Fitness

Should I Add Chicken to My Diet?

I’m going to bring up a touchy subject here – whether or not to start eating chicken again. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about the for the past few months, and I’m still holding back on doing it. I feel like there’s a stigma out there if you stop being a vegetarian, like you gave on up it or you weren’t strong enough to stick with it. I was a vegetarian for almost 10 years, but as I’m continuing grow as a person I’m realizing that I can change my mind. I have to do what makes me happy and feel like I’m the best person I can be. But that doesn’t mean I feel totally comfortable adding meat back into my diet.

I stopped eating meat when I was 16 years old, continuing to eat fish until I went full vegetarian when I was 17 years old. At the time, meat wasn’t appealing to me and I was going to a lot of concerts where vegetarian and vegan lifestyles were being promoted. I ended up cutting out meat, but keeping fish in my diet because I genuinely enjoyed it. When I went back to eat fish about a year ago, it was because I wanted to eat it again – it was something I missed. I’m 26 years old now and for years when people would ask me why I had stayed vegetarian so long, I simply told them because I didn’t want to eat meat. There wasn’t really anything keeping me from eating meat other than my own free will. Most vegetarians and vegans have a conviction or strong reason why they are animal-free – animal rights, environmental, health, but that just wasn’t the case with me. I always told people that if I wanted to eat meat, I would. There was nothing stopping me other than myself.

Now I’m actually at the point where I’m thinking of eating meat again – honestly only chicken breasts – and I’m scared. The main reason I’m considering adding chicken into my diet again is because of my fitness goals. About six months ago, I started looking into flexible dieting or if it fit your macros. I’ve gone into flexible dieting in the past and it’s quickly become my nutrition plan. I really enjoy that I get to eat carbs – any carbs I want – as long as it fits my macros for the day. That being said, trying to work in 100 to 110 grams of protein a day as a vegetarian without going over my carbs, was going to be nearly in possible. A lot of vegetarian protein sources also yield a good number of carb macros, and for my daily macros that’s not really an option for me. I quickly made the decision to start eating fish again, and at first that was fine. It’s been almost six months since I started following flexible dieting and fish, egg whites, and protein powder are becoming pretty boring. I’m not interested in sticking to my current protein sources, which is leading me to stray from my set diet – I really don’t want that.

I wouldn’t be so upset about straying from my diet if I didn’t think it was having an positive impact on my overall fitness and strength. Since February when I began flexible dieting, I’ve noticed a lot of changes in my body composition, lifts, strength, and overall well-being. My three main lifts have all increased, most notably my dead lift and squat – even when I was on cut. When I was on cut and being strict, I noticed my body fat slowly go down and I my muscles looked more defined. Also, my body function feels overall better – I’m fuller for longer periods of time and my digestion seems to be better. I’m also happier with my food choices. I don’t feel bad having some ice cream because I can make it fit my macros I’m allotted for the day.

I’m a little lost at what to do next. Jake says it’s fine – you can always change your mind. My friends say that they could never go without meat and they don’t know how I do it. I feel that my fitness goals are the most important to me, and to achieve those adding chicken back into my diet is something I’m willing to try. Baby steps though of course. You  can’t just start eating meat after having it out of your diet for nearly 10 years – your body would not be happy. I haven’t made my decision quite yet on this topic, but I’m hoping that the decision will come to me naturally.

Thanks for reading!

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