Eating at Mcdonald’s When Bulking or Cutting (6 Meals)

McDonald’s offers a convenient meal option but it’s important to know what meals best align with your weight loss or muscle gain goals. 

So what should you eat at McDonald’s if you work out? If you are losing weight, a chicken sandwich without butter/mayo is a high protein and moderate fat meal. If you are bulking, a double quarter pounder with no cheese is a high protein/carb meal. You should avoid fries as they are 350 calories with minimal protein.

In this article, I will provide:

  • 3 meal options for what to eat at McDonald’s to lose weight
  • 3 meal options for what to eat at McDonald’s when bulking
  • My top 3 tips for eating at McDonald’s both before and after your workout

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What to Eat at McDonald’s to Lose Weight: 3 Meal Options

Three meal options to order at McDonald’s to lose weight are:

1. 450 Calorie McDonald’s Cutting Meal Plan

450 calorie weight loss mcdonald’s meal plan
  • Order a crispy chicken sandwich with no butter
  • Do not add french fries

This meal has 423 calories with 27g of protein (26%), 45g of carbohydrates (43%) and 15g of fat (32%).

By not ordering french fries with your meal, you are saving yourself 350 calories, 46g of carbohydrates and 17g of fat. Fries are a low volume food, meaning they won’t physically fill you up very much, combined with minimal protein, this is an easy way to reduce total calories without missing out on nutrients or feeling hungry later.

By removing butter from the chicken sandwich, the fat is reduced by 5 grams and 45 calories. Since the sandwich already contains a fat source from the chicken, we want to remove the second fat source of the butter. This will ensure we have enough fat to feel full after our meal, without increasing the calories too significantly. 

Pre & post-workout customizations

If you are planning to eat this meal before or after a workout, removing the butter is highly recommended. This will keep the fat in your meal lower and leave you with more energy for your workout. With this modification, this meal makes for a great higher carb meal around your workout.

2. 650 Calorie McDonald’s Cutting Meal Plan

650 calorie weight loss mcdonald’s meal plan
  • Order a double quarter pounder with no cheese
  • Do not add french fries

This meal has 638 calories with 43g of protein (27%), 40g of carbohydrates (25%) and 34g of fat (48%).

By selecting the double quarter pounder, you are doubling the amount of meat you are consuming without adding a second bun. This helps boost the fat and protein without adding unnecessary carbs. You will find that the higher fat and protein will keep you feeling full and satisfied much longer after you eat. This will make sticking to the lower calories required to lose weight, much easier. 

While fat is important to include in our meals to ensure we feel full and satisfied, it is generally low in volume so quickly to add significant calories. Given that, we want to limit it to one fat source per meal. The burger patties contain fat therefore we want to remove the cheese, this will leave us feeling full without adding unnecessary calories. 

Pre & post-workout customizations

This meal has 34g of fat, therefore it is not the best meal option to eat before or after a workout. We want to stick with a lower fat option to help you feel more energized and ready to tackle an intense gym session. Instead, I recommend a McChicken without mayonnaise. A second sandwich can be added based on calorie needs.

3. 850 Calorie McDonald’s Cutting Meal Plan

850 calorie weight loss mcdonald’s meal plan
  • Order a McDouble with no cheese
  • Order a crispy chicken sandwich with no butter
  • Order 4 chicken nuggets
  • Do not add french fries 

This meal has 937 calories with 56g of protein (24%), 86g of carbohydrates (37%) and 41g of fat (39%). 

Both the crispy chicken sandwich and the McDouble have a relatively even mix of protein, carbs and fat. This even mix is ideal when losing weight as it will keep you feeling satisfied but also energized after each meal. Removing the cheese and butter is key to keeping that ratio equal and helps to cut down additional calories within the meal.

Adding the chicken nuggets boosts the meal’s calories by 170 but primarily from protein and fat. Both protein and fat contribute to the feeling of being full and satisfied after you eat. Since you are eating less calories when losing weight, if we can be strategic and add calories from food that will keep you full, it will make the experience much more comfortable. 

Pre & post-workout customizations

If you are planning to eat this meal around your workout, I recommend excluding the chicken nuggets in order to keep protein and fat more moderate in our pre and post-workout meal. This will allow for our body to use the carbs from our meal as a quick energy source keeping you feeling energized and peppy throughout your workout.  

