Eating on the run can be difficult for a dedicated bodybuilder. Learn which fast food meals are the best, and which fast food restaurants you should avoid.

On the go and need a quick, healthy meal? I’m sure as a natural bodybuilder, the last thing you want to do is eat at a fast food restaurant.

But if you must, I’ve compiled a list of good and bad menu items by restaurant chain.

Print this list out and take it on road trips. Or place it on your desk at college, so if you and your buddies hit the town, you’ll know what to gobble down.

Keep in mind that fast food menu items are constantly changing. If you find a new item that’s not on this list, avoid eating it until you get all the facts. Most fast food restaurants provide nutritional data in store, or via their website.

Fast Food Choices

Fast foodArby’s

Arby’s has some quality menu items, and should be at the top of the list for fast food munching bodybuilders. Most of Arby’s light menu items with chicken have 30 or more grams of protein, and are under 300 total calories.

But beware if you stray from the light menu. The seemingly harmless Roast Turkey Ranch and Bacon Sandwich packs a 830 calorie punch.

  • Light Grilled Chicken, 280 calories, 30 grams of protein
  • Light Roast Chicken Deluxe, 260 calories, 33 grams of protein
  • Light Roast Turkey Deluxe, 260 calories, 33 grams of protein
  • AVOID… Roast Turkey Ranch and Bacon Sandwich, 830 calories, 49 grams of protein

Burger King

Burger King is not the king of nutrition-friendly, bodybuilding meals. In fact, it’s one of the worst places to eat. Even the best items on the menu slog in at a near 500 calorie total. Gravitate towards anything with chicken, and avoid anything with a double or triple in its name.

If you must eat here, keep it simple and plain. An up-sized Double Whopper meal with fries and a drink can weigh in at nearly 2,000 calories. Sounds fun, huh?

And whatever you eat, make sure you scrape off the mayo!

  • Specialty Chicken Sandwich (no mayo!), 460 calories, 25 grams of protein
  • Chicken Whopper (no mayo!), 460 calories, 25 grams of protein
  • Whopper Jr. (no mayo!), 540 calories, 30 grams of protein
  • AVOID… Double Whopper with Cheese, 1,060 calories, 56 grams of protein

Jack In The Box

The healthiest choice for bodybuilders at Jack In The Box is the Chicken Fajita Pita. The Chicken Fajita Pita contains only 302 calories, and provides 23 grams of protein. It’s a better alternative them a Jack In The Box hamburger, which has 7 fewer grams of protein, and more fat.

If you’re looking for a quality post-workout meal with few calories, you can’t go wrong with the Jack In The Box Chicken Teriyaki Bowl. The Chicken Teriyaki bowl has an amazing 103 grams of protein, and weighs in at a petite 550 calories.

Avoid at all costs the Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger. The Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger has 1,094 calories, and only 46 grams of protein. It’s a heart attack in a bun.

  • Chicken Fajita Pita, 302 calories, 23 grams of protein
  • Chicken Teriyaki Bowl, 550 Calories, 103 grams of protein
  • AVOID… Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger, 1,094 calories, 46 grams of protein


You might think that it’s wise to avoid KFC altogether. But truth be told, they have some solid, and tasty menu items that are fairly nutritionally sound.

The Tender Roast Sandwich and Original Recipe Sandwich are good choices IF you eat them without sauce. I repeat…WITHOUT sauce. And the worst item on the KFC menu…the dreaded Pot Pie Chunky Chicken…is stuffed with carbs and fat.

  • Tender Roast Sandwich (no sauce!), 270 calories, 31 grams of protein
  • Original Recipe Sandwich (no sauce!), 320 calories, 29 grams of protein
  • Original Recipe Chicken Breast, 370 calories, 40 grams of protein
  • AVOID…Pot Pie Chunky Chicken, 830 calories, 30 grams of protein


Time for a little shock and awe. McDonald’s has a couple of very solid choices for bodybuilders. As long as you stick with the words grilled, chicken and salad, you will be good to go.

McDonald’s has 2 grilled chicken salad menu items that contain over 30 grams of protein, and are under 300 total calories. So, soccer moms aren’t the only ones who should be hitting Mickey D’s.

  • Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad. 220 calories, 30 grams of protein
  • Grilled Chicken California Cobb Salad. 280 calories, 35 grams of protein
  • Chicken McGrill, 420 calories, 32 grams of protein
  • AVOID…Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, 730 calories, 47 grams of protein


This will seem like a no-brainer, but Subway is one of the best choices in fast food. Most of the menu items are bodybuilder friendly. Even the worst item on the list, the 6” Meatball Sub, really isn’t all that bad compared to the horrible items on other fast food menus.

