Eating at Popeye’s When Bulking (6 Bodybuilding Meals)

While there are many great meal options at Popeye’s for bodybuilders and people who are looking to bulk, I wouldn’t recommend Popeye’s for either your pre or post-workout meal.  

I’ll get into the details on why below, but so long as your meal timing doesn’t fall around your workout, there are still many great bulking meals at Popeye’s to enjoy.    

So what should you eat at Popeye’s when bulking? If you are looking for a bulking meal between 600 – 950 calories at Popeye’s, I recommend a two or three-piece signature chicken meal as the best choice. For a meal higher than 1,000 calories, add chicken tenders and a side to your order.  

In this article, I will provide:

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

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What To Eat at Popeye’s If You’re A Bodybuilder: 6 Meal Options  

Six meal options to order at Popeye’s when bodybuilding or bulking are:

1. 600 Calorie Popeye’s Bulking Meal Plan 

600 calorie bulking popeye's meal plan
  • Order a two-piece chicken meal with a breast and wing
  • Do not add a side 

This meal has 594 calories, 48g protein (32%), 24g carbohydrates (16%) and 34g fat (52%).

The signature chicken will create a meal that is high in protein and fat. 

When bulking, getting sufficient protein at each meal is important so your body has what it needs to recover and repair muscles after your workout. This is what will lead to increased muscle mass and strength.

Also when bulking, fat is beneficial to include in meals as it’s low in volume. 

This means that the food takes up less physical space in your stomach for the calories you are eating. Think of food like peanut butter, a spoonful can be hundreds of calories. This will reduce the feeling of being constantly full, making it more comfortable to eat higher calories. 

Customizations for increased calories

  • Adding a dipping sauce for your chicken will add between 40 – 150 calories. The three dipping sauces with the highest calories are buttermilk ranch (150 calories), tartar (140 calories) and blackened ranch (118 calories).
  • Adding a side to your meal will also further increase calories. Rice and beans are the highest protein option with 16g and 264 calories. Corn is the best high carb option for around a workout (190 calories and 34g of carbs). 

Options For Pre & Post Workout

This meal is an adequate option to eat pre or post-workout, however, since all the options at Popeyes are battered and deep-fried, it’s not the most optimal option. 

If you are eating this around a workout, order a breast and leg and do not include additional sauces. This will help to reduce the fat in the meal, so our body can get energy primarily from carbs giving you a bigger burst of energy during your workout.

I also recommend adding a side of corn or mashed potatoes to provide additional carbs, and energy, for your workout. 

2. 750 Calorie Popeye’s Bulking Meal Plan 

750 calorie bulking popeye's meal plan
  • Order a three piece chicken meal with a breast, wing and leg
  • Do not add a side 

This meal has 751 calories, 62g protein (33%), 29g carbohydrates (15%), and 43g fat (52%).

Adding a leg to your meal boosts the protein by 14g. Additionally, it will add fat to your meal. Fat is helpful when bulking as it takes up very little physical space in our stomach for the calories you are eating. Many people struggle to eat enough when bulking since they are constantly feeling full, adding fat to your meals will help to decrease this sensation.  

While adding a side would increase the meal’s calories, it is primarily from carbs and fat as sides at Popeye’s have between 3-9g per serving. When bulking, I recommend aiming for meals that have 30 – 35% of their calories coming from protein. This will ensure you have sufficient protein to allow for muscle and strength growth. 

Customizations for increased calories

  • Adding a dipping sauce for your chicken will add 40 – 150 calories. The dipping sauces with the highest calories are buttermilk ranch (150 calories), tartar (140 calories) and blackened ranch (118 calories).
  • Adding a side to your meal will also further increase calories. Rice and beans is the best high protein option with 16g and 264 calories. Corn is the best high carb option for a workout (190 calories and 34g of carbs). 

Options For Pre & Post Workout

This meal is an ok option to eat pre or post-workout, however, since all the options at Popeyes are battered and deep-fried, it will not provide the most optimal option. 

If you are eating this before a workout, order a two-piece meal with a breast and leg. Do not include additional sauces. This will reduce some of the fat in the meal, making it easier for your body to get energy from carbs and keeping you energized throughout your workout. 

If you are eating this after a workout, order a three-piece meal with a breast and two legs. 

I also recommend adding a side of corn or mashed potatoes to provide additional carbs, and energy, for your workout. 