What to Eat at McDonald’s When Bulking: 3 Meal Options

Three meal options to eat at McDonald’s when bulking are:

1. 700 Calorie McDonald’s Bulking Meal Plan

700 calorie bulking mcdonald’s meal plan
  • Order two McDoubles with no cheese
  • Do not add french fries

This meal has 696 calories with 40g of protein (23%), 62g of carbohydrates (36%) and 32g of fat (41%).

Order a second McDouble, you will increase the calories by 350 from a relatively even mix of protein, carbohydrates and fat which is considered a healthy balance. Removing the cheese helps to keep the fat from getting too high which is likely to reduce your appetite throughout the remainder of the day making it challenging to get in the high calories needed when bulking. 

Pre & post-workout customizations

If you are planning on eating this meal around a workout, I recommend ordering a hamburger instead of a second McDouble. This will help to reduce the protein and fat to a moderate amount while still keeping the carbs high. What this means in practice is your body will be able to use those carbs quickly, without being slowed down by extra protein and fat, so you feel energized throughout your workout. 

2. 900 Calorie McDonald’s Bulking Meal Plan

900 calorie bulking mcdonald’s meal plan
  • Order two crispy chicken sandwiches with no butter
  • Do not add french fries

This meal has 846 calories with 54g of protein (26%), 90g of carbohydrates (43%) and 30g of fat (32%).

Adding a second cripsy chicken sandwich will double your meal’s calories while maintaining a relatively even mix of protein, carbohydrates and fat. From a health perspective, this is a much better approach than increasing your calories strictly from a carbohydrate and fat only source like french fries. 

Pre & post-workout customizations

If you are planning to eat this meal before your workout, I recommend ordering a hamburger as your second sandwich. While the crispy chicken sandwich has a ratio of protein, carbs and fat that is ideal for before your workout, 900 calories is often too heavy to eat before a workout and will lead to you feeling lethargic. 

If you are eating this post-workout, sticking with two crispy chicken sandwiches is best. This will keep the calories high, which is needed when bulking, but won’t weigh you down throughout your gym session potentially impeding performance. 

3. 1,100 Calorie McDonald’s Bulking Meal Plan

1,100 calorie bulking mcdonald’s meal plan
  • Order a double quarter pounder no cheese 
  • Order a crispy chicken sandwich with no butter
  • Do not add french fries

This meal has 1,061 calories with 70g of protein (26%), 85g of carbohydrates (32%) and 49g of fat (42%).

Adding a crispy chicken sandwich adds 425 calories and an additional 27g of protein. Keeping the protein high when increasing calories will help ensure your body has enough protein to make the improvements in strength and increased muscle mass you are looking for when bulking.

By ordering the sandwiches without cheese and butter, you are reducing the total fat in a meal. High fat meals lead to a really full feeling after you eat, this is not ideal when bulking as it will make eating calories later in the day more difficult. 

Pre & post-workout customizations

If you are planning to eat this meal before your workout, you may want to consider the 700 or 900 calorie meal options as this much food pre-workout often leaves you feeling slow and less energized. Similar to that sleepy feeling post-Thanksgiving dinner. 

This meal would be a good option post-workout however it is recommended to ensure you are ordering the sandwiches without butter or cheese. These toppings are high in fat, something we want to keep lower after our workout to allow for our bodies to recover.

Tips for Eating at McDonald’s Before a Workout

What you eat pre-workout will provide you with the fuel needed throughout your workout. For anyone looking to optimize their performance in the gym, your pre-workout meal should be a key consideration. 

Should you eat at McDonald’s before a workout? Yes, you should eat at McDonald’s before a workout. The McChicken with no mayonnaise provides a high carbohydrate, moderate protein and fat meal that is ideal pre-workout. Ordering a second sandwich is a good option if you need more calories. 

Read more in my article Can You Eat Fried Food Before And After Workouts?

3 Tips for How to Eat at McDonald’s Before a Workout

My top 3 tips for how to eat at McDonald’s before a workout are:

1. Order a sandwich 

Pre-workout, you want to be eating a meal that is high in carbs since these are a quick energy source for your body. You’ll find with the additional carbs, you’ll feel energized throughout your working, allowing you to push those heavier weights needed to see progress.

You want to aim for two servings of carbs, with a serving being about the size of your closed fist. At McDonald’s, the best option is a sandwich bun.

I’ve found eating my higher carb meal between 1 and 2 hours before my workout is best.

Related Article: 11 Best Low-Sodium McDonald’s Meals (How To Customize Order)

2. Order a meal with chicken as the protein source

Before our workout, we want to limit how much fat we are eating. Fat is a slower energy source than carbs so it won’t leave us feeling as energized during our workout.

