Anna is a health-conscious foodie who sometimes needs a quick bite.
Is McDonald’s a Good Source of Protein?
Many people automatically rule out McDonald's if they're on a special diet, thinking the only menu options are filled with fat and unhealthy calories. However, even if you're on a special diet, you can find some acceptable options at McDonald's if you choose carefully.
The menu items chosen below have at least 20 grams of protein and less than 500 calories. They are ranked in order of grams of protein per calorie, so the choices that will give you the most bang for your buck in terms of protein are easy to identify.
McDonald's Entree Nutritional Information
|Entree||Calories||Protein (g)||Grams of Protein per Calorie|
Premium Bacon Ranch Salad with Grilled Chicken
Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken
Premium Grilled Chicken Ranch BLT Sandwich
Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich
Premium McWrap Chicken & Bacon (Grilled)
Premium McWrap Chicken Sweet Chili (Grilled)
Premium McWrap Chicken & Ranch (Grilled)
Premium Bacon Ranch Salad with Crispy Chicken
Bacon Cheddar McChicken
Premium Southwest Salad with Crispy Chicken
Southern Style Crispy Chicken Sandwich
Bacon Buffalo Ranch McChicken
Chicken McNuggets (10 Piece)
High Protein Entrees at McDonald's
These entree menu items are high in protein without being high in calories.
Of course, consuming a few Big Macs will get you some protein, but it will also get you a lot of calories, sodium, and other unhealthy ingredients.
McDonald's Breakfast Nutritional Information
|Breakfast Entree||Calories||Protein (g)||Grams of Protein per Calorie|
Steak & Egg McMuffin
Sausage McMuffin with Egg Whites
Bacon, Egg & Cheese McGriddles with Egg Whites
Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit with Egg Whites (Regular Biscuit)
Sausage McMuffin with Egg
Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit with Egg Whites (Large Biscuit)
Sausage, Egg & Cheese McGriddles with Egg Whites
High Protein Breakfast Options at McDonald's
When it comes to breakfast, there are several decent choices on the McDonald's menu. Topping the list is the Steak & Egg McMuffin, which is no surprise since both steak and eggs are packed with protein. Other high protein options include sausage or bacon.
Most of these choices include some kind of meat and egg. One thing to watch for with the McDonald's breakfast menu is fat and sodium, especially in sausage sandwiches. You'll also notice that the nonfat latte below is a side option with 10 grams of protein, which may work particularly well with breakfast.
McDonald's Side Nutritional Information
|Side||Calories||Protein (g)||Grams of Protein per Calorie|
Nonfat Latte (small)
1% Low Fat Milk Jug
Chipotle BBQ Snack Wrap (Grilled)
Honey Mustard Snack Wrap (Grilled)
Chicken McNuggets (4 Piece)
High Protein Sides at McDonald's
Although few of the options for sides at McDonald's contain high protein levels, there are several options. Most of these options are non-traditional sides (sorry, you won't find french fries on the list).
However, these are the best options on the menu if you're looking to get a decent amount of protein in your meal. These options are all 250 calories or less, with at least 8 grams of protein. My personal favorite side is the 4 piece Chicken McNuggets. They have fewer calories than a small order of fries, and they have a lot more protein.
Healthier Options at McDonald's
You'll notice that the options in this article consist primarily of chicken and salads topped with chicken. Chicken is one of the leanest, protein-packed options available at McDonald's.
As a general rule of thumb, your best bet is to order grilled chicken options, whether you get a wrap, a sandwich, or a salad. If you're set on getting a burger, there are a few options that contain protein without a lot of calories.
To save even more calories on the options below, you could consider omitting additional sauces like mayo. Omitting cheese will save you some calories but can also cut the protein slightly, as cheese contains dairy and thus contains protein.
- McDonald's Nutrition Calculator: Calories and More
Check out our Nutrition Calculator to find McDonald’s calorie counts and nutrition facts for all of your favorite menu items.
- McDonald's Nutritional Facts PDF
Want to print out a handy cheat sheet for calories, proteins, and fats? Here is your guide.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Anna B. (author) on June 20, 2014:
Ha! Very true, Gangsta!
Gangsta on April 17, 2014:
If It Fits Your Macros ;-)
Anna B. (author) on March 17, 2014:
The premium chicken salad is definitely one of the best choices! Thanks for sharing!
Zimkhitha from South Africa on March 17, 2014:
The only two things I order at McDonalds if I'm watching what I eat is the premium chicken salad and water. I must say though that restaurants are becoming more accommodating by offering some healthy options.