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The Healthiest Taco Bell Items For Every Diet in 2024 (High-Protein & Low-Calorie Options)

Is it possible to eat healthy at Taco Bell? Absolutely! In this post, I’m breaking down the entire menu to help you find the best options for your diet.

Highlights

  • The Power Bowl with no rice or beans is the best keto-friendly option at Taco Bell, containing 240 calories, 14g fat, 4g net carbs, and 21g protein.
  • The Soft Grilled Chicken Taco Fresco Style is the best low-fat option, with 130 calories, 3.5g fat, 16g carbs, and 11g protein.
  • Ordering “fresco style” is a great way to save calories, while ordering extra meat is the easiest way to maximize protein of any item.

Before we dive in, I want to hit you with a few overall notes regarding Taco Bell‘s menu in general.

First and foremost, I should preface this post by acknowledging that you’re likely not looking to eat at Taco Bell to be specifically “healthy.”

Generally speaking, you’re not going to a fast food restaurant in search of the healthiest food (with fast-food chains like Subway or Panera being general exceptions).

That being said, I always find it useful to understand what it is that I’m eating even if I’m not overly concerned with eating the healthiest options.

It’s not about always trying to be as healthy as possible, but it’s about knowing what choices are best to make for YOU.

In doing research for this post, it’s clear to me that Taco Bell has some quality options for healthy eating.

We’re going to break down the Taco Bell menu calories and full nutrition for the Taco Bell menu as of January 2024. I will be sure to keep this guide as up-to-date as possible, especially because menu items at Taco Bell tend to come and go rather quickly.

What are the Healthiest Options at Taco Bell?

Before we break down the full menu, let’s explore what some of the healthier options are depending on specific dietary preferences.

Note that as we go through this post in general, I won’t necessarily be touching on things like saturated fat or worrying about how many mg sodium or grams of fiber an item may have.

While those things are great to look at when determining healthy options, we’re going to look strictly at calories and macronutrients for these purposes.

The best keto-friendly option at Taco Bell

Keto Bowl from The Diet Chef
Power Bowl With No Rice or Beans

240 Calories, 14g Fat, 4g Net Carbs, 21g Protein

Ordering a power menu bowl is a great option if you’re looking to minimize your calories or carbs and eat high protein. Think of it as a burrito bowl you’d order from Chipotle.

Thanks to my friend Joe Duff over at thedietchefs.com, there is a full keto-friendly / low-carb Taco Bell breakdown for ya if you want to explore more options.

Best low-fat option at Taco Bell

Soft Grilled Chicken Taco Fesco Style

130 Calories, 3.5g Fat, 16g Carbs, 11g Protein

A chicken soft taco is a great way to eat low-fat and low calorie. These are two swaps that will go a long way in saving you calories and/or fat when ordering at Taco Bell:

1) Swapping ground beef for grilled chicken.

2) Asking for your food “fresco style,” which swaps out cheese & dairy-based sauces for tomato.

We’ll dive more into fresco-style options in a little bit.

Highest protein option at Taco Bell

Chicken Grilled cheese burrito
Chicken Grilled Cheese Burrito (With Extra Chicken)

740 Calories, 39g Fat, 62g Carbs, 37g Protein

On its own, the chicken grilled cheese burrito from Taco Bell is a good source of protein with 29 grams. But if you want to kick things up a notch, order extra chicken to get a solid 37 grams of protein.

Sure, it may not be the lowest-calorie option with nearly 750 calories, but when you’re getting almost 40 grams of protein (not to mention a pretty giant burrito) that’s not too bad!

If you want to maximize your protein but bring the calories down a bit, ask for this same burrito without the sour cream and nacho cheese. Be removing these two components, you’ll save roughly 100 calories without reducing the protein content.

Don’t worry, we’re going to dive into more options below, along with how to customize any item to maximize your protein.

The Healthiest Tacos at Taco Bell

Tacos, Doritos, Chalupas, oh my!

Tacos are the bread & butter here (if you’re asking me, the Doritos Locos Taco is the best tasting on the menu, but many will argue for the Cheesy Gordita Crunch), but what you see here is not all you are limited to.

Lucky for us, whether you prefer flour tortilla, hard shell, double-stacked, or chalupa, there are countless options to choose from.

