Best High Protein Fast Food Meals for Building Muscle

Gray Car on a Drive Thru

Looking for quick protein at your favorite fast food restaurants?

We’ll take a look at some of the most popular fast-food chains to help you pick their highest protein items.

From Chick-fil-A to Panera bread, these are the best high protein fast food meals you can grab at your favorite spots.


Chick-fil-A is a great protein fast food spot. With most of the menu items having chicken, you won’t have much trouble finding something you like to hit your daily protein intake. Depending on your goals, there are options for almost anyone.

Chick fil a team

Best Pick: Grilled Chicken Nuggets

By far the leanest protein item on the menu is the grilled chicken nuggets. These have no breading with almost no carbs (1g) and low fat (3g) for the 8-count entree. The 8 count comes with 25g of protein and only 130 calories making this a great option for getting in some protein.

  • 25g of protein

  • 130 calories

  • No breading

Highest Protein Item: Chik-fil-A Cool Wrap

This item is a great refreshing food with 43g of protein. While this is the highest protein item on the menu, it also has the highest calories (660cal) compared to any other normal entree that isn’t a salad. Even with the high calories, it is one of the cleaner options assuming you skip out on the sauces and dressings.

  • Well balanced meal

  • 43g of protein

  • 600 calories

Panda Express

Panda Express has a wide variety of options for a wide variety of diets. Whether it’s keto, high-calorie, or weight loss, there’s a little bit of everything.

Best Pick: Grilled Chicken Teriyaki

Of all the entrees Panda Express has to offer, the grilled chicken teriyaki is your best for lean protein. Unlike a lot of the breaded items like orange chicken or bejing beef, the grilled chicken teriyaki has no breading, making it low-carb and lower in calories.

As far as picking a side, it depends on your fitness goals.

Weight Loss: Super Greens

The super greens are the lowest calorie side item that can help with your weight loss journey.

Bulking: Chow Mein

The chow mein is high in calories (500+ per serving) and has the highest amount of protein compared to the other sides.


Chipotle is a fan favorite for gym-goers. With so many combinations of fresh food, it’s no surprise it’s on this list. Here are some of the best ways to get your protein in at Chipotle.

Protein Choice: Double Chicken

In most cases, chicken will almost always be your best for high protein. For a single serving of chicken, you can expect 32g of protein and 180 calories. So to maximize your protein, you’ll want to get a double scoop of chicken. This will give you 360 calories and 64g of protein.

Runner-Up Protein Choice: Double Steak

Some people would choose steak over chicken. And although the protein might not be as high, it’s still not a bad choice. A double portion of steak at Chipotle gives you 42g of protein with only 300 calories. This can be helpful for someone looking to lower their calories while still getting in a great amount of protein.

How to build a meal for your goals:

Depending on your fitness goals, your choice of sides and meals will vary (obviously). Here are a few ways to help build a bowl to fit your goals.

Weight Loss

If you’re looking to lose weight, chances are you’re trying to keep your calories lower. Your best bet would be to skip the burrito and pick either the lifestyle bowl or the burrito bowl (with no tortillas on the side).

Depending on how much you’ve eaten for the day already, it can be helpful to skip the rice to save yourself 200+ extra calories.

For the beans, you’re only looking to get 130 calories for each serving so it’s up to you if you want to pass on them or not.

From the last few items the guac (230 cal), sour cream (110 cal), cheese (110 cal), and queso (120 cal) are the highest in calories. So pick and choose what works for you while still fitting your macros.

Bulking/Weight Gain

When bulking, you’re pretty much going to do the opposite of what a weight loss person would do.

The burrito or the burrito bowl with a side of the tortilla is your best friend. The burrito-sized tortilla has 320 calories by itself so hitting your calorie count would be simple at Chipotle.

Grab double chicken or double steak depending on preference and don’t forget the rice.

Before you even pick the beans, you’re already at over 800 calories.

Pick whatever beans you want if you want them and pick whatever other items you want. I suggest guac if you like it and if you don’t mind paying the extra money since a serving has another 200+ calories.

Assuming you do double protein with a tortilla, rice, beans, and guac, you’ll have over 1000+ calories before adding anything else you want for flavor.


Most people can’t survive without their morning Starbucks. While you’re there, here are a few items you pair with your daily caffeine to boost your protein count.

Starbucks Signboard

Best Pick: Turkey Bacon, Cheddar, & Egg White Sandwich

Of all the items Starbucks has to offer, the sandwich is a great snack for protein. With only 210 calories and 18g of protein, it has the best protein-to-calorie ratio of all of its food items. If you’re looking for a low-carb or KETO-friendly option, I wouldn’t suggest getting this since it has 28g of carbs. Overall not a bad breakfast item since they substitute regular bacon for turkey bacon and whole eggs with egg whites.

  • 210 calories

  • 18g of protein

  • Well balanced breakfast

Highest Protein Item: Bacon Sausage Egg Wrap

This wrap has the highest amount of protein (27g) out of all the Starbucks food options, but it also has the highest calories (650 cal). So depending on your fitness goals, it can be good if you can spare the calories.

  • 27g of protein

  • 650 calories


Panera Bread is a great spot for carbs and protein. If you’re bulking, this is one of the best spots to go to for high-calorie meals with a good amount of protein.

Best Pick: Teriyaki Chicken & Broccoli Bowl

The teriyaki chicken and broccoli bowl is the best overall pick for high protein at Panera. It’s a clean meal with protein from unbreaded chicken, quinoa for carbs, and broccoli for some greens. All in all, a good amount of protein while staying under 700 calories.

  • 610 calories

  • 46g of protein

  • Well-Balanced Meal

Highest Protein Item: Chicken Cordon Bleu Melt on Baguette

Most Panera sandwiches have a good amount of protein, but out of all of them, the Chicken cordon bleu melt on a baguette has the most (73g). While it has a ton of protein, it does come with a high amount of calories (1040 cal), so if you’re looking to lose weight, then stay clear.

  • 73g of protein

  • High Calories (1040)

  • NOT for Weight Loss

Low-Calorie High Protein Item: Asian Sesame with Chicken Salad

For my weight loss people, the Asian sesame with chicken salad is a great option. It only has 410 calories but still gives you 29g of protein. This is for the “whole” portion, but they do have half portions as well. To keep the calories lower, I would avoid the Greek dressing, Caesar dressing, white balsamic vinaigrette flavored with Apple, and mayonnaise. Try picking a dressing like the green goddess (80cal), Asian sesame vinaigrette, or only using a half portion of the dressing.

  • 29g of protein

  • Low Calories (410)

Taco bell

The go-to Mexican fast-food spot is Taco Bell. As much as I love Mexican pizzas, there are better options to get some good protein in. Here are the best picks you can get at Taco Bell for some high protein.

Best Pick: Power Menu Bowl – Chicken

Taco Bell has stepped up its game with the power menu bowls. Similar to a Chipotle burrito bowl, this bowl comes with your choice of protein, rice, and fresh toppings. With only 460 calories and 26g of protein with chicken as your protein choice, this is one of the cleaner options you can grab at Taco Bell. You can also grab steak with similar macros if you would like. (470 cal and 25g of protein)

  • 460 calories

  • 26g of protein

  • Well-balanced meal

Highest Protein Item: Grilled Cheese Burrito – Chicken

This pick is a great choice for those bulking. Of all Taco Bell’s menu items, this has the highest amount of protein (29g). It does come with 690 calories, so if you’re looking to lose weight, you’d be better off choosing something else.

  • 690 calories

  • 29g of protein


Mcdonalds Fries on White Table

You can’t talk about fast food without mentioning McDonald’s. What used to just be burgers and fries has turned into a wide variety of menu options. To help you save some time, here are the highest protein options along with the best all-around pick to choose from.

Best Pick: McCrispy

Our top pick for the best high-protein items at McDonald’s is the McCrispy. With 26g of protein and 470 calories, it’s not a bad grab for some protein. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the McChicken just as much as the next guy, but this sandwich comes with more than 10 extra grams of protein to help you hit those goals.

  • 470 calories

  • 26g of protein

Highest Protein Item: Deluxe McCrispy

The deluxe version of the McCrispy has only 1 more gram of protein than the normal version. Is it worth the extra 1g? Maybe. It does come with veggies like lettuce and tomato but do keep in mind there are 6 extra grams of fat and 60 extra calories compared to the plan version.

  • 530 calories

  • 27g of protein


Many of Wendy’s items are high in calories, but if it’s all you have to work with, then here are some of the higher protein options you can grab.

Best Pick: Grilled Chicken Ranch Wrap

With only 420 calories and 27g of protein, the grilled chicken ranch wrap is one of the better options for protein at Wendy’s. If you’re looking to lower the calories, you can ask to keep the ranch off.

  • 420 calories

  • 27g of protein

Highest Protein Item: Asiago Ranch Classic Chicken Club

While it does have more protein than the grilled chicken ranch wrap, it does come with 200 more calories. So if weight loss is your goal, then it might be best to look for a different option. It does however come with 9 extra grams of protein compared to the wrap so it doesn’t hurt if you have the calories to spare.

  • 620 calories

  • 36g of protein

Final Thoughts

While fast food restaurants are typically not a healthier option, they do come with convenience. If you find yourself stuck with one of these options to get protein in, then hopefully this article helps you make a better decision.

Like any weight loss journey, eating at a caloric deficit is the deciding factor as to whether or not you actually lose weight. Same with gaining weight. Be sure to work with how many calories you have and do your best to increase your protein to help you build lean muscle and lose fat.


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