Top 15 High Protein Fast Food – Eat This, Not That

It’s safe to say that if you plan to stick to specific nutritional goals when choosing a meal, junk food probably isn’t on your mind. However, sometimes fast food is the better option for us because of its accessibility, affordability, and how easy it is to eat when you’re in a hurry. Fortunately, there are plenty of healthy, protein-rich fast food options to choose from when needed.

“The following fast food entrees are actually great sources of protein, which is important for building lean muscle and repair, as well as keeping hunger at bay,” he says. Amy Judson, MS, RD, CSSD, LDauthor Sports nutrition book And a member of our Medical Expert Council. “Protein helps you feel full faster and stay full longer, making it essential to eat it at every meal, not just after a workout.”

But when it comes to getting enough protein at every meal, how much should we aim for? According to Goodson, “The goal is to include 20-30 grams of high-quality protein in your main breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals.”

If you find yourself in a place where you want to order a quick meal, try one of the following high-protein options that can help you meet your protein goals for the day. Then, for more tips on eating out, check out the best dishes to order at a steakhouse.

Courtesy of McDonald’s

per burger: 400 calories, 20g fat (9g saturated fat), 920mg sodium, 33g carbs (2g fiber, 7g sugar), 22g protein.

McDonald’s certainly isn’t a “healthy” McDonald’s, but it’s a tasty way to get 22 grams of protein into your meal. 9 grams of saturated fat isn’t ideal, as the American Heart Association’s recommendation is no more than 13 grams per day, but that number is low when compared to other McDonald’s sandwiches.

Related: The 22 Unhealthiest Salads in America

Burger King Double Cheeseburger
Courtesy of Burger King

per burger: 400 calories, 21g fat (9g saturated fat), 810mg sodium, 30g carbs (1g fiber, 7g sugar), 24g protein.

If Burger King is your choice of fast food, you have a few options when it comes to a protein-rich meal. For example, the BK Double Cheeseburger has 24 grams of protein per sandwich, which matches Goodson’s recommendation of sticking between 20 and 30 grams per serving. However, since the saturated fat and sodium are decently high, you may want to skip the french fries with this one.

Turkey bacon, cheese, cheddar and egg white sandwich from Starbucks
Courtesy of Starbucks

per sandwich: 230 calories, 5g fat (2.5g saturated fat), 560mg sodium, 28g carbohydrates (3g fiber, 2g sugar), 17g protein

This breakfast sandwich from Starbucks is an ideal high-protein fast food option because it’s lower in sodium, calories, total fat, and saturated fat than many other fast food sandwiches, so even though its 17 grams of protein is less than the recommended 20 grams. You still have some nutritional wiggle room to add a side of nuts or avocado.

Roast Beef Gyro
Courtesy of Arby’s

per sandwich: 540 calories, 29g fat (7g saturated fat), 1,300mg sodium, 48g carbs (3g fiber, 5g sugar), 24g protein.

Arby’s is known for its roast beef sandwiches, which means that many of its menu options are higher in saturated fat due to the amount of red meat. However, we like the lighter Roast Beef Gyro option. It still contains just over half the recommended daily intake of saturated fat, but with 3 grams of fiber and 24 grams of protein, this is a good fast-food option that will keep you feeling full and satisfied afterwards.

High-protein superfoods from Carl's Jr.
Courtesy of Carl’s Jr.

per sandwich: 370 calories, 5g fat (1g saturated fat), 1210mg sodium, 49g carbohydrates (1g fiber, 14g sugar), 33g protein

It’s hard to come by with a fast meal with only 1 gram of saturated fat, especially when it also contains 33 grams of protein. How much sodium is in a Carl’s Jr. sandwich? Not the best (it’s about half of the recommended daily maximum), but the calories, fat, and protein are hard to beat.

Related: 11 Healthy Fast Food Burgers, According to Dietitians

Chick-fil-A Market Salad is high in protein
Courtesy of Chick-fil-A

per authority: 370 calories, 31g fat (6g saturated fat), 1,020mg sodium, 41g carbs (5g fiber, 26g sugar), 28g protein.

If a salad with lots of protein and vegetables is the way you want to go, try the Chick-fil-A Market Salad with Grilled Chicken. The 28 grams of protein will fill you up faster and for a longer period of time, but just watch the total fat, sodium and sugar content. Those levels are a little high, but this salad is still a good choice when you need something quick, affordable, and high in protein.

Rotisserie style protein bowl
Courtesy of Subway

per pot: 220 calories, 8g fat (3g saturated fat), 810mg sodium, 8g carbohydrates (3g fiber, 4g sugar), 31g protein

The subway is not just a place for submarines. They also offer salads and protein bowls, which are great options when you want something healthier and more nutrient-dense. This grilled dish delivers 31 grams of protein for 220 calories and 3 grams of saturated fat—something that’s pretty hard to find in many fast food restaurants.

Chipotle salad
per authority: 505 calories, 25 grams of fat, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 37 grams of protein.

It feels satisfying to go to Chipotle and load up a burrito or burrito bowl with the exact ingredients you crave, but a healthy, protein-rich Tex-Mex option is your go-to for chicken salad. With 37 grams of protein, you’ll feel full and have energy to last the rest of the afternoon.

Taco Bell Burrito Supreme
Courtesy of Taco Bell

for the burrito: 370 calories, 11g fat (5g saturated fat), 1150mg sodium, 49g carbs (7g fiber, 4g sugar), 19g protein.

Heading to Taco Bell often might lead to the Crunchwrap Supreme or Bacon Chalupa, but if you need something on the relatively lighter side, the Chicken Burrito Supreme can help. This one comes in at just under 20 grams of protein per serving, but you can add a side of black beans and rice for an extra four grams and a fiber boost.

Wendy's Southwest Salad
Courtesy of Wendy’s

per cover: 420 calories, 25g fat (9g saturated fat), 930mg sodium, 12g carbs (6g fiber, 3g sugar), 39g protein.

Wendy’s Southwest Avocado Salad is a satisfying option for those who crave bacon and chicken but also want to add some greens to their meal. 9 grams of saturated fat isn’t ideal, but with 39 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber adding up, this salad is a good choice the next time you find yourself at a Wendy’s.

Related: 9 Healthy Dishes to Order at Taco Bell, According to Dietitians

Panera deli turkey sandwich
Courtesy of Panera Bread

per sandwich: 600 calories, 19 grams fat (3 grams saturated fat), 1,150 milligrams sodium, 73 grams carbohydrate (5 grams fiber, 5 grams sugar), 35 grams protein.

Panera is known for its massive menu of sandwiches, soups, and salads – all of which range from healthy to not-so-healthy. When looking for a quick, high-protein meal that won’t break the saturated fat bank, the Deli Turkey Sandwich is an easy choice.

Kentucky Fried Chicken And Green Beans
Courtesy of KFC

per chicken breast: 210 calories, 7g fat (2g saturated fat), 710mg sodium, 0g carbs (0g fiber, 0g sugar), 35g protein

per serving of green beans: 25 calories, 0g fat (0g saturated fat), 300mg sodium, 5g carbohydrate (3g fiber, 1g sugar), 1g protein

Many KFC fans may not realize that there is more than just fried chicken, biscuits, and mashed potatoes at this fast food restaurant. If you need something lighter that still yields plenty of protein, you can opt for grilled chicken breast with a side of green beans.

Chick-fil-A grilled chicken sandwich
Courtesy of Chick-fil-A

per sandwich: 380 calories, 12g fat (2g saturated fat), 760mg sodium, 43g carbs (3g fiber, 11g sugar), 28g protein.

For those who love Chick-fil-A but aren’t in the mood for a Market Salad, this grilled chicken sandwich is another healthy option. With nearly 30 grams of protein and only 2 grams of saturated fat, you’ll satisfy your cravings while at the same time being able to stick to your health goals.

A high-protein chicken meal at Boston Market
Courtesy of Boston Market

A quarter of a white chicken: 270 calories, 11 grams of fat, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 43 grams of protein.

per serving of steamed vegetables: 60 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of protein.

Boston Market may not be as enticing as McDonald’s or Chick-fil-A, but don’t sleep at this fast food joint. Their menu is fairly extensive and offers plenty of healthy alternatives – including the Quarter White Meat Chicken with a side of veggies.

Au Bon Pan Chicken Avocado Sandwich
Courtesy of Au Bon Pain

per sandwich: 600 calories, 25g fat (9g saturated fat), 950mg sodium, 53g carbs (3g fiber, 3g sugar), 38g protein

Au Bon Pain is often known more for its coffee and pastries than anything else, but it also has a wide variety of sandwiches and salads to choose from when you need something light in a hurry. This roasted chicken and avocado sandwich provides nearly 40 grams of protein, making it a great option when you need to hit your protein goals for the day.

If you’re looking to pair your sandwich with coffee, try brewed coffee or an iced Americano and add your own cream and sugar. This can give you more control over your nutrition than if you were to opt for something like a mocha latte, caramel macchiato, or chai latte.