The tacos listed here are if you order them exactly as-is, but there are plenty of substitutions you can make to save some calories or up the protein.

Let’s take the Soft Taco Supreme and make some changes to see how it affects the final nutrition.

As is, the Soft Taco Supreme is 210 Calories, 10g Fat, 20g Carbs, and 9g Protein.

If you want to save some calories and bump up the protein a bit, you can swap the beef for grilled chicken. That will change the taco to 180 Calories and 13g of Protein.

Another option you have is to order the taco “fresco style.” Fresco simply means swapping out the dairy (cheese and sour cream) and mayo-based sauces for tomatoes. This will work for either a crunchy taco or a soft taco.

In this case, ordering the Soft Taco Supreme “fresco style” changes the nutrition to 160 Calories, 7g Fat, 18g Carbs, and 8g Protein.

Finally, you can make any of the tacos vegetarian by ordering a black bean taco instead of seasoned beef, chicken, or steak.

For the ultimate calorie saver, you can order the taco vegetarian AND fresco. In this case, the same taco would end up being just 140 calories- not bad!

Lowest Calorie Taco at Taco Bell

Taco Bell Crunchy Taco

Crunchy Taco: 170 Calories | 9g Fat | 13g Carbs | 8g Protein

Highest Calorie Taco at Taco Bell

Doritos Cheesy Gordita Crunch: 500 Calories | 28g Fat | 41g Carbs | 20g Protein

Best Taco for High-Protein

Chicken Taco: 250 Calories | 7g Fat | 24g Carbs | 22g Protein

To maximize your protein at Taco Bell, you need to get a little bit creative. There’s an entire guide to taco customizations a little bit lower in this guide, but here’s a custom soft taco you can order that has the macros of a protein bar:

Order a soft taco with extra grilled chicken, easy (light) cheese, black beans, tomatoes, and lettuce. Not only will it be filling, but it will help you crush those protein goals.

The Healthiest Burritos & Quesadillas at Taco Bell

After tacos, burritos are the most popular items at Taco Bell. In terms of portability, you simply cannot beat the burrito.

By looking over the items here, you can see that the calories vary quite a bit, from 190 calories in the small Chipotle Chicken Melt, all the way up to 720 calories with the Grilled Cheese Burrito.

Taco Bell is constantly rotating these items, and you’ll sometimes see menu options like the Quesarito, or the “double steak” options offered in 2023.

When it comes to deciding what to order here, aside from calories, protein may be the largest differentiator.

If you’re looking to maximize your protein intake (personally, that would be my goal), adding extra meat to a burrito will give you the best bang for your buck.

For example, a Beefy 5-Layer Burrito will go from 18 grams of protein up to 22 grams of protein with extra seasoned beef, and up to 29 grams of protein if you swap the beef out completely for extra chicken.

Overall, the nutrition facts of these burritos and quesadillas will vary greatly if you opt to leave out the extra cheese sauce or other dairy-based sauces like sour cream.

If you leave those out and focus on other items such as black beans, refried beans, or pico de gallo, you’ll bring those calories way down overall.

Lowest Calorie Burrito at Taco Bell

Chipotle Chicken Melt

Chicken Chipotle Melt: 190 Calories | 9g Fat | 16g Carbs | 12g Protein

Technically the cheesy roll up contains slightly fewer calories (180) but that eats more more like a snack than the version with grilled chicken added.

Highest Calorie Burrito at Taco Bell

Grilled Cheese Burrito: 720 Calories | 40g Fat | 64g Carbs | 26g Protein

The Best Options for High-Protein

Taco Bell Steak Quesadilla

Steak or Chicken Quesadilla: 520 Calories | 26g Fat | 41g Carbs | 26g Protein

You’d think burritos would be protein-packed, but the burrito with the most protein is the steak grilled cheese burrito, which contains 28 grams of protein with 700 calories. Not exactly an amazing protein source.

Instead, go for a quesadilla. The chicken and steak quesadillas both contain 26 grams of protein with 500 calories, and you can sneak in some extra protein by opting for extra meat.

The Healthiest Specialties & Sides at Taco Bell

Nacho Fries and Mexican Pizzas are back, baby! What a time to be alive.

It seems that Taco Bell will forever be rotating Nacho Fries on and off the menu, but at the time of writing this, they’re back on the menu and there are talks of them becoming a permanent menu item, so let’s all cross our fingers together.

