While bulking it is important to get “clean” carbs and protein. Thankfully, there are certain meals that contain both.
Now everyone’s heard of the famous chicken and rice bodybuilder meal, however how good actually is it for gaining weight? Today we will be discussing not only its effectiveness in a bulking phase but also what variations or alternatives there are available.
This is in the hope that you will find a meal that suits your needs and can be incorporated into your diet because there must be a reason so many people eat this meal when bulking…Right?
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Is Chicken and Rice Good for Bulking
Chicken in rice is a good bulking meal as it’s high in both protein and carbs and also high in total calories, making it favorable for reaching a daily calorie surplus. Chicken and rice can also be combined with vegetables for a more nutritious meal but limit this meal to once per day at the most.
The reason that you should limit this meal is so that you can get other nutrients, minerals, and amino acid profiles (protein) from other types of food for a more balanced diet and better physique development.
What is Chicken and Rice?
Chicken and rice is a classic bodybuilding meal that has been integrated into people’s meal plans for years. It is popular within the fitness industry due to it being cheap, clean, and great for building muscle. This is due to its nutritional content which will be discussed later.
The reason why we say the meal is “clean” is that it’s low in sugars and saturated fats and the macronutrient profile is favorable. People consider food to be clean when the food is as far from processed as possible like fruit, vegetables, meat (debatable depending on the source), nuts, beans, legumes, and grains.
Further reading – Clean eating myths
This dish is eaten across the world and interpreted differently by many different cultures and countries. For example, in India, the main form of chicken and rice may be a curry with sticky rice however in Portugal they may incorporate peri seasonings and peppers in the rice (Nando’s style).
This helps as it means that this dish can be enjoyed in many different ways without getting bored of it. On top of that if you are a slightly fussy eater (like me), then there should be at least 1 form of chicken and rice that suits your preferences.
How Many Calories are in Chicken and Rice?
The answer to this varies greatly from dish to dish and is mainly dependent on the cooking method of the chicken. For example, any type of fried chicken thigh is generally going to be far higher in calories than a grilled chicken breast.
In this case, we are going to be looking at the standard dish, homemade chicken breast with white rice. Here are the calories per 100g.
As you can see, per 100g there are 171 calories. This is a relatively good amount of calories considering the cleanness and nutritional value of the dish.
In a normal portion, you would expect around 400-500g for total weight of the meal which can equal anywhere from 684-855 calories. That amount of calories can really help you work towards your daily calorie targets in a healthy and clean way.
When you take a look at the rest of the nutrition of chicken and rice, you can see why it’s so popular. According to the table above, per 100g there are about 22g of carbs and 30g of protein. This is perfect for bulking as the carbs replenish the muscles after a workout, while the proteins begin the muscle-building process.
This is why chicken and rice is such a staple meal for the bulking phase, it provides the macros that you need the most for weight gain and muscle growth.
Why Is Chicken and Rice Good for Bulking?
As covered earlier, yes, Chicken and rice is a great meal for muscle growth and a clean way of getting the right macronutrients and proteins in. But that isn’t to say that it couldn’t be better.
If you are someone who truly struggles to gain weight and has a poor appetite, then there are maybe a few things you might want to add.
For example, having rice and chicken in a tortilla, with cheese and mayonnaise will be a far higher calorie meal. This is due to the addition of fatty foods and is a great way to get more calories in while still consuming clean food.
Another great thing about chicken and rice is its cost and preparation.
Firstly, a chicken breast can cost roughly $1 (or $3 per 1lb) which isn’t too bad considering the quality of ingredients and protein you will be receiving.
However, if this is too expensive, then there are plenty of less convenient but cheaper options such as frozen chicken fillets, off-cuts, thighs, legs, etc.
On top of that, 1lbs of rice costs around $1 which is an astonishingly low price when you think about the number of portions you can get out of a 1lb pack.
Source – Statista
When looking at the preparation, it takes around 10 minutes to fry chicken in a pan, and around 10 minutes to cook rice. This means that half a week’s worth of meals can be prepared in a very small amount of time, and is suitable for people with busy schedules.
On top of this, rice and chicken can be eaten cold so is perfect on the go for people who are at work or college due to the ease of prep.
When looking at the cheap cost per meal ($1 – $2 depending on serving size and ideal for bulking on a budget), ease of prep, and overall decent macro and calorie quantities per meal, it’s a bit easier to see why this is considered to be a good bulking meal.
Related – How to bulk on a budget
Ways of eating Chicken and Rice
As mentioned earlier there are a wide variety of ways of eating rice and chicken across the world however all of them are accessible from your kitchen
If you are looking to bring more protein into your chicken and rice while giving it an Asian twist at the same time, then this meal is perfect. Sesame chicken with egg-fried rice is a great way to bring more calories and protein to your meal.
Adding egg to your rice and making a simple sesame sauce for your chicken will take minutes while taking your meal to the next level. This is perfect for any hard gainers or people that struggle to hit their protein goals.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you have quite a low metabolism and seem to put on weight with ease, then you may want to go down a different route when it comes to chicken and rice.
I would recommend brown rice instead of white rice due to the higher nutrition density and absence of artificially enriched nutrients. Then I would recommend oven-baked chicken simply due to it being a healthier method of cooking than frying in oil.
This will overall help bring down the calories of the meal while still enabling you to reap the nutritious benefits of chicken and rice.
Chicken and Rice Alternatives
For some people, chicken and rice is simply not a possibility when it comes to new additions to the meal plan.
It can be boring to consume and some people just don’t agree with the food choices in terms of digestion. For that reason, here are some alternatives that might interest you.
Firstly, there is a simple Beef stir fry. This is the perfect bulking dish as not only can it be cooked in 10 minutes, but offers extraordinary nutrition such as high-quality protein and even creatine. This can be eaten at home or on the go so can suit a wide variety of lifestyles.
If you cook the beef with vegetables you will receive the benefits of carrots and cabbage, all in all, making beef stir fry a great bulking meal.
For someone wanting a change, you can substitute both elements of chicken and rice for similar ingredients. I would swap the chicken for tuna and the rice for pasta (pasta is also a great carb source for bulking).
This is due to pasta’s richness of carbohydrates alongside the protein and calories in tuna and its oil. This makes tuna pasta to be a great second option for someone looking for a change.
To conclude, when looking at all the nutrients and possibilities for chicken and rice dishes, it is hard not to see why it is so popular within the bodybuilding community. It is easy to make, accessible, and is just what the body needs when it comes to muscle replenishment and growth.
If you are someone just starting in their bulking phase, then there is absolutely no reason why chicken and rice shouldn’t become a part of your diet to at least get started and used to making high protein, high carbohydrate meals in bulk.