3. 850 Calorie Popeye’s Bulking Meal Plan 

850 calorie bulking popeye's meal plan
  • Order a three piece chicken meal with a breast, wing and leg
  • Add a side of mashed potatoes  

This meal has 871 calories, 65g protein (30%), 47g carbohydrates (22%) and 47g fat (49%).

The three-piece chicken meal provides a high protein and high fat option but minimal carbs. A side of mashed potatoes will add primarily carbs, creating a meal that is a relatively even mix of protein, carbs and fat. 

When bulking, getting an even mix of macronutrients from a meal is ideal as you get the benefits of each. You will ensure you’re getting sufficient protein to build muscle, feel energized throughout the day from the carbs and add lower volume calories from the fat so you don’t feel as physically full.  

Customizations for increased calories

  • Adding a dipping sauce for your chicken will add 40 – 150 calories, extra dipping sauce can be added for additional calories. The dipping sauces that have the most calories per serving are buttermilk ranch (150 calories), tartar (140 calories) and blackened ranch (118 calories).

Options For Pre & Post Workout

Popeye’s chicken is all battered and deep-fried, making it high in fat. This makes it an alright meal option for around a workout but it is not optimal. 

If you are planning to eat this meal before a workout, I recommend ordering a two-piece meal with a breast and leg. After a workout, I would add in the third piece but opt for a second leg if possible. 

I also recommend adding a second side of either corn on the cob or more mashed potatoes. This will help to further increase the carbs so you have more energy available during your workout. 

4. 1,000 Calorie Popeye’s Bulking Meal Plan

1000 calorie bulking popeye's meal plan
  • Order a three piece chicken meal with a breast, wing and thigh
  • Add a side of mashed potatoes  

This meal has 987 calories, 65g protein (26%), 49g carbohydrates (20%), and 59g fat (54%).

Opting for a thigh instead of a wing boosts the meal’s calories by 116 while maintaining a relatively similar macronutrient mix. This keeps the mix of carbs, fat, and protein in the meal relatively even.

When bulking, this even mix is important and there are things you need from each that will make the process more comfortable and successful. Sufficient protein will ensure your body can repair post-workout, allowing for muscle growth. Carbs will provide energy for your day and fat will provide low volume calories so you don’t feel too physically full.

Customizations for increased calories

  • Adding a dipping sauce for your chicken can add an additional 40 – 150 calories. The dipping sauces that have the most calories per serving are buttermilk ranch (150 calories), tartar (140 calories) and blackened ranch (118 calories). If you are looking for even more calories, ask for extra sauce.

Options For Pre & Post Workout

This meal is too high in calories and fat to make for an optimal meal pre or post-workout. I recommend opting for a lower-calorie meal plan instead. A meal this high in calories will leave you feeling lethargic and likely cause digestive discomfort, neither of which is likely to lead to a strong workout.

5. 1,150 Calorie Popeye’s Bulking Meal Plan 

1,150 calorie bulking popeye's meal plan
  • Order a two piece chicken meal with a breast and wing
  • Add three piece chicken tenders
  • Add a side of mashed potatoes

This meal has 1,171 calories, 89g protein (30%), 71g carbohydrates (24%) and 59g fat (45%).

Adding chicken tenders to your meal is a way to increase the protein in your meal, without increasing the fat as much as a piece of signature chicken would. Since the meal already has two pieces of signature chicken, there is already plenty of fat in the meal. Adding too much fat is likely to cause digestive discomfort which should be avoided.

Keeping protein within your meal high is also important when bulking. Protein is what your body will use to recover and repair muscles after a workout. Without proper repair, your muscles will not grow and strength will not increase so consuming adequate protein is a priority. 

Customizations for increased calories

  • Adding a dipping sauce for both your chicken and chicken tenders can add an additional 80 – 300 calories. The dipping sauces that have the most calories per serving are buttermilk ranch (150 calories), tartar (140 calories) and blackened ranch (118 calories). 

Options For Pre & Post Workout

I do not recommend eating this meal before or after a workout as it is too high in calories and fat. A meal this high in calories is likely to lead to that sleepy ‘food coma’ feeling many experiences after a large meal like Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. A lower calories meal plan would make for a better option.

6. 1,450 Calorie Popeye’s Bulking Meal Plan 

1,450 calorie bulking popeye's meal plan
  • Order a chicken sandwich 
  • Add a loaded chicken wrap 
  • Add a three piece chicken tenders

This meal has 1,451 calories, 80g protein (22%), 114g carbohydrates (31%) and 75g fat (47%).