Much like French fries at most fast-food restaurants, the amount of fries you receive is going to vary greatly depending on the day and Taco Bell location, but they did recently begin offering the option to order a large.

If your server is in a good mood, you may get a much more generous serving on any given day, so the calories may be a bit higher than what you see listed here.

Outside of the side dish options, we’re also looking the Mexican Pizza, Crunch Wraps, and bowls. Power Bowls are Taco Bell’s equivalent to a burrito bowl from Chipotle.

If I were ordering a Power Bowl, I’d opt to go with grilled chicken, and I’d leave out the nacho cheese sauce and shredded cheese to maximize the protein and minimize the overall calories.

For me, cheese doesn’t add a whole lot, so I don’t mind leaving it out. I’ll load up on salsa or pico de gallo instead (and hot sauce, of course).

Lowest Calorie Side Dish at Taco Bell

Black Beans: 50 Calories | 1.5g Fat | 7g Carbs | 3g Protein

Highest Calorie Side Dish at Taco Bell

Taco Bell Nacho Fries

Large Nacho Fries without Nacho Cheese Sauce: 410 Calories | 23g Fat | 46g Carbs | 5g Protein

Nacho Fries With Nacho Cheese Sauce: 470 Calories | 27g Fat | 50g Carbs | 6g Protein

The Best Taco Bell Specialty Item for Protein

Since side dishes are, well, only side dishes, they don’t offer a ton of protein. Instead, let’s look to the specialty item with the most bang for your buck…

Taco Bell Power Menu Bowl

Power Menu Bowl: 460 Calories | 21g Fat | 41g Carbs | 27g Protein

You can customize your bowl however you’d like, but if you order a power menu bowl with grilled chicken as-is, you’re looking at under 500 calories with 27 grams of protein- a great option.

The Healthiest Breakfast Items at Taco Bell

I’ve never had breakfast from Taco Bell, but looking at their options, I’m very tempted to give it a try.

With breakfast options, you have less room for substitutions or calorie savers, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely out of luck.

If breakfast meat (bacon or breakfast sausage) isn’t your cup of tea, you have the option to swap it for grilled steak instead. And who doesn’t love steak and eggs?

For a small calorie saver, you can always take the cheese out of any of the options as well.

It may not seem like much, but if you were to order the cheesy toasted breakfast burrito with steak and no nacho cheese sauce, it would bring the total calories to 310. It’s not huge savings, but it’s something!

And of course, you should always pair your breakfast with a crispy hashbrown. Hash browns are pretty much non-negotiable in my mind when ordering fast food breakfast (or any breakfast, for that matter).

Lowest Calorie Breakfast Item at Taco Bell

Cheesy Breakfast Burrito Potato: 350 Calories | 14g Fat | 44g Carbs | 9g Protein

Highest Calorie Breakfast Item at Taco Bell

Taco Bell Breakfast Crunchwrap

Breakfast Sausage Crunchwrap: 750 Calories | 49g Fat | 53g Carbs | 21g Protein

The Best Taco Bell Breakfast for High-Protein

Steak Breakfast Quesadilla

Steak Breakfast Quesadilla: 510 Calories | 25g Fat | 41g Carbs | 28g Protein

Many of the breakfast options contain at least 20 grams of protein, so you have a bunch of options to choose from, but a lot of those options come with a lot of calories.

For the best protein-to-calories ratio, choose the steak breakfast quesadilla. With just over 500 calories and nearly 30 grams of protein, it’s a seriously impressive high-protein option.

How to Save Calories at Taco Bell: Order Fresco Style

Taco Bell Fresco Menu

Fresco Style isn’t technically its own menu, but rather a style of ordering you can choose (like “animal style” at In-N-Out).

If you order anything “Fresco Style,” it replaces any mayo or dairy-based sauces (like avocado ranch sauce), shredded cheese, nacho cheese sauce, and sour cream, with freshly diced tomatoes.

Depending on what you order, that can lead to huge calorie savings.

If calories aren’t a concern, fresco items are also great for anyone who chooses to (or has to) eat dairy-free.

To get an idea of the calorie savings, a regular Soft Taco Supreme with beef contains 210 calories. If you order that Soft Beef Taco “fresco style,” it’ll bring the calories all the way down to 160.

Personally, I find a fresco crunchy taco to be even better than one with cheddar cheese on it!

Small savings can go a long way, especially if you’re ordering multiple items.

Build Your Own Macro-Friendly Taco Bell Order

Since the menu items at Taco Bell are so customizable, I wanted to put together a guide to help you visualize your own high-protein, low-calorie Taco Bell order.

Choose a soft shell or crunchy sell, select a protein, then choose your toppings to build the ultimate macro-friendly Taco Bell order.

Other toppings are not listed here, like tomatoes, onion, and lettuce, but they add virtually no calories, so I decided to leave them off.

Surprisingly, the amount of meat you get is the same in a single taco and a burrito (at least according to the nutrition calculator on Taco Bell’s website) so you can use the above infographic to build a burrito as well.

You’ll see that sauces add minimal calories to a taco. For example, spicy ranch sauce adds only 30 calories to each taco because it is a small amount. Be mindful if you order that same sauce as a side- in the cause of spicy ranch, you’re getting 7 times the sauce, so those calories can add up quickly.

If you want some inspiration for macro-friendly options at Taco Bell and don’t want to put them together yourself, I created some options to get you started.

There is not one single best option because you can easily switch up an order to fit your specific macro needs, but these are all high-protein, healthy options you can order:

1. Grilled Chicken Doritos Locos Taco

Order a Doritos Locos Taco, but swap the beef for grilled chicken and add extra grilled chicken.

190 Calories, 7g Fat, 12g Carbs, 19g Protein

2. Bean Burrito With Steak

Order a bean burrito, but add extra steak for added protein.

460 Calories, 14g Fat, 57g Carbs, 28g Protein

3. Grilled Chicken Power Bowl

Order a power bowl with extra grilled chicken, black beans, seasoned rice, easy/light cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and the hot sauce of your choice.

390 Calories, 12g Fat, 38g Carbs, 32g Protein

4. Steak Quesadilla

Order a quesadilla with extra steak and ask for no creamy jalapeno sauce.

500 Calories, 23g Fat, 42g Carbs, 33g Protein

5. Steak & Eggs Breakfast Burrito

Order a cheesy toasted breakfast burrito without bacon, add extra steak, ask for extra eggs, and ask for easy/light nacho cheese.

440 Calories, 20g Fat, 39g Carbs, 27g Protein

Final Note: is Taco Bell healthy?

While Taco Bell has historically gotten a bad rap for using low-quality ingredients, that has certainly changed in recent years.

When you break down the menu, you can see that there are some real quality options. If you’re looking for fresh food, a Taco Bell restaurant is actually not a bad choice at all.

Nutritionally, it’s only as “unhealthy” as you make it. If you know what substitutions to make, the Taco Bell menu can be quite healthy.

All in all, if you’re looking for low-calorie options, you’ll want to limit the nacho cheese, sour cream, guacamole, or heavy sauces.

“Fresco style” without the cheese or sauce will save a ton of calories in some cases, and will still be very delicious with the addition of the salsa.

Ultimately, if you’re going to eat a meal at Taco Bell, you certainly do not need to worry about nutrition. You’re likely looking for a treat, in which case you can enjoy any item you’d like without worrying about the calories.

If you want to just enjoy some tacos without the thought of calories or macros, you absolutely should.

That being said, I always find it helpful to be educated about the nutrition of the food I’m eating. Whether or not I’m actively tracking my macros or counting my calories, I find it incredibly helpful to have a general idea of the calories and macros I’m consuming.

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About Matt Rosenman

With over 15 years of experience in health and fitness, Matt Rosenman is the expert voice behind Cheatdaydesign.com. Matt’s philosophy is simple: no foods are off-limits, and a healthy lifestyle shouldn't be complicated or restrictive. As a former certified personal trainer with a bachelor’s degree in Health Behavioral Sciences, Matt brings well-rounded expertise to his blog. From revamping classic recipes with a nutritious twist to breaking down fast food menus, his goal is make healthy living less confusing for everyone. Featured in major publications and with a strong following on social media, Matt is committed to making “healthy” uncomplicated—no matter where you are in your health journey. Join Matt on his mission to simplify health without sacrificing flavor. Learn More