The 16 Best High-Protein Restaurant Chain Meals

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Protein is a popular nutrient for numerous reasons. Many associate it with weight loss, while others track their intake to support muscle gain goals. Both outcomes are possible with a high-protein diet, but how easy is it to meet a high-protein goal while eating out? When you make your meals at home, it is much easier to meet calorie and nutrient targets, including protein, than going out to eat. However, with a little planning, it’s also possible to reach high protein numbers when eating at restaurants.

If you’re headed to one of America’s most popular restaurant chains with protein goals in mind, you can hit your targets. From Olive Garden to Outback Steakhouse, each restaurant has high-protein dishes to meet your needs. When looking for high-protein restaurant meals, keep other nutrient goals in mind. High-protein meals often come with high calories, fat, and carbs.

To keep the protein content high while managing the overall nutrition of your meal, choose a menu option with grilled, roasted, seared, or baked proteins instead of fried. Limit meals with high added sugar content, and try incorporating fruit or vegetables into each meal. Read on for the best high-protein meals you can order at 16 popular restaurant chains.

Chili’s: Classic Sirloin With Avocado

chili's classic sirloin with avocado and roasted asparaguschili's classic sirloin with avocado and roasted asparagus

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 510
Fat: 26 g (Saturated fat: 7 g)
Sodium: 1,310 mg
Carbs: 13 g (Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 3 g)
Protein: 60 g

While the baby back ribs may catch your attention on the menu, they aren’t the best source of protein. The 10-ounce sirloin with avocado provides a whopping 60 grams of protein and only 510 calories. This is a reasonable number of calories for most people, but if it is on the high end for you, scale back to 5 to 8 ounces of steak and save the rest for another meal. This meal is also low in carbs and offers decent fiber, thanks to the avocado.

 11 Unhealthiest Dishes to Order at Chili’s

Olive Garden: Grilled Chicken Margherita

Olive Garden Grilled Chicken MargheritaOlive Garden Grilled Chicken Margherita
Olive Garden

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 650
Fat: 39 g (Saturated fat: 11 g)
Sodium: 2,120 mg
Carbs: 15 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 65 g

You may think of Italian restaurants as a mecca of carbs with little protein. However, Olive Garden has several high-protein options. Most come with sky-high calories, but Olive Garden’s grilled chicken margherita is a good balance of protein for the calories. You’ll also get 5 grams of filling fiber and minimal added sugar. Unfortunately, sodium is high, but that is a hard metric to keep low at a restaurant. Just be mindful of your salt intake for the rest of the day to balance out the sodium in this meal.

 12 Healthiest Dishes To Order at Olive Garden

Ruby Tuesday: Grilled Salmon

Ruby Tuesday Grilled SalmonRuby Tuesday Grilled Salmon
Ruby Tuesday

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 540
Fat: 25 g (Saturated fat: 7 g)
Sodium: 1,360 mg
Carbs: 36 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 2 g)
Protein: 45 g

Fish is generally a lean source of protein. While salmon does provide more fat content than other fish varieties, it also contains essential omega-3 fats. This gives it an advantage over other lean proteins, like poultry. This dish provides a reasonable number of calories, plenty of protein, and anti-inflammatory fats.  Fiber is on the low end in this meal, so consider swapping the side of white rice for a double portion of veggies. This will also lower calories without taking away much protein.

TGI Fridays: Two 5-Ounce Grilled Chicken Breasts

TGI Fridays Two 5oz Grilled Chicken BreastsTGI Fridays Two 5oz Grilled Chicken Breasts
TGI Fridays

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 250
Fat: 10 g (Saturated fat: 2.5 g)
Sodium: 810 mg
Carbs: 3 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 40 g

The base of this meal is two chicken breasts. This allows it to pack 40 grams of protein, not counting the side items you choose. For only 250 calories, you get plenty of protein in a single meal, and most people will have calories to spare to round out their dish. A salad and veggie side would be good selections to incorporate more fiber into your meal. Skip the sauce that comes with the chicken, as it provides empty calories.

