Fast food is easy, cheap, and accessible, but it certainly has its fair share of negative qualities when it comes to your nutrition and health. It’s also usually loaded with saturated fat, added sugars, and many types of preservatives, and it often lacks protein, fiber, and other helpful ingredients.
Eating foods that are highly processed and low in protein (like many fast food items) can contribute to things like weight gain, high cholesterol, gut imbalance, and heart complications. Unfortunately, because fast food is oftentimes the most easily accessible and most affordable type of food when you’re on the go, it can be tough to not pull into the drive-thru on a super busy day.
Thankfully there are some solutions for those days when you’re in a bind and need a quick meal. To learn about more healthy fast food options out there, we talked with Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and member of our Expert Medical Board to get her take on the best high-protein fast food breakfast items you can order.
Chick-fil-A is arguably one of the best fast food options if you’re wanting to personalize your order to fit your health needs. They offer plenty of healthier alternatives for breakfast, including this delicious breakfast sandwich.
“Layered with grilled chicken, American cheese, and egg white on a multigrain English muffin, this breakfast sandwich packs 26 grams of protein for under 300 calories! And what’s better is that it only contains 8 grams of fat. Pair this with a fruit cup or if you want a little more protein, a 7 oz bottle of milk (with 7 grams of protein) for a nutrient-rich, protein-packed breakfast on the go,” says Goodson.
Many people may forget about Starbucks when it comes to ordering a nutrient-dense breakfast, but they actually have some great protein-heavy options to go along with your favorite PSL.
“If you are looking for something to grab with your morning coffee, try a Starbucks Egg & Gouda Protein Box. This box comes with hard-boiled eggs, gouda cheese, multigrain crackers, peanut butter, and dried fruit. While a little higher in calories at 530, this protein box packs 26 grams of protein and is easy to eat on the go or take to a morning meeting. Plus, it contains four food groups,” says Goodson.
When you’re heading to Dunkin’, it could be tempting to just order a donut or two. Unfortunately, you won’t get any protein and will most likely be hungry an hour later. Instead, try one of their breakfast sandwiches.
“Coming in under 500 calories and with 23 grams of protein, this breakfast sandwich can be a good pick, especially over the donuts they sell. The protein content of the turkey sausage, egg, and cheese will help you stay full throughout the morning! Plus, it comes on an English Muffin instead of a biscuit or croissant,” says Goodson.
Subway is famous for being a quick lunch hour stop, but they serve delicious breakfast sandwiches as well.
“With 24 grams of protein and only 410 calories, this Subway Breakfast Flatbread Sub is a great option for a quick breakfast! And the best part is they will let you add veggies if you ask. And if you are looking for a vegetarian-friendly option, they also have an egg and cheese version of the same breakfast sub. While coming in a little lower in protein at 19 grams, it is still a protein-packed way to start the morning,” says Goodson.