When you eat chicken every day, what happens to your body? Well, that depends on what part of the chicken you’re talking about, for one. While chicken breasts are generally considered to be the healthiest part of the bird, as noted by Healthline, there are also the wings, the drumsticks, the thighs, and even the offal to consider. Each of these cuts has its own unique nutritional profile, which is actually pretty impressive for such a small animal.
Additionally, what happens to your body when you eat chicken every day also depends on how you prepare it; there’s a world of difference between breaded, deep-fried chicken nuggets and boneless, skinless grilled chicken breasts — when it comes to both the nutritional profile and the flavor of the meat.
Taking all of that into consideration, we spoke to the experts and did some research of our own to find out exactly what happens to your body when you eat chicken every day. Read on to learn everything that we discovered about one of the most popular foods in America.
You can build muscle if you eat chicken every day
If you’re looking to put on some lean muscle mass and wondering what the best food is to eat when you’re lifting weights, to no one’s surprise, eating chicken every day might help you hit those fitness goals, according to certified personal trainer Jessica Mazzucco. "Eating chicken breast every day is great for muscle building," she told The List. "It is lean and one of the best sources of protein." Plus, chicken breasts are pretty easy to prepare and are widely available at grocery stores for a reasonable price.
In addition to helping you build muscle mass, eating chicken every day can preserve and protect your overall muscle health, as noted by Mazzuco. "Chicken breast is also a good source of leucine, which is vital for muscle growth, muscle repair, and improving endurance and strength," she continued. "The body itself can’t produce leucine, and it is an amino acid that breaks down in the muscles and helps with the generation of energy and muscle synthesis during exercise." Other parts of chicken can also help to pump you up, she noted, but be careful of the extra fat.
You may lose weight if you eat chicken every day
Just as eating chicken every day can help you build muscle, it can also help you stay satisfied longer, according to registered dietitian Mary Wirtz. "This is because chicken is composed mostly of protein, which takes longer to digest than carbohydrates such as rice or bread," she explained in a chat with The List. "If you struggle with a hearty, persistent appetite throughout the day, lean-cooked chicken is a great way to keep your hunger under control." And that, in turn, can help you lose weight, as you’ll be less prone to overeating, according to a study in the journal Appetite.
However, if you’re eating skin-on chicken, Wirtz said that the opposite can happen: You may gain weight. "This is because consuming the skin can double your calorie intake than if you were to simply choose grilled chicken breast without the skin," she continued. The same holds true for fried chicken, as noted by Reuters. So if you’re looking to slim down, ditch the fried chicken drumsticks for a grilled or even air-fried chicken breast.
Your blood pressure may improve if you eat chicken every day
According to the CDC, almost half of all American adults have high blood pressure, and only a quarter of them have it under any sort of control — to that end, if you’re looking to improve your blood pressure levels, eat chicken every day. Megan Wong, a registered dietitian with AlgaeCal, explained how it can help. "Your blood pressure may improve because chicken is an excellent source of potassium and a good source of magnesium," she shared with The List. "Potassium is a mineral that helps to keep blood pressure under control by balancing the effects of sodium." Wong added that the magnesium in chicken can widen your blood vessels and, in turn, improve your blood flow.
Once again, however, you have to consider the kind of chicken you’re eating, as noted by Wong. "Of course, the caveat here is how you prepare your chicken," she continued. "Flavor chicken with herbs, spices, citrus zests/juices, vinegars, garlic, ginger, etc. to limit added sodium/salt." Because if you eat too much sodium, your blood pressure will actually increase. And that’s no bueno.
Your immune system will thank you if you eat chicken every day
It’s pretty well-known that eating chicken every day will provide your diet with good protein. But, according to registered dietitian Trista Best, chicken also contains zinc, which is a super helpful nutrient. "Zinc is added to many supplements and health products as a way to boost the immune system," she explained in an interview with The List. "Zinc’s immune supporting characteristic isn’t widely known to the general population, but manufacturers of health and wellness products have been using it as a main ingredient for a long time." The more you know, huh?
So what exactly is it that zinc does once it’s in your body? "Immune cells depend on zinc for healthy development and function," Best continued. "In this way, zinc can not only protect against sickness but also decrease the duration of illness for those already sick." Given all of the anxiety that many of us experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, knowing there’s a natural (and delicious) way to protect yourself from disease is a win.
Your mood will get a boost if you eat chicken every day
In general, eating delicious food, such as chicken, will make you feel good, according to Science Daily. That’s because of the dopamine your brain rewards you with both after you take a bite and when food reaches your stomach.
And if you eat chicken every day you may find that you’re happier, according to certified personal trainer Jessica Mazzucco. "Eating chicken breast is known to enhance mood," she told The List. "It contains nutrients like B12, which has been found to reduce depression."
That’s not all that eating chicken can do for your mood, either, as Mazzucco explained. "It also contains the amino acid tryptophan, which plays a part in producing serotonin," she continued. "Serotonin is known to regulate mood and reduce stress." So if you’re looking for a way to get a little spring in your step and a smile on your face, get yourself to your favorite chicken restaurant.
Struggling with fertility? Eat chicken every day
While starting a family with a partner isn’t for everyone, for others it’s an often all-consuming prospect — that’s likely why you’ll often hear people talking about having "baby fever," or experiencing parental urges when they see other people’s wee ones — so how does eating chicken play into this?
If you’re one of those people whose ovaries all but sing when you spot a cute newborn, and you’re trying to conceive yourself, try eating chicken every day. It just might help you get a bun in the oven, according to registered dietitian Lauren Manaker. "Regardless of whether you are male or female, if you are trying to conceive, you may want to include chicken onto your plate," she penned in an article for Eat This, Not That! "Experts suggest that adherence to healthy diets that includes poultry are related to better fertility in women and better semen quality in men." Fascinating.
That’s not to say eating chicken every day is a treatment for the very real problem of infertility, but it might get you a leg up when you’re trying to conceive.
You’ll ingest much-needed nutrients if you eat chicken every day
We’ve already touched on some of the nutrients in chicken, like protein, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B12. According to Healthline, chicken breast also contains about half of your daily niacin, a third of the selenium you need, as well as phosphorus, vitamin B6, riboflavin, thiamine, potassium, and copper.
While those nutrients are definitely needed, make sure you eat more than just chicken every day, said registered dietitian Lauren Manaker. "If you are eating chicken every single day, you may not be eating other protein sources like seafood, beans, legumes, and other options that offer unique benefits that chicken doesn’t have," she wrote in an article for Eat This, Not That! "Eating chicken isn’t a bad thing, as long as you are eating a variety of other healthy foods to prevent nutrient gaps over the long run."
And though protein is good for you, make sure you’re not eating too much of it, as noted by registered dietitian Mary Wirtz. "Stick with four ounces cooked per meal, and load up on non-starchy veggies and a whole grain such as quinoa or brown rice to round out your meal," she told The List.
Your bones will be strong if you eat chicken every day
By eating chicken every day, you’re sure to get the protein you need to support your muscle and bone health. Speaking of protein, you already know that it’s an essential part of your diet. However, do you know why eating protein is good for you? "Protein supports bone health by building up/maintaining muscle mass," registered dietitian Megan Wong revealed in a chat with The List. "Muscles (when they contract) put a healthy stress on bones, which stimulates them to rebuild." And that’s a good thing.
Eating chicken every day gives you not only the protein you need to support your muscle and bone health, but there’s an additional benefit. "Protein is also needed for collagen formation, which helps keep bones both flexible and strong," Wong continued. She added that the potassium in chicken helps to "reduce the breakdown of bone" and that the magnesium in chicken "supports calcium absorption." That’s all the more reason to get excited about roasting a chicken for dinner, even if you do it all the time.
Your memory may improve if you eat chicken every day
Fortunately for those who eat chicken every day, you’re already doing something good for your memory health, according to registered dietitian Lauren Manaker. "Chicken contains choline, a nutrient that plays a role in memory and other brain functions," she explained in an article for Eat This, Not That! "Data suggests that those who consume more choline perform better on memory tests vs. those who did not consume a lot of this nutrient."
And while it might not be something that you think about often, especially if you’re on the younger side, memory health is super important. As Harvard Health Publishing put it, "our memories are crucial to the essence of who we are as human beings." It doesn’t get any more vital than that!