 10 Best & Worst Menu Items at TGI Fridays, According to Dietitians

Cheesecake Factory: Grilled Steak Medallions

Cheesecake Factory Grilled Steak MedallionsCheesecake Factory Grilled Steak Medallions
Cheesecake Factory

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 440
Fat: 19 g (Saturated fat: 10 g)
Sodium: 1,320 mg
Carbs: 24 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 45 g

The Cheesecake Factory menu can be intimidating with many choices, but it has a lower-calorie section that serves as a good starting point. A meal under 600 calories doesn’t have to sacrifice protein, and these steak medallions prove that by providing 45 grams of protein in a 440-calorie dish. This meal comes with veggies and mashed potatoes, allowing it to also provide 4 grams of fiber. Swap the potatoes for extra veg for even more filling fiber in this meal.

 10 Unhealthiest Menu Items at The Cheesecake Factory

Applebee’s: Grilled Chicken Breast

applebees grilled chickenapplebees grilled chicken

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 550
Fat: 22 g (Saturated fat: 8 g)
Sodium: 1,730 mg
Carbs: 43 g (Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 5 g)
Protein: 48 g

A simple chicken breast is a reasonable choice when you are looking for protein. Keeping it simple is a good rule of thumb when choosing meals at a restaurant. The more sauce, toppings, and indulgent items in a dish, the more calories it will likely provide. This grilled chicken breast meal keeps it extra simple by combining lean grilled meat with two sides. Mashed potatoes and broccoli create a balanced meal that packs 6 grams of fiber and nearly 50 grams of protein at 550 calories.

 The 10 Unhealthiest Menu Items at Applebee’s, According to Dietitians

Red Robin: Ensenada Chicken Platter

Red Robin Ensenada Chicken PlatterRed Robin Ensenada Chicken Platter
Red Robin

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 400
Fat: 14 g (Saturated fat: 3.5 g)
Sodium: 2,360 mg
Carbs: 13 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 57 g

Another chicken dish, this option gives you plenty of bang for your buck. At 400 calories, it provides an amount that will work for a variety of energy needs and more than 50 grams of protein. A bed of lettuce offers fiber and valuable vitamins and minerals to make for a filling meal. If you want to scale fat grams back, swap the ranch dressing for additional salsa and use it as your dressing.

PF Chang’s: Chicken With Broccoli

PF Chang's Chicken with BroccoliPF Chang's Chicken with Broccoli
PF Chang’s

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 240
Fat: 7 g (Saturated fat: 1.5g)
Sodium: 650 mg
Carbs: 15 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 10 g)
Protein: 30 g

Many popular proteins at Chinese restaurants are fried, like sesame and sweet and sour chicken. However, this ginger chicken dish is loaded with flavor and is pan-cooked in oil instead of the fryer. This makes it low in fat and calories while providing 30 grams of filling protein. This nutrition count includes the broccoli it is served with, but not the rice. Incorporating brown rice into this dish will boost carbs, calories, and fiber in your meal. Just make sure to choose a portion that suits your energy needs.

 The Best & Worst P.F. Chang’s Orders, According to a Dietitian

Red Lobster: Grilled Rainbow Trout

Grilled Rainbow Trout at Red LobsterGrilled Rainbow Trout at Red Lobster
Red Lobster

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 550
Fat: 29 g (Saturated fat: 6 g)
Sodium: 730 mg
Carbs: 1 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 68 g

Trout is another source of lean protein. Although it doesn’t provide the same omega-3 content as salmon, it is still a great source of muscle-building protein. At 68 grams, this meal provides more than enough protein. Unfortunately, the 550-calorie count is only for the fish and does not include the side items you choose. To keep calories within your goals, skip the fish skin and choose vegetable sides that are likely to provide fewer calories than starchy and fried options.

 The 9 Healthiest Dishes to Order at Red Lobster

Denny’s: Fit Slam

Denny's fit slamDenny's fit slam

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 450
Fat: 12 g (Saturated fat: 2.5 g)
Sodium: 860 mg
Carbs: 59 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 22 g)
Protein: 27 g

Denny’s offers numerous breakfast, lunch, and dinner items, but this Fit Slam is one of the chain’s best protein sources. It provides a reasonable number of calories, is relatively low in saturated fat, and packs fiber. Don’t let the sugar content scare you off. This dish comes with a side of fruit, which contains natural sugar, but minimal added sugar is in the meal.

