When we think “energy,” we tend to think “carbs.” And for good reason: They’re the body’s go-to fuel source. So it may seem odd to recommend chicken—which is 80 percent protein, 20 percent fat and 0 percent carbs—as a good choice when you’re looking for an energy boost in your diet. But relying on carbs alone can actually leave you feeling less energetic.
It’s important to balance carb consumption with protein and fat, each of which play a role in keeping you revved (protein enables muscle building and repair; fat provides a more-sustained energy source). One serving of chicken (just 3 ounces) contains the following energy-aiding micronutrients.
These are essential for converting carbs into energy, and chicken is rich in them. For example, a serving delivers roughly a third of your daily B6 requirements.
Although it doesn’t directly provide energy, potassium contains components the body needs to make energy. Plus it supports heart and muscular function. One serving of chicken provides about 7 percent of your daily needs.
If you often feel weak, you may be low in iron, which helps the body make oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Beef and lamb are better sources of iron, but chicken is a good alternative if you don’t eat red meat. You’ll get about 8 percent of your daily requirements per serving.
Studies show that most Americans don’t get adequate magnesium, a key component in energy production. Nuts, fish and bran are good sources, but it’s hard to get enough, so every bit helps. One serving of chicken offers 6–9 percent of the daily recommended intake.