Can Nuggets Possibly Be Part of a Healthy Diet? (Chick-fil-A Certainly Thinks So.)

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Chick-fil-A has some advice for those of us looking to live a healthier lifestyle: Eat more Chick-fil-A … a lot more of it.

The fast food chain is offering up healthy habits on the side of its takeout bags under the label “Great Ideas for Healthy Living.” One tip recommends kicking off the new year by adding one healthy habit to your routine. The habit? “Eat smaller meals (like an 8-count pack of grilled nuggets) every three to four hours.”

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Granted, an eight-pack of Chick-fil-A grilled nuggets is low in calories and high in protein (140 calories and 23 grams of protein), but is eating it every three to four hours a good idea?

If you take the bag literally, and actually eat the nuggets every three hours, the answer is a big nope, says certified dietitian-nutritionist Lisa Moskovitz, CEO of NY Nutrition Group. “The diet itself is completely unnecessary and unbalanced,” she tells Yahoo Health. While it’s low-calorie and high-protein, she points out that it’s missing many other vital nutrients such as vitamins, fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants.

Moskovitz says eating the nuggets may help some people lose weight initially since it’s a form of calorie reduction, and the extra-lean protein will help them feel full. 

Registered dietitian-nutritionist Karen Ansel, co-author of The Calendar Diet: A Month by Month Guide to Losing Weight While Living Your Life says that eating every three to four hours doesn’t necessarily help people lose weight. “In fact, there is some evidence that people who eat too often are more likely to gain weight, particularly those who eat 6 or more times a day,” she says.

But if you find that eating smaller, more frequent meals works for you and you want to add more protein, Ansel says you can have the nuggets as one of your meals — just not all of your meals. “Be sure to balance that out with other meals that are filled with lots of vegetables and whole grains, and watch the salt as each serving of these nuggets supplies more than 20 percent of the sodium most healthy people should eat in a day,” she says.

Moskovitz says the concept of adding lean protein to every meal is a good one, it just shouldn’t be the only thing you’re eating. That can include fish, eggs, white meat turkey, and low-fat dairy products or, if you’re a vegetarian, eggs, Greek yogurt, and tofu. “Adding that lean protein into every meal with help with satiety and fullness, and thus, will be easier to create the calorie deficit needed for weight loss,” says Moskovitz.

Chick-Fil-A, who probably didn’t expect all this fuss, now says you don’t necessarily need to take their takeout bag literally. “This diet came from some enthusiastic marketers who love our nuggets,” says Carrie Kurlander, a spokesperson for Chick-Fil-A. “This menu item, of course, is one of many choices that we hope customers will factor into their daily nutrition decisions.”

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