It’s not just the choline in chicken that benefits your brain, either. "Since chicken also contains vitamin B12, a nutrient that has been linked to memory function as well, consuming chicken can be a brain-boosting food thanks to the B12/choline combo," Manaker added. And don’t you forget it!
What happens to your risk of heart disease if you eat chicken every day?
According to the CDC, the number one cause of death in the United States is heart disease — to that end, if you’re a daily chicken eater concerned about your cardiovascular health, there’s good news for you. "As long [as] you are choosing lean cuts of chicken and [what] you are preparing isn’t fried, loaded with butter, and doused in unhealthy seasonings, eating it may help improve your heart health," registered dietitian Lauren Manaker penned in an article for Eat This, Not That! "Specifically, eating it as part of an overall healthy eating pattern can result in a reduction in ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol."
So if you’re grilling up chicken breast, or perhaps making super tender chicken thighs in your Instant Pot, that’s good for your heart health. But if you’re gorging on fried chicken from KFC or Chick-fil-A every day, that’s not going to do your ticker any favors.
Be sure your chicken is cooked thoroughly every day
While plenty of Americans enjoy eating their beef medium rare, you’ll never see someone chowing down on medium-rare chicken — and there’s a good reason for that. According to the CDC, there’s always a chance that raw chicken may be contaminated with bacteria like Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, or Campylobacter bacteria. That can lead to a pretty nasty bout of food poisoning, which, if you’ve had it, you know just how much you never want it again.
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to prevent getting sick from your daily chicken. Obviously, don’t eat raw or undercooked chicken, first and foremost. The CDC also recommends practicing good hand hygiene when preparing chicken, thoroughly washing any cutting boards and utensils after preparing raw chicken, storing leftover chicken at the proper temperature, and using a food thermometer to ensure your chicken is cooked. The CDC also discourages against "washing" raw chicken with water, as that can spread bacteria in your kitchen.
What happens to your risk of cancer if you eat chicken every day?
So, if you eat chicken every day, what happens to your risk of developing cancer? Well, the science is mixed on this front. On the plus side, registered dietitian Lauren Manaker explained that eating chicken can help fight one ugly cancer in particular. "In the United States, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths," she wrote in an article for Eat This, Not That! "And while many factors play a role in its development, including poultry in your diet (like chicken) may help reduce the incidence of this disease."
On the flip side, however, a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that eating chicken every day may increase your risk of cancer. "Poultry intake was positively associated with risk for malignant melanoma, prostate cancer, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma," study authors concluded. As always, talk to your doctor about what’s best for your unique body.
You may die sooner if you eat fried chicken every day
Let’s face it: Fried chicken is delicious. It’s little wonder, then, that we have tons of restaurants dedicated to perfecting the dish, as well as a festival celebrating its tasty existence. Fried chicken is also an integral staple of soul food, as enslaved Black women perfected the dish hundreds of years ago in the United States, as noted by Eater.
However, for as delectable and historically significant as fried chicken is in America, it’s probably something you don’t want to eat every day. The reason? According to a study in The BMJ, eating fried food like fried chicken every day can take years off of your life. Specifically, women who ate a serving or more of fried chicken every day were 13 percent more likely to die earlier than those who didn’t. They were also 12 percent more likely to die from heart disease. Those are some pretty disconcerting numbers, if you ask us. Maybe, instead, eat fried chicken once in a while instead of on the reg.
You may get bored of chicken if you eat it every day
If you eat chicken every day, it’s likely you’ll become bored of it. We know all too well the feeling of chicken breasts staring back at you from inside the fridge, when you just can’t think of a way to make them not boring. Even though we all grew leaps and bounds when it comes to our culinary prowess in 2020, there’s a good chance you still feel uninspired in the kitchen every now and again.
Fortunately for folks who cook and eat chicken every day, Verywell Fit drummed up some inspiration geared toward keeping your healthy chicken habits from getting stale. They recommend mastering several different cooking techniques, strategically using flavor enhancers like mustard and salsa, supplementing your chicken with healthy sides like whole grains and vegetables, and having a good list of recipes to choose from. Also, don’t forget that slow cooker sitting in the back of the cabinet! That can be a lifesaver.