- Insider asked nutritionists what to order from KFC for a high-protein meal.
- US adults are advised to eat 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
- Nutritionists have also told Insider what to order at other chains, including McDonald’s.
Nutritionists tell Insider that KFC isn’t often associated with healthy food, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a nutritious meal with a good amount of protein from there.
If you want to lose fat, build or maintain muscle, and perform well athletically, eating enough protein is essential because it helps muscles recover after workouts and keeps you feeling full.
US adults are advised to eat 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, but active people may need more to help with muscle growth and repair.
Registered nutritionist Uta Boellinger told Insider that she doesn’t advocate dietary restriction or demonizing food, so there’s nothing wrong with the occasional KFC.
“Food isn’t just nutrition, it’s also a way to celebrate, socialize, and much more,” he said.
Nutritionists and dietitians have previously told Insider what to order at McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Subway, and other popular fast food chains.
Here’s what three registered nutritionists told Insider to order a high-protein meal at KFC.
Dr Mike Molloy: Spicy Classic Chicken Sandwich
Molloy, founder of sports nutrition company M2 Performance Nutrition, told Insider that even though he hasn’t been to KFC in years, he knows what to get: the Spicy Classic Chicken Sandwich.
Molloy says she’ll choose it because it contains “good protein,” “is not brutal on fat intake,” and “the donut contains just the right amount of carbs for its nutritional goals.
KFC Spicy Classic Chicken Sandwich contains 620 calories, 33 grams of fat, 49 grams of carbohydrates and 34 grams of protein.
“I would probably pair it with a diet soda because fried spicy chicken and soda go so well together,” Molloy said.
Jaclyn London: Chicken legs, green beans, corn and mashed potatoes
Registered dietitian Jaclyn London told Insider she’ll be ordering a la carte items from KFC because it’s “a big sucker for the parties.”
“I’d start with one to two chicken legs (this cut is more juicy than chicken breast, but nutritious and full of protein) and then add a side of green beans, corn, and if I’m going with one. I’d add mashed potatoes or coleslaw on the side if anyone else wanted to share.” said London.
With a chicken leg and a serving of mashed potatoes, London’s order is 770 calories, 42 grams of fat, 55 grams of carbohydrates and 43 grams of protein. Green beans contain 25 calories and corn contains 70 calories.
“Corn and potatoes are also vegetables,” London said. “When you have the opportunity to add more vegetables to your meal, it becomes more nutritious and satisfying – remember that!”
Alix Turoff: Kentucky Grilled Chicken with sides and a cookie
Registered dietitian Alix Turoff recommended Kentucky Grilled Chicken as a high protein option.
A Kentucky Grilled Chicken Breast contains 210 calories, seven grams of fat, 0 carbohydrates and 38 grams of protein, compared to an Original Recipe Chicken Breast which has 390 calories, 21 grams of fat, 11 grams of carbohydrates and 39 grams of protein.
“If you’re trying to get the most bang for your buck in terms of calories, lower-calorie side options include corn (70 calories), green beans (25 calories), and sweet kernel corn (70 calories),” Turof said. “Medium-calorie sides include macaroni and cheese. (140 calories), pasta salad (140 calories), mashed potatoes (110 calories), and mashed potatoes with sauce (130 calories).”
Turoff also recommended KFC’s side salads: Caesar salad (14 calories) and house salad (15 calories without dressing). Sauce options range from 15 calories for a light Italian dressing to 260 calories for a creamy Parmesan Caesar dressing.
“For dessert, a chocolate chip cookie is a nice way to end up with something sweet for 120 calories (versus 300 calories in their muffins/pies),” Turoff said.