 The Best & Worst Menu Items at Denny’s, According to Dietitians

Outback Steakhouse: Center-Cut Sirloin

Outback Steakhouse 6 oz. Outback Center-Cut SirloinOutback Steakhouse 6 oz. Outback Center-Cut Sirloin
Outback Steakhouse

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 350
Fat: 23 g (Saturated fat: 6 g)
Sodium: 380 mg
Carbs: 0 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 38 g

This lean, 5-ounce cut of steak is an excellent protein option at Outback Steakhouse. Fattier cuts of meat, like rib-eye and prime rib, can provide nearly as much fat as protein, making them less ideal. However, sirloin and filet are leaner cuts with a more favorable protein-to-fat ratio. Just like all of the other meals on this list, choose a veggie side to incorporate more fiber into this meal. The steak also comes with a baked potato, which you could enjoy or swap for seasonal or mixed veggies for a more nutrient-packed meal.

 10 Unhealthiest Menu Items at Outback Steakhouse

Hooters: Steamed Shrimp – 1/2 Pound

Hooters Half Pound Steamed ShrimpHooters Half Pound Steamed Shrimp

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 360
Fat: 25 g (Saturated fat:15 g)
Sodium: 3,410 mg
Carbs: 13 g (Fiber: 3 g , Sugar 10 g)
Protein: 24 g

Similar to fish, shrimp is a lean source of protein. It may not provide the omega-3 fats, but it does contain plenty of protein for a relatively low-calorie count. The nutrition facts of this meal include a butter dipping sauce. To drastically lower the fat and calories in this dish, skip the butter and enjoy the shrimp with a squeeze of lemon. To make this meal even more balanced, split the entrée with someone and add a side salad to your portion.

 The Best & Worst Menu Items at Hooters, According to a Dietitian

Texas Roadhouse: Dallas Filet

Texas Roadhouse Dallas FiletTexas Roadhouse Dallas Filet
Texas Roadhouse

Nutrition (Per 6-ounce order):
Calories: 270
Fat: 10 g (Saturated fat: 4 g)
Sodium: 720 mg
Carbs: 6 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 2 g)
Protein: 45 g

This lean steak is your best bet for protein at Texas Roadhouse. For 270 calories, you get an impressive 45 grams of protein and only 10 grams of fat. This is a great ratio of nutrients and allows you plenty of room to build a well-rounded meal with two sides. The steamed veggies, green beans, and side salad make great options. You can even enjoy its famous roll for a little more than 100 calories without the butter.

 The #1 Healthiest Order at Texas Roadhouse, According to a Dietitian

California Pizza Kitchen: Lettuce Wraps With Chicken

California Pizza Kitchen Lettuce Wraps with ChickenCalifornia Pizza Kitchen Lettuce Wraps with Chicken
California Pizza Kitchen/Facebook

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 570
Fat: 26 g (Saturated fat: 3 g)
Sodium: 3,660 mg
Carbs: 45 g (Fiber: 7 g, Sugar: 31 g)
Protein: 40 g

You may not think of a pizza place as a good option for high-protein meals, but the chicken lettuce wraps at CPK provide 40 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber for only 570 calories. Skip the lettuce wrap sauce to save significant calories and grams of sugar without compromising other nutrients. Sodium is high in this dish, but skipping the sauce will lower this number, and you can be mindful of sodium for the rest of the day to balance it out.

 The Best & Worst Menu Items at California Pizza Kitchen, According to Dietitians

IHOP: Build Your Own Omelette

IHOP Build Your Own OmeletteIHOP Build Your Own Omelette

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 400
Fat: 28 g (Saturated fat: 8 g)
Sodium: 440 mg
Carbs: 8 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: <1 g)
Protein: 28 g

The pancakes IHOP is known for may not pack protein, but building your own omelet can get the job done. Their base omelet comes with egg and cheese for only 400 calories and 28 grams of protein. This doesn’t account for any sides, so if this is at the top of your calorie budget, skip the cheese and load your eggs with veggies and lean protein, like ham. This will open up your calorie budget to make room for dry toast and fruit.

 The 10 Best & Worst Orders at IHOP, According to Nutritionists

LongHorn Steakhouse: LongHorn Salmon

longhorn steakhouse longhorn salmonlonghorn steakhouse longhorn salmon
LongHorn Steakhouse

Nutrition (Per order):
Calories: 300
Fat: 16 g (Saturated fat: 3 g)
Sodium: 310 mg
Carbs: 2 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 33 g

Another fish option, this 7-ounce salmon packs plenty of protein at 33 grams. You’ll get those essential fats and only 310 mg of sodium, making it the lowest sodium content on our list. The dish comes with rice for an additional 230 calories, and you can choose a vegetable side, like the broccoli, for a fiber-packed meal.