protein diet and healthy eating.”
This comment hints at an interesting proposition for some – that you may not actually need to ‘go on a diet’ to actively lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Well the concept isn’t as ‘far fetched’ as it might sound to some. In fact, results of research undertaken by the ACMF a couple of years back (ACMF Diet and Chicken Survey. Galaxy Research 2010) showed that seven out of ten adults had made a conscious effort to lose weight in the previous two years, but only 7% of those ‘dieters’ actually succeed in reaching their long-term weight loss goal. The main reasons identified for this were:
- 65% of dieters only cut down on high calorie food when attempting to lose weight.
- 55% of dieters simply eat less of the food they are already eating when attempting to lose weight.
- 50% of all dieters will fail because they say they love food too much.
- 43% of dieters will fail to lose weight in the long-term because of a lack of willpower.
- 33% of people fail to achieve their weight target because they think dieting is too boring or there is not enough variety in diet options.
- 30% of dieters will crumble because they always feel hungry.
- 16% of dieters said that they didn’t achieve their goal because counting calories is too hard.
- Women dieters in particular find it hard to stick to eating ‘diet foods’, especially if they are the only one doing so in the family group.
- Men in particular are susceptible to falling off the diet bandwagon because they feel hungry.
If any of these sound familiar, then perhaps you need to think afresh about the beneficial role chicken could play in your diet.
Lets see how chicken’s main attributes stack up…
- Chicken meat has the equivalent protein content of beef, lamb and pork. One 100g serve of chicken breast provides more than 50% of the recommended dietary intake of protein*. Protein consumption is generally accepted to increase satiety to a greater extent than carbohydrate or fat and may facilitate a reduction in energy consumption. This helps to overcome the ‘feeling hungry’ reason for failure to achieve weight loss goals described at 6 and 9 above.
- Lean chicken cuts are low in fat and, importantly, over 55% of the total fat content is unsaturated fat.*
- Chicken is a valuable source of minerals and also contains essential vitamins and all essential amino acids.
- Lean chicken remains by far the most affordable lean meat on the Australian market.
- Lean chicken is extremely versatile and easy to cook with…there are plenty of ways to prepare and enjoy it, so lack of variety in the diet (see point 5 above) does not need to come into play.
- Consumer surveys tell us that chicken is a food which is popular with the whole family, so it’s easy to include it in meals that the whole family will enjoy (so much for point 89 above).
- Forget about ‘excuses’ 3, 4, 5 above – chicken tastes good too!
*ACMF Nutrition Report – Food Health and Nutrition: Where Does Chicken Fit? May 2008 (see http://www.chicken.org.au/page.php?id=224 )
So, can chicken help you to get back on track? Definitely!
The most important nutritional fact to remember about chicken meat is that it is an excellent source of high quality protein while having generally lower fat levels (and particularly saturated fatty acids) compared with other meats.
Many people incorrectly believe that chicken doesn’t provide the same density or quality of protein that red meat delivers – the reality is quite different. In fact, the protein content of all meats (chicken, beef, lamb and pork) is almost identical – around 22% for raw lean trimmed meat cuts.
Some other key facts about the nutritional quality of chicken:
- Chicken is really low in fat compared with other meats
- Chicken is really low in saturated fatty acids compared with other meats
- All meats provide a wide range of vitamins and minerals, and different meats may provide these at different levels. For example, beef and lamb contain more iron and zinc that chicken meat, but chicken is one of the best sources (and highest of all meats) of niacin, an important nutrient for energy metabolism.