Your best bet is to stick with 6” subs, preferably with chicken. Add a ton of veggies, hot peppers and onions, and your tummy and taste buds will thank you.

  • 6” Roasted Chicken, 330 calories, 24 grams of protein
  • 6” Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki, 380 calories, 26 grams of protein
  • 6” Subway Club, 320 calories, 24 grams of protein
  • AVOID…6” Meatball, 560 calories, 24 grams of protein

Taco Bell

Taco Bell has some nice, low-cal menu items. Unfortunately, these items don’t contain much protein, so you may have to eat more then one. With this in mind, Taco Bell is not the safest place for a bodybuilder to eat.

The best item menu, the Soft Chicken Taco, has only 170 calories. But here’s the kicker. The Soft Chicken Taco contains only 12 grams of protein. Can you say, where’s the chicken? I knew you could!

If you’re looking for protein, Taco Bell is at the bottom of the barrel.

  • Soft Chicken Taco, 170 calories, 12 grams of protein
  • Soft Chicken Taco Supreme, 350 calories, 19 grams of protein
  • AVOID…Nachos Bell Grande, 780 calories, 20 grams of protein


If you hit Wendy’s, think of one word – and one word only. Chicken. The Grilled Chicken Sandwich is your best bet, with 36 grams of protein and only 300 calories. Step up to the Grilled Breast Fillet Sandwich, and you get 46 grams of protein and 430 calories. Still not a bad choice.

Avoid anything on the Wendy’s menu that contains bacon. The Big Bacon Classic has 580 calories and 35 grams of protein. Obviously, it’s dripping with fat.

  • Grilled Chicken Sandwich, 300 calories, 36 grams of protein
  • Chicken Breast Fillet Sandwich, 430 calories, 46 grams of protein
  • AVOID…Big Bacon Classic, 580 calories, 35 grams of protein
Posted on: Fri, 09/08/2023 - 12:13

good article but unfortunatly
completly outdated...
eg. for Jack in the box
Chicken Teriyaki Bowl, 550 Calories, 103 grams of protein
is now 630 Calories for 34 protein...
Would need a big update..

Posted on: Sun, 05/13/2018 - 16:39

I am an ectomorph. I'm right at the beginning stages of bulking up and then I will cut as I do my arms core and leg workouts. I am a former Avid cyclist and US Marine that has trimmed down from 160's being very low BMI and 150's, but still quite strong.

What do you think about me eating the items on the AVOID list as well as the others?

Posted on: Fri, 02/28/2014 - 19:45

Wendy's chicken breast fillet has 27 grams of protein and 46 grams of carbohydrates. Please fix the error.

Mr. Frank
Posted on: Sun, 12/30/2012 - 01:35

Yes my lover Chris is a very fat adolescent and im trying to get him to lose fat and add this was very i would love to gain muscle myself but im a 73 year old man

James Clark
Posted on: Sat, 11/03/2012 - 11:45

Great article thanks

Posted on: Wed, 10/19/2011 - 11:07

Hi Steve,

I know you wrote this article a long while ago, but I just wanted to chime in to say that Panda Express seems to be a really strong candidate for good fast food choice. If you get a 2-entree platter with a side of steamed vegetables and chicken entrees like black pepper chicken, string bean chicken, chicken & mushroom and kung pao chicken - you have a nice bodybuilder meal rich in protein, vitamins and healthy carbs (although can be a bit high in fat or sodium).

Posted on: Tue, 08/03/2010 - 12:53

hey you stated that An up-sized Double Whopper meal with fries and a drink can weigh in at nearly 2,000 calories.
would this be good for someone thats trying to bulk?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 08/03/2010 - 13:40

Hi Moe,

If I was trying to bulk, a Double Whopper and whole milk would be at the top of my list.

Posted on: Thu, 07/01/2010 - 15:08

I was looking at Jack-in-the-Box's site ( and they have some different nutritional info for their products than is listed here. Just thought I would point out that the Teriyaki Bowl does not have 103g of protein, that's way too many.

Posted on: Thu, 02/11/2010 - 16:22

hey what about in-n-out? isn't that a healthy alternative for bodybuilders?

Posted on: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 09:37

In-n-out is soooo good.

Posted on: Wed, 10/22/2014 - 23:42

all that grease though. Looks like my arteries are getting exercise too