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Chicken is not just the staple of every bodybuilding, powerlifting, or any athlete nutrition plan out there, it comprises of over 80% of any of these diets when it comes to protein sources. There is no surprise there, its lean, its cheap, and is always readily available at any shop you go to, as well as being so easy to cook.
However, it’s very neutral flavour profile can lend itself to so many recipes, but it also becomes super bland very fast. There are a few other birds that you should give a try at some point, to mix something new and exciting to your diet.
The closest alternative to chicken, in terms of taste, would be pheasant. It is a lean meat that combines both white and dark meat and is basically just chicken with a richer flavour profile. Obviously, this doesn’t lend itself to being a common or staple meal every day, but it is a great alternative to shake things up.
We will also be sticking to the breast portion of pheasant. An 85g serving has a nutritional profile similar to chicken as well, 110 calories, 20g of protein, and 3g of fat.
Quail is quite a small bird, usually only weighing 110g roughly so you will need to round two birds for a single portion. Quails are often seen as a ‘finer’ protein source, but that’s merely down to its small size and potent flavour. Speaking of size, because they are so small, they can easily be prepared in a number of different ways; roasted, fried, grilled, or sautéed. In an 85g serving, quail delivers 145 calories, 23g of protein, and 4g of fat.
Now before the uproars of how fatty duck is, the meat is not the fatty part, the skin is. When you remove the skin, the nutritional profile of duck is very similar to chicken. Duck is a dark meat so it will be an intense and richer flavour, but won’t be overpowering. Learning how to prepare a well-cooked duck will be the most important factor here, in order to ensure that it doesn’t taste oily. An 85g serving gives you 102 calories, 16g of protein, and 4g of fat.
Ostrich is quite the South African protein source. Ostrich is a dark meat that boasts quite a robust flavour that makes a great change up from chicken and is also extremely lean. One of the best parts of ostrich is that it typically comes packed as mince, so cooking it is as easy as popping it into a frying pan with some coconut oil. It also comes packed as burger patties or steak, which is great for convenience. Each 85g serving provides 123 calories, 24g of protein, and 2g of fat.
We left the wild card for last. Goose is a much fattier cut of meat when compared to chicken, but there is some reasoning behind this. The fat in the meat is not the ‘bad’ kind of fat so it will be beneficial for those who are looking for to put on some muscular bodyweight. This is because there is some evidence to suggest that the naturally occurring fat in protein-rich foods can aid in better amino acid utilisation. So yes, this is not an ideal protein source for those looking to get really lean, but for a bulk, it can work wonders.
Furthermore, a well-cooked goose could taste more like beef than dark meat bird, and while it may be a little too much for some, it is something that you should at least try it out. Each 85g serving provides 201 calories, 24g of protein, and 12g of fat.
Ostrich is fairly easy to get; most supermarket chains carry ostrich at fairly reasonable prices. For the others, you might need to source for yourself. If your local butcher doesn’t stock any of these, ask them to speciality order it for you, or they should at least be able to point in the right direction. Also, look at visiting your local farmers market to see if they can give you what you need, or worst case scenario, check online. For health safety reasons, it might be best to stick to farm raised birds over wild, purely for health reasons. On the other hand, if you know what you are doing, then go wild.
Don’t forget that seasoning can also make the world of difference. Flavouring from spices could bring out certain flavour notes while dulling others, thus enhancing natural flavour profiles of the different meats.
These may not be for everyone. Some are not so different to chicken, while others are quite different. It’s important to experiment though, try new things, and keep things fresh. Otherwise, you won’t enjoy your food, and that could extend to many other areas of your life. That might not sound true, but think how much time you spend eating, or preparing food. Food is a central factor for humans so a bland diet could lead to a bland day. Try these out and put some flight back into your diet.