Chicken is a leaner protein source than beef, making it the best option pre-workout at McDonald’s.

3. Order your meal without cheese, butter and mayonnaise/dressing

Cheese, butter and mayonnaise/dressing are all high in fat. Around our workout we want to keep the fats low and get our energy from carbs instead. If you are consuming a lot of fat pre-workout you are likely to find you don’t have the energy needed for a big training session.

By excluding these items from your order, you will reduce the quantity of fat consumed pre-workout. 

Want to learn more about fats before pre-workout? Check out Should You Eat Fat Before A Workout? (No, Here’s Why)

Tips for Eating at McDonald’s After a Workout

Your post-workout meal is just as important as your pre-workout meal when it comes to maximizing gym performance. This meal will kick-start the process of repairing the muscle damaged during your workout, which is needed for increased strength and muscular growth.

Should you eat at McDonald’s after a workout? Yes, you should eat at McDonald’s after a workout. The crispy chicken with no butter provides a high carbohydrate and protein and moderate fat meal that is ideal post-workout. Ordering a McChicken sandwich with no mayo is a good option if you need more calories.

Want to learn more about fats after a workout? Check out Should You Eat Fat After A Workout? (No, Here’s Why)

3 Tips for How to Eat at McDonald’s After a Workout

My top 3 tips for how to eat at McDonald’s after a workout are:

1. Choose a sandwhich over a burger

Throughout your workout, your body will use up most of its stored fuel. We want to replenish this right away so our body kick starts the process of repairing our muscles post-workout. This process of damaging and repairing muscles is what will lead to growth so this is a priority. 

Eating carbohydrates is what will refuel us and start this process of repair and growth. 

You want to aim for at least two servings of carbs, with a serving being about the size of your closed fist. At McDonald’s, the best option is a sandwich bun.

I’ve found eating my higher carb meal within 1 to 1.5 hours after my workout is best.

2. Order a meal with chicken rather than beef

Protein is the other nutrient that we need post-workout, it is what our body will use to actually repair our muscles. 

While we want lots of carbs and protein, we want to limit how much fat we are eating. Fat will slow down how quickly we are able to absorb these nutrients and start the process of muscular growth.

Chicken is the leanest protein source at McDonald’s, making it the best option post-workout.

3. Order your meal without cheese, butter and sauces

Post-workout, it is important we keep the fat we eat minimal. Fat is slow for our body to digest which makes it more difficult for our body to use the carbs and protein we need it to. 

Think of it like carbs and protein are cars that are racing along a highway to get the destination of our muscles. Fat is a traffic jam that slows how quickly they can get where they need to be.  

At McDonald’s, the highest sources of fat are cheese, butter and sauces. By excluding these items from your order, you will reduce the quantity of fat consumed post-workout. 

Comparing McDonald’s

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions for eating at McDonald’s if you workout. 

Can I Eat at McDonald’s and Still Lose Weight?

Yes, you can eat at McDonald’s and still lose weight. To lose weight, the most important factor is creating a caloric deficit but eating fewer calories than burned. McDonald’s menu has some lower-calorie options, such as a hamburger or a McChicken with no mayo, that make it possible to maintain a caloric deficit.

Can I Eat at McDonald’s and Still Gain Muscle?

Yes, you can eat at McDonald’s and still gain muscle. To gain muscle, sufficient protein post-workout is needed to provide your muscles with what it needs to repair and grow. McDonald’s double quarter pounder provides over 40g per serving and a second can be ordered depending on your caloric needs.

What Meal at McDonald’s has the Most Protein?

The meal at McDonald’s with the most protein is the double quarter pounder BLT. This meal has 890 calories, 52g of protein, 44g of carbohydrates and 56g of fat. 

What Meal at McDonald’s has the Most Calories?

The meal at McDonald’s with the most calories is the double quarter pounder with cheese and large french fries. This meal has 1,230 calories, 55g of protein, 109g of carbohydrates and 65g of fat.

Which Meal at McDonald’s has the Least Calories

The meal at McDonald’s that has the least calories is the hamburger. This meal has 250 calories, 12g of protein, 31g of carbohydrates and 9g of fat.

Let’s get you in the best shape of your life. Sounds good?

More Fast Food Meal Plans

Check out our other bulking and cutting meal plans from popular fast-food restaurants:


About The Author

Laura Semotiuk

Laura Semotiuk is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She works with athletes and active individuals looking to improve performance and develop healthy nutritional habits and behaviors. She has a passion for cooking, meal prepping, and creating simple and healthy recipes.