Both the chicken sandwich and chicken wrap are higher carb options compared to the signature chicken. Adding in some more carbs, when calories are this high, can help to provide energy without increasing the fat too much to the point where it is digestively not comfortable.

This meal has sufficient protein, providing your body with the tools it needs to build muscle. The carbs will provide plenty of energy throughout your day. The fat will help to keep the physical volume of food down, while still keeping the calories high.

Customizations for increased calories

  • Adding a dipping sauce for your chicken, wrap and sandwich can add an additional 120 – 450 calories. The dipping sauces that have the most calories are buttermilk ranch (150 calories), tartar (140 calories) and blackened ranch (118 calories). Add extra sauce to all three items for the most caloric increase.
  • Adding a side to your meal will also further increase calories. Rice and beans is the best high protein option with 16g and 264 calories. Corn is the best high carb option for a workout (190 calories and 34g of carbs). 

Options For Pre & Post Workout

If you are eating this meal before or after a workout, I recommend opting for one of the lower-calorie meal plans. Eating a meal this high in calories will leave you feeling lethargic and is likely to cause digestive discomfort. Neither of these will leave you ready to perform well during a workout or recover post-workout. 

Tips for Eating at Popeye’s Before a Workout

What you eat before a workout significantly impacts your ability to perform during your workout. By selecting a meal that is high in carbs and low in fat, you can ensure you have the energy needed to perform at your best.

Should you eat at Popeye’s before a workout? If you are looking for an optimal pre-workout meal, you shouldn’t eat at Popeye’s before a workout as the fat is too high. If you are in a pinch, a three-piece chicken tender meal with a side of corn is the best option. Add a side of mashed potatoes for more calories.

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

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

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

1. Order a side of corn or mashed potatoes 

Before a workout, the focus is to eat a meal that is high in carbs as carbs will provide the quickest source of energy for our bodies. By consuming more carbs during this meal, you are likely to find yourself feeling energized and able to perform better and for longer even during intense workouts. 

This meal should have two servings of carbs at the minimum, with a serving size being about the size of a closed fist. At Popeye’s, chicken tenders provide one serving of carbs so adding a second serving with corn or mashed potatoes is the best option.

I recommend ensuring that you are eating this meal within 1 – 2 hours of your workout. 

2. Opt for three chicken tenders as your protein

The other focus of your pre-workout meal should be to limit the fat you are consuming. Fat slows down our digestion, making it more difficult to break down and use the carbs we just ate, which is likely to leave us with much less energy during our workout. 

At Popeye’s, while all meat options are higher fat than what is optimal, chicken tenders are the lowest fat protein option compared to dark meat chicken and therefore the best option to consume before a workout. 

3. Skip the sauces

At Popeye’s, most sauces are high in fat. Around our workout, to limit the fat we are eating, it’s best to skip these sauces. Fat will reduce the energy immediately available for your workout leaving you less energized. If you are ordering a sauce, I recommend sticking to low-fat sauces such as bold bbq or sweet heat.

Related Article: Should You Eat Fat Before A Workout? (No, Here’s Why)

Tips for Eating at Popeye’s After a Workout

Your post-workout meal kicks off the process of repairing the muscle damaged during your workout, which is what will ultimately result in increased strength and muscular growth. Therefore, this meal is also important to optimize when it comes to maximizing your gym performance when bulking. 

Should you eat at Popeye’s after a workout?.

I do not recommend eating at Popeye’s post-workout because the fat content is much higher than the other macronutrients (carbs and protein) to make it an ideal recovery meal.  However, if you have no other choice, the best post-workout meal at Popeye’s is a three-piece chicken tender meal with a side of corn.  

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 Popeye’s After a Workout

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

1. Add a side of corn or mashed potatoes 

During your workout, your body is using up the fuel it has stored as a source of energy. By the end of your workout, you’ve likely depleted the majority of these stores. To kick start the process of repairing, and in turn growing, our muscles, we need to prioritize replenishing these stores as soon as we can after finishing our workout.

The best way to replenish our energy stores is to eat a high-carb meal. What does high in carbs look like? I recommend at least two servings of carbs, where a serving is the size of a closed fist. At Popeye’s, chicken tenders provide one serving while a side of mashed potatoes or corn will provide the second.

For additional calories within your meal, I recommend opting for a second side of one of these two options. If possible, try to eat this meal within 1 – 1.5 hours after finishing your workout. 

2. Opt for chicken tenders instