If you’re following a high-protein diet, fast food may not seem like the greatest choice.
But you might be surprised to see that there are actually some great options out there for ya!
I don’t want to try to direct you towards the “healthiest” item at every fast food restaurant, because we all define healthy differently.
Instead, let’s look strictly at which items have the most protein to help you hit your protein goals.
We’ll look at two options for high protein fast food:
1) The menu item with the highest protein overall. This is usually packed with calories as well.
2) The highest protein for a menu item under 500 calories. If you want to maximize your protein but don’t want to consume a ton of calories, looking at options under 500 calories will help keep you on track.
Highest Protein McDonald’s Menu Item
Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese
740 Calories, 42g Fat, 43g Carbs, 48g Protein
This burger from McDonald’s is not necessary the “healthiest” option out there, but it’s the highest protein item that McDonald’s currently offers on their menu. I was surprised to find that a Big Mac actually contains much less protein, with only 25g of protein overall (with 550 calories).
Highest Protein McDonald’s Menu Item Under 500 Calories
Quarter Pounder With Cheese (No Ketchup)
500 Calories, 26g Fat, 38g Carbs, 30g Protein
If you go with the Quarter Pounder with Cheese, but leave out the condiments, it’ll leave you with exactly 500 calories and 30g of protein. Believe it or not, this burger actually contains more well-rounded nutrition than a chicken sandwich.
If you order a McChicken, it contains 400 calories but only 14g of protein- less than HALF of the quarter pounder!
Highest Protein Burger King Menu Item
2,100 Calories, 93g Fat, 52g Carbs, 70g Protein
Burger King takes the crown of having the single highest calorie item of any fast food chain. The Bacon King is listed on the Burger King website as having over 2,000 calories! The Bacon King contains a full half-pound of beef, cheese, a “hearty portion of thick-cut bacon,” ketchup, and mayonnaise.
Technically speaking, this item contains the most protein, but considering the calories, it’s really not a great choice for your protein intake, considering it contains 93g of fat, 40g of which are saturated fat.
Let’s look at an option that’s a bit lower-calorie…
Highest Protein Burger King Menu Item Under 500 Calories
Bacon Double Cheeseburger
390 Calories, 21g Fat, 27g Carbs, 24g Protein
Much like at McDonald’s, the double cheeseburger from Burger King will get you the most protein under 500 calories. However, the protein total is not all that impressive. If you break down the full Burger King menu, you’ll actually find that Burger King has some of the lowest-protein options, so it may not be great for a high-protein diet.
Highest Protein Wendy’s Menu Item
Big Bacon Triple
1,220 Calories, 86g Fat, 38g Carbs, 75g Protein
The Big Bacon Tripe from Wendy’s is a massive burger, so it comes as no surprise that it’s the highest protein item on the menu. I’ll let the Wendy’s website explain this one to ya: “Three quarters of a pound* of fresh, never-frozen beef, Applewood smoked bacon, American cheese, crisp lettuce, tomato, pickle, ketchup, mayo, and onion on a toasted bun.”
Highest Protein Wendy’s Menu Item Under 500 Calories
Grilled Asiago Ranch Chicken Club
490 Calories, 21g Fat, 34g Carbs, 40g Protein
Wendy’s is one of the few fast food chains with a grilled chicken sandwich option, and it clocks in as the highest-protein item under 500 calories.
If you want to go with even lower calories, go for the Classic Grilled Chicken Sandwich. That sandwich contains only 350 calories and still packs 33g of quality protein.
Chick-fil-A is one of the best fast food restaurants out there if eating high-protein is your goal. By using lean white-meat chicken in most of their menu items, most of the options are actually low calorie and very high in protein.
Highest Protein Chick-fil-A Menu Item
Chick-fil-A® Cool Wrap
350 Calories, 12g Fat, 29g Carbs, 42g Protein
The Cool Wrap is made up of grilled chicken, lettuce, and shredded cheese. On its own, it is rather low calorie, but be mindful of the dressing it comes with. If you pair the wrap with the Avocado Lime Ranch Dressing, it will add an additional 310 calories!
Highest Protein Chick-fil-A Menu Item Under 300 Calories
12 Piece Grilled Nuggets
200 Calories, 4.5g Fat, 2g Carbs, 38g Protein
If you follow a low carb or keto diet, the grilled chicken nuggets are going to be your go-to order. A 12-piece is only 200 calories and 38g of protein, on-par with any grilled chicken breast.
Much like the cool wrap, be mindful of the dipping sauce you choose. Depending on what you pair your nuggets with, you can easily add hundreds of calories to your meal.
Highest Protein Taco Bell Menu Item
Cheesy Gordita Crunch with Extra Grilled Chicken
520 Calories, 26g Fat, 40g Carbs, 32g Protein
In recent years, Chipotle has stolen the crown from Taco Bell when it comes to Mexican food. When it comes to customizing your order and maximizing the nutrition, it’s tough to do better than Chipotle.
But many people don’t realize how customizable Taco Bell is, too! You can make plenty of substitutions to your order to make the most of the nutrition. If you order a Cheesy Gordita Crunch with Grilled Chicken and ask for extra protein, you’ll be getting in 32g of protein! Not bad at all.
Highest Protein Taco Bell Menu Item Under 500 Calories
Power Menu Bowl
470 Calories, 19g Fat, 50g Carbs, 26g Protein
The Taco Bell Power Bowl (essentially a burrito bowl) was added to the menu as a healthy option, and it does not dissapoint. This bowl packs grilled chicken, seasoned rice, black beans, lettuce, tomatoes, reduced-fat sour cream, guacamole, and ranch.
As-is, this bowl has just under 500 calories and 26g of protein, but it can be customized to really maximize the protein.
If you leave off the guacamole, sour cream, and ranch, opting for salsa as a topping instead, and ask for extra chicken & black beans, you’ll bump the protein all the way up to 36g for the same amount of calories!
Highest Protein Arby’s Menu Item
Half Pound French Dip & Swiss
740 Calories, 35g Fat, 52g Carbs, 55g Protein
Arby’s has the meats, that’s for sure. This half-pound sandwich is a real beast, weighing in at 740 calories, but also containing 55g of protein. Since that sandwich might be larger than you’re even able to consume, the classic roast beef might be a better choice for you with only 360 calories and 23g of protein.
Highest Protein Arby’s Menu Item Under 500 Calories
Roast Turkey Gyro
470 Calories, 20g Fat, 48g Carbs, 25g Protein
While there are lower calorie options at Arby’s with a decent amount of protein, (like the Classic Roast Beef mentioned above) the Roast Turkey Gyro technically has the most protein for under 500 calories.
Highest Protein Panera Menu Item
Bacon Turkey Bravo Sandwich
860 Calories, 41g Fat, 75g Carbs, 50g Protein
Many people are surprised to learn that Panera sandwiches are not low calorie in a lot of cases. I’m not saying that Panera is unhealthy, but my first impression was that the sandwiches would all be under 500 calories, and that was not the case.
When it comes to ordering at Panera, the “you pick two” option is popular, where you order half a sandwich and half of either soup or salad. In that case, this turkey sandwich would be 430 calories and 25g of protein.
Highest Protein Panera Menu Item Under 500 Calories
Chicken Casear Salad
500 Calories, 23g Fat, 44g Carbs, 32g Protein
The Caesar Salad with Chicken will get you the most protein for 500 calories or less at Panera. This is actually surprising to me, because caesar salad is notoriously high in calories, but it’s one of the lower-calorie choices here at Panera. If calories are a concern, ask for the salad dressing on the side so you can control how much goes onto your salad.
Also, be conscious of the sides. You can choose bread or chips as a side to your salad, but that will obviously come with a fair amount of additional calories. If you want to keep the calories low, you have the option to choose some fresh fruit, yogurt, or an apple.
Highest Protein KFC Menu Item
650 Calories, 35g Fat, 49g Carbs, 34g Protein
Okay, technically this sandwich is the second-highest in protein, and the highest is actually the option listed below. However, I wanted to highlight the chicken sandwich here because it is one of the highest fried chicken sandwiches out there. Check out my full guide comparing all the popular chicken sandwiches to see how this one stacks up.
Highest Protein KFC Menu Item Under 500 Calories
Original Recipe Chicken Breast
390 Calories, 4g Fat, 2g Carbs, 39g Protein
The chicken breast is going to give you the most bang for your buck at KFC, and you have the option to go with a fried or grilled version. The Original Recipe Chicken Breast contains 39g of protein, but 390 calories. If you go with the Grilled Chicken Breast, it will contain only 210 calories and 38g of protein, giving you the most protein for the fewest calories.
Highest Protein Subway Menu Item
Baja Steak & Jack Melt
890 Calories, 44g Fat, 77g Carbs, 57g Protein
The most protein at Subway will come from the steak & jack melt with nearly 60g of protein. However, if you want to keep your calories lower (which is a goal for many people eating at Subway) then this sandwich with nearly 900 calories may not be your best bet.
Highest Protein Subway Menu Item Under 500 Calories
Buffalo Chicken Melt
450 Calories, 22g Fat, 40g Carbs, 30g Protein
The Buffalo Chicken melt at Subway has some very impressive nutrition overall. With only 450 calories, it packs 30g of quality protein.
If you wanted to keep your calories very low, you can go with the Veggie Delite sandwich, which contains only 200 calories. However, with it being fully vegan, it does not contain much protein with only 8g overall.
Highest Protein Starbucks Menu Item
Turkey & Pesto Panini
550 Calories, 21g Fat, 53g Carbs, 34g Protein
The Turkey & Pesto Panini is a great lunch option at Starbucks if you want something high in protein to keep you full through the afternoon. With just over 500 calories, having 34g of protein is a solid option!
Highest Protein Starbucks Menu Item Under 500 Calories
Egg & Cheddar Protein Box
470 Calories, 25g Fat, 40g Carbs, 23g Protein
Starbucks has a wide range of “protein boxes” available, but not all of them are impressive in the protein department. Of all of the boxes, the Egg & Cheddar Protein Box will get you the most protein for the fewest calories.
For reference, the peanut butter and jelly box contains over 500 calories and only 20g of protein.
It’s worth noting that because this protein box contains whole egg and cheese, the fat content is a little bit higher, but it is mostly healthy fat that you do not need to be overly concerned with.