High Protein Fast Food

Introduction

Fast food might not seem like the healthiest option if you're trying to eat a high-protein diet. However, you might be shocked to learn that there are some great options available to you when eating fast food. 

Fast food restaurants, like those listed below, can provide high-quality protein which is necessary for building muscle and reducing hunger. If you want to lose weight, eating more protein is the best way to accomplish it because muscle burns more calories (even while at rest) than fat does. Therefore, if you are striving towards weight loss, it's recommended that you eat more protein.

Is high-protein fast food possible?

It may come as a surprise, but fast-food restaurants do provide various meals that are high in protein. Chicken contains the highest protein per serving of any other food available, but while there are many fast-food places that serve chicken, some are better than others.

You should avoid eating any chicken that has been breaded and fried if it contains gluten. Gluten is pro-inflammatory, so eating meals with gluten can cause the release of zonulin, a chemical that signals the tight injunctions of your intestinal wall, causing intestinal permeability.

Top high protein fast food ideas

  • The McDonald's double cheeseburger, which consists of two beef patties, American cheese, pickles, mustard, onions and ketchup is relatively low in calories and carbs given the quantity of protein it contains. For every McDonald’s Mcdouble serving there are 440 calories, 22g of fat, 2g of fibre, 34g of carbs, 25g of protein, and 7g of sugar.1
  • McDonald’s also serves the McChicken Sandwich which has 400 calories, 39g of carbs, 21g of fat, 1g of fibre, and 14g of protein. If you hold the mayonnaise, it will take off 11 grams of fat and 100 calories.
  • Burger King has the Whopper Burger which has a remarkable nutritional profile for its size. If you cut out the mayo the nutritional value of the burger will be 633.9 calories, 34.9g of fat, 47.4g of carbs, and 30.9g of protein.3
  • Wendy’s Apple Pecan Salad is a combination of dried cranberries, toasted pecans, apples and blue cheese. Every serving contains 440 calories, 30g of carbs, 22g of fat, 21g of sugar, and 33g of protein. If you reduce the amount of dressing, you will keep the amount of sugar to a minimum.5 
  • The Subway Carved Turkey Sandwich is also a good high-protein option. For every serving of the sandwich, there are 330 calories, 45g of carbs, 5g of fat, and 25g of protein. This sandwich will keep you filled up and help you reach your protein goals.7
  • Chipotle Steak Salad with Lettuce, Fajita Vegetables, and Roasted Chili-corn Salsa has 315 calories, 8.5g of fat, 26 g of carbs, and 36g of protein. The fajita veggies give this salad a tasty kick without adding much to the total number of calories, and steak has one of the highest protein levels of any meat.8
  • KFC Kentucky Grilled Chicken Breast with Green Beans. The KFC Grilled chicken breast with green beans is a good option and is a great source of protein with little fat and grease. Each serving contains 585 calories, 25g of fat, 4g of carbs, and 83g of protein.10
  • Shake Shack Chicken Dog. In general, hot dogs are not thought of as a healthy meal option; however, Shake Shack offers a chicken dog alternative that is lower in fat but still has a large amount of protein. Per serving there are 310 calories, 27g of carbs, 13g of fat, and 24g of protein.11  
  • Taco Bell Chicken Fresco Burrito Supreme. A Chicken Fresco Burrito Supreme with no sauce contains 340 calories, 48g of carbs, 8g of fat, and 18g of protein. You can fill up on this burrito without consuming too many calories while enjoying a great source of protein.12

Nutrition tips for fast food orders

Most fast-food restaurants have online menus, making it simple to find what you're looking for. However, if you don't have time to plan, keep in mind the following tips when ordering at fast-food restaurants.13 

  • Avoid buns, as they contain high levels of gluten. The majority of fast-food restaurants will gladly provide your meal without the bun. 
  • Keep an eye out for hidden sources of gluten and dairy. You should try and avoid them where possible.
  • Avoid eating anything that has been fried because these types of foods are typically high in fat.
  • Avoid sauces because the majority of them do not specify the ingredients, making it impossible to know what is in them, including gluten. They usually contain a lot of sugar, fat, and calories, and don't offer much in the way of nutritional benefits. 

With these helpful hints, you'll be able to get the most out of the high-protein meal you ordered at the fast-food restaurant. 

Micro food and high-protein websites

The following websites will help guide you in determining which foods have high levels of protein.

Conclusion

Getting enough protein every day is essential for health. People’s protein needs vary, but nutritionists suggest that people who engage in strenuous activity should consume 0.54 to 0.9 grams of protein per pound of their body weight on a daily basis (or 1.2  to 2 grams per kilogram).14 There are a lot of different restaurant choices available that offer foods that are high in protein. Eating fast food doesn't have to mean you'll get off track with your diet!

References

  1. McDonalds. McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger Nutrition Facts [Internet]. FastFoodNutrition.org. Available from: https://fastfoodnutrition.org/mcdonalds/double-cheeseburger
  2. McDonalds. McDonald’s McChicken Nutrition Facts [Internet]. FastFoodNutrition.org. [cited 2022 Aug 25]. Available from: https://fastfoodnutrition.org/mcdonalds/mcchicken
  3. Burger King. Burger King: Online Offers and Ordering [Internet]. www.bk.com. [cited 2022 Aug 25]. Available from: https://www.burgerking.co.uk/nutrition-explorer
  4. Carl Jr. Calories in Carl’s Jr. Low Carb Chicken Club and Nutrition Facts [Internet]. www.fatsecret.com. [cited 2022 Aug 25]. Available from: https://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition/carls-jr/low-carb-chicken-club
  5. Wendy's. Apple Pecan Chicken Salad – Wendy’s Cayman [Internet]. Wendy’s. [cited 2022 Aug 26]. Available from: https://wendys.ky/product/apple-pecan-chicken-salad/
  6. Chick-fil-A. market-salad [Internet]. Chick-fil-A. [cited 2022 Aug 26]. Available from: https://www.chick-fil-a.com/catering/market-salad
  7. Subway. Subway 6" Carved Turkey Nutrition Facts [Internet]. FastFoodNutrition.org. 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 29]. Available from: https://fastfoodnutrition.org/subway/carved-turkey/6
  8. myfitnesspal. Free Calorie Counter, Diet & Exercise Journal | MyFitnessPal.com [Internet]. www.myfitnesspal.com. 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 24]. Available from: https://www.myfitnesspal.cn/food/calories/lettuce-steak-fajita-vegetables-roasted-chili-corn-salsa-and-tomatillo-green-chili-salsa-42400796
  9. CalorieKing. Calories in Panera Bread Steak & Arugula Sandwich on Sourdough | CalorieKing [Internet]. www.calorieking.com. 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 29]. Available from: https://www.calorieking.com/us/en/foods/f/calories-in-sandwiches-burgers-steak-arugula-sandwich-on-sourdough/
  10. Fatsecret. KFC Half Grilled Chicken w/Green Beans Ingredients, Calories and Nutritional Information [Internet]. www.fatsecret.co.uk. 2014 [cited 2022 Aug 26]. Available from: https://www.fatsecret.co.uk/Diary.aspx?pa=mealv&mid=2665067
  11. Fast Food Nutrition. Shake Shack Chicken Dog Nutrition Facts [Internet]. FastFoodNutrition.org. 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 26]. Available from: https://fastfoodnutrition.org/shake-shack/chicken-dog
  12. Fresco Burrito Supreme (Chicken). Fresco Burrito Supreme (Chicken) [Internet]. www.caloriecap.com. 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 25]. Available from: https://www.caloriecap.com/taco-bell/fresco-burrito-supreme-chicken
  13. Melinda. HelpGuide.org [Internet]. HelpGuide.org. 2019 [cited 2022 Aug 26]. Available from: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/healthier-fast-food.htm
  14. Carbone JW, Pasiakos SM. Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit. Nutrients [Internet]. 2019 May 22 [cited 2022 Aug 26];11(5):1136. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6566799/

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