Where's the Chicken? I was shocked to learn that grilled chicken in a fast-food environment isn't a healthy food; it's a healthy imposter! At least 14% of the meat isn't chicken. And that's not the only reason why I won't eat it…
Five reasons I won't eat fast-food chicken: Fat, Fakes, Fillers, Appetite Accelerants & Added Sugar!
#1 Fat in fast food is synonymous with "unhealthy" because most of it is fried. And fried chicken is coated with starchy-carbohydrate flour, breading and then fried at a high temperature in an unhealthy oil.
Fried chicken seems to be juicer, but don't be fooled. That's the extra fat caused by the cooking process. Special pressurized friers are used to increase both the cooking temperature and pressure, which forces more oil into the meat.
Grilled & Crispy versions still contain high amounts of fat because the chicken skin and excess fats are blended-in, so the fat content is higher than you think. Crispy isn't healthier; it's the modern version of fried, breaded chicken. Crispy is intended to avoid the negative connotation of deep-fat fried. But don't be fooled; the breaded coating uses the same unhealthy ingredients to infuse the batter.
#2 Fake Chicken Breast is unbelievably common. The menu may say "breast of chicken," the image above and below both for the same grilled chicken breast item from Chick-Fil-A. But no 100% natural chicken breasts are sold at any of the dozen or more fast-food restaurants I researched; see the bottom of this page for examples. The menu says, "Chicken Breast," yet the list of ingredients reveals that only 86% or less is chicken breast meat, and the rest is fillers.
#3 Fillers are used in almost all boneless fast-food chicken. Because, just like hamburger patties, the meat needs to be uniform in shape, size, and weight. The best way to accomplish this consistency is to grind the chicken meat and skin and then shape it into uniform patties.
Watch how Chicken Nuggets are made; they combine ground chicken filled with chicken skin, starches, sugars, and other flavor agents like autolyzed yeast, which always contains monosodium glutamate.
Various starches, gums, and other fillers are added to the meat mix to not only expand the product but also to help shape the product. Gums, starches, and fillers hold it together and allow the product to be molded and shaped into a consistent size and weight.
#4 Appetite Accelerates that include forms of yeast, monosodium glutamate, sugars, and sweeteners are found both inside and out. They're found in the fillers and the coating to enhance flavor.
To learn more about how these substances are also known to drive appetite and overconsumption and listen to the "Why You Can't Stop Eating" episode of my podcast.
#5 Added Sugar isn't always as obvious since Sugar is smuggled into food by using a variety of alias names and chemical concoctions. Fast-food chicken is infused with sugars, like dextrose, which comes from corn or wheat and is almost identical to glucose.
I used to eat grilled chicken breast salad at fast-food, thinking it was healthier. It's not. McDonald's announced they no longer offer a salad of any kind. In 2020 most fast-food companies narrowed their menu options and eliminated salad and fresh options, which is okay because the salads at fast food aren't any healthier. They're made with the same "fake, sugar-filled chicken" and topped with high-fat, sugary dressings.
Grab a Burger!
I recommend eating a real hamburger made from natural beef instead! These are the two fast-food chains, local to me, where I know I can get "real hamburger meat" with no fillers, no preservatives, or stimulating substances.
Ironically, neither of these restaurants offers chicken of any kind. Maybe because chicken is a real bird that can't naturally exist as fast food?
Go to the company's website, look at the menu, and in the nutrition section, look for "ingredients" or more common "allergen information" this is where you'll find what's inside; samples are below...
Wendy's Grilled Chicken Fillet Chicken Breast Fillet (86%), Water, Salt, Potato Starch, Yeast Extract, Natural Flavours, Spices, Sugar, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Thickeners (Carrageenan, Xanthan Gum), Rice Starch, Paprika, Acidity Regulator (Sodium Carbonate).
McDonald's Crispy Chicken Fillet: Chicken Breast Fillets With Rib Meat, Water, Wheat Flour, Vegetable Oil (canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil), Sugar, Salt, Modified Food Starch, Leavening (baking Soda, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate), Yellow Corn Flour, Modified Corn Starch, Sodium Phosphate, Spices, Wheat Gluten, Yeast Extract, Monosodium Glutamate, Extractives Of Paprika (color), Natural Flavors, Gum Arabic, Maltodextrin.
Taco Bell Grilled Chicken: White meat chicken with rib meat, water, seasoning (modified potato starch, salt, yeast extract, spices, Sugar, citric acid, disodium inosinate and guanylate, torula yeast, maltodextrin, dextrose, natural flavors, and 2% or less of soybean oil added as a processing aid), sodium phosphates
KFC Chicken Breast Fried "Original Recipe" Fresh Chicken Marinated With: Salt, Sodium Phosphate and Monosodium Glutamate. Breaded With: Wheat Flour, Salt, Tricalcium Phosphate, Nonfat Milk, Whey, Potato Starch, Egg Whites, Maltodextrin, Triglycerides, Food Starch- Modified, Natural Flavor, Colonel's Secret Original Recipe Seasoning.
KFC Chicken Breast Fresh Chicken Marinated With: Salt, Sodium Phosphate and Monosodium Glutamate. Seasoned With: Maltodextrin, Salt, Bleached Wheat Flour, Monosodium Glutamate, Coconut Oil, Spices, Natural Flavor, Canola Oil, Garlic Powder, Soy Sauce (Soybean, Wheat, Salt), Chicken Fat, Chicken Broth, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Extractives Of Turmeric, Dehydrated Carrot, Onion Powder, And Not More Than 2% Each Of Calcium Silicate Ans Silicon Dioxide Added As AntiCaking Agent.
I enjoy fast food as an exceptional meal on occasion. When I do, I go where I can get real food made with no fillers or fakes. I order a single cheeseburger (beef) wrapped in lettuce, no bun, everything on it. Split fries dipped in ketchup with my hubby and order water or sugar-free, unsweetened iced tea because life is all about enjoying delicious food too! Cheers!