So…are chicken nuggets good for building muscle? That’s you question is it? Well, there is no such thing as a silly question here at TheMuscleExpert.com, and I want to help you out with your culinary conundrum!
I think it is important to mention at this point in time that not all nuggets are created equal! No two nuggets are the same in terms of nutritional value.
Yes, chicken nuggets can indeed fit into a bodybuilding diet, and can be good for building muscle. This is only if high quality lean chicken meat is used, and as few additives as possible added to the nugget.
A lot to ask of the humble nugget right?…
Manufacturers often add a lot of sneaky ‘ingredients’ into the nugget (especially in the bread coating) in order to make the product taste better.
So how do we navigate the nugget minefield?…
Here is what I propose we do, right here in this blog post. Let’s compare the nutritional value in terms of muscle building, of different types of chicken nuggets from 4 of Americas most popular fast food joints!
What I want to look at primarily with these chicken nuggets are balance of the macro nutrients and the ingredients of the product.
What I personally want to see in the optimal nugget is; a high protein content for muscle building, a low amount of carbohydrates in order to limit the amount of fat gain, and finally, I want to see as little artificial ‘ingredients’ and chemicals as possible.
So Let’s Get to It!…
The Fast Food Nugget Championships!…
In this article, I am going to compare the nutritional ‘qualities’ (if you can call it that) of McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s and Chick-Fil-A. These are probably four of the most popular fast food establishments in America today. So let’s see how these various nuggets stack up against each other in terms of muscle ‘buildability’! I think I just invented a word! Yey!…
McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets
First up, we have quite possibly the world’s most popular chicken nugget. The McDaddy of nuggets if you will. The McDonlad’s Chicken McNugget. Let’s take a look!
Nutritional Facts and Ingredients
Summary of McNuggets
The nutritional facts show that each nugget contains around 3 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of carbohydrates and about 2.3 grams of protein. Now take a look at the very top image and see what the amounts are for a 6 nugget portion.
Now here is me thinking that chicken nuggets are primarily made of chicken. Right? Therefore surely protein should be the highest macro nutrient in said nugget. Well not not in the case McNuggets!
What worries me here, is that in actual fact the protein is the lowest macro in the product! Now for the really worrying fact. The highest macro in these nuggets is in actual fact carbohydrates, AKA sugar. The very thing that causes fat gain!
Now let’s take a look at the ingredients list in more detail. What really worries me here is some of the artificial man made substances in this product.
Hydrogenated soy bean oil for example, is man made and consists partially of trans fatty acids. These trans fats are hard for the body to break down and digest. They can lead to an upset an stomach and inflammation which in turn can lead to heart disease and other serious health problems.
This list of ingredients that looks more like the start of a chemistry lesson plan, also mentions dextrose. In essence, dextrose is a man made sugar and it has the same effects on the body as standard sugar.
The Dextrose spikes insulin which causes fat gain, raises blood pressure and causes many other obesity related ailments if consumed excessively.
Needless to say, the McNugget doesn’t quite fit the bill. Now, no fast food chicken nugget is going to exactly be healthy, and of course you would be much better eating organic chicken breast.
However, I think that during this little nugget competition we will find one that would work in moderation and allow you to continue your muscle building efforts.
For me, the macro nutrient balance of the McNugget is way off when it comes to building muscle while not getting fat. The protein is too low and the carbs are too high. Also, the ingredients list that I have just talked about is very worrying!
So not only is the macro ratios way off for getting lean, but these nuggets are about as natural as a diet soda! Not very natural at all. I therefore can’t say that McNuggets are in anyway compatible with your muscle building program. Keep them for very special occasions on cheat day if you like them that much.
To be honest, I didn’t expect these chicken nuggets to amount to much in terms of Protein and carbohydrate ratios and ingredients used within the product. Let’s face it, these food items have to have a long shelf life in order for the restaurant to have time to sell the product without it going bad.
I am not giving up though!
Let’s See If fast food royalty can do any better!…
This is one of my personal favorites! Lets admit it, there fries and burgers out perform many other fast food joints every single time. I love nothing more on a cheat day than visiting my local BK for my fast food fix; but lets cut the chit chat.Back to business! Let’s look at the nutritional facts of these nuggets.
Burger King Chicken Nuggets Summary
So looking at the Burger King nuggets the macro nutritional ratios are; 16 grams total fat, 16 grams total carbohydrates and 12 grams total protein per 6 nuggets.
This works out at 2.6 grams of both fat and carbs per individual nugget and 2 grams of protein per nugget.What I do prefer with these nuggets in comparison to the McDonald’s ones is that it is lower in carbohydrates and fat which is always good.
The fact they are lower in carbohydrates is particularly beneficial.
Remember, carbohydrates stimulate the release of the fat storage hormone insulin and thus makes you gain weight.
The wrong kind of weight!
So I do like the slightly lower carb count here. Well done Burger King!
However, I am really surprised that once again the the protein amount in each nugget is actually lower than both the fat and carbohydrate count.
This is shocking!
Especially considering this is supposed to be primarily a meat based product.
We are looking at these products with the view of trying to continue our muscle building efforts whilst being a little naughty and having a treat.
In fact, our first competitor the McNuggets have a higher protein count, but at the expense of a higher fat and carbohydrate count as well. Therefore I still think that BK wins here.
Also, if you take a look at the ingredients list of these Burger King chicken nuggets, you will see that there is no hydrogenated soy bean oil which is a little bonus as well.
Now don’t get me wrong, these nuggets are still far from being all natural, and there is still dextrose in them just like the McDonald’s McNuggets.
So far, in terms of being least likely to kill you, I would go with the burger king nuggets. If you are watching your health and trying to build muscle and burn fat while having a little treat, then so far these nuggets win, despite being lower in protein than the McDonald’s ones.
But Wait! We are not finished yet!…
There are two more brands of nuggets to look at. It’s time for an old favorite!…
Wendy’s Chicken Nuggets
Wendy’s Chicken Nuggets Summary
Oh Wendy! You had my hopes up there!…
When looking at the macro nutritional values of Wendy’s nuggets, I thought I was onto I winner in all honesty.
Per nugget we have, 2.6 grams of fat, 2.3 grams of carbohydrates and 2.1 grams of protein.
Now, again the protein is the lowest macro here, which is not really what we want as muscle seekers.
However, what I did get excited about was that the carb amount per nugget is lower than both McDonald’s AND Burger King. That was exciting because quite often, I tend to count my carbohydrate amounts more than protein amounts because I like to try to keep my fat gain minimized as I build muscle.
So I am sat here thinking that I may have found the best of a bad bunch. The lesser of 4 evils if you will!
But Then I Looked at the Ingredients List!…
Oh how reminiscent of McDonald’s!
If you take a closer look a the list you will see the usual suspects such as the artificial sugar dextrose and dimethylpolysiloxane which is an anti-foaming agent.
Nether of these are good for your body. Even more worrying is that we see the hydrogenated soy bean oil that we saw earlier in the McNuggets. This man made oil as mentioned earlier damages your insides and causes inflammation which can lead to heart problems among many other things if you consume to much of it.
At the end of the day, I would rather take the ever so slightly higher carb count and lower protein count of the Burger King nuggets that eat Wendy’s nuggets.
That way I know that I am at least eating a teeny weeny bit cleaner, which I personally think is more important than just obsessing over the protein count.
Chick-Fil-A Chicken Nuggets
Our final contender for our “nugget off” is Chick-Fil-A. Let’s find out if our final competitor can outshine the previous three.’Chick’ is almost the word ‘chicken’, so I have high hopes of there being some actual form of bird in these nuggets. We may even be treated to a higher protein content than carb content.Let’s find out!…
I think we have our winner! I started the Chick-Fil-A section with some sarcastic humor but ironically, it turns out that this product far outweighs the other three contenders in terms of macro nutritional ratios and ingredients used in the nuggets.
I am sorry I doubted you Chick-Fil-A!
Let’s take a closer look…
A portion of 6 Chick-Fil-A chicken nuggets contains; 20 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat and 8 grams of carbs. For each nugget that works out at; around 3.3 grams of protein, 1.5 grams of fat and 1.3 grams of carbohydrates.
These macro ratios by far the best out of the 4 we have looked at here. Notice how protein is by far the largest macro nutrient in these nuggets. Likewise, the carb count is by far the lowest which is exactly what we want. Minimal insulin spike and maximum muscle gain.
The fact that these ratios are what I would expect to see in a genuine chicken nugget suggests to me that they are probably made of more natural ingredients or at least there will be more actual chicken in the product.
After taking a look at the ingredients list I noticed that there is no hydrodgenated soy bean oil or dextrose in the nuggets which is good news. However, there is dimethylpolysiloxane and sugar in there which isn’t so good. As far as highly processed, fast food nuggets go, I am impressed and they are by far the best of the bunch we have discussed here.
In these kind of fast food products, there are always going to be a higher amount of additives in them. This is for two main reasons;
- To improve the flavor of the food in order to make you want to come back for more. In essence; to add an addictive quality to the food.
- To lengthen the shelf life of the product.
So Which Nugget Is the Best For Muscles?
Out of our 4 competitors, Chick-Fil-A wins by a country and a mile when it comes to trying to stay healthy, build muscle and burn fat while indulging in the odd chicken based treat.
This is the order I would place the 4 establishments in, the best at the top an the worst at the bottom.
- Burger King
So Are Chicken Nuggets Good for Building Muscle? – Our Final Thoughts…
Now, I have approached the subject of this blog post with a bit of comedic flare; or at least I hope I have. None the less, in all seriousness, chicken nuggets from fast food restaurants, indeed any food from fast food establishments should only be consumed as a treat once in a while.
If you are trying to be healthy, keep your fat levels low and build or maintain muscle mass and you must eat a chicken nugget of questionable quality in a fast food joint, then Chick-Fil-A is by far the best option, as we have seen from out findings in this article.
There are far healthier ways to get your muscle building nutrients in. You should always aim to eat as clean as you can. Consume natural whole foods and use a quality supplement where necessary.
If you would like to learn more about which muscle building supplements currently on the market are best, the go HERE to read our in depth review of 4 top quality supplements designed for muscle mass and strength gains.
The Best Solution to Get Your Nugget Fix While Building Muscle…
Make your own!
This option will take a bit more effort, and the nuggets may not have the same addictive chemicals in them but they will be a lot healthier for you. No additives and correct macro nutrient rations optimal for your muscle building diet plan.
I found a fantastic recipe on YouTube for low carbohydrate, gluten free chicken nuggets. These nuggets are high in protein and very low in carbohydrates. Perfect for your health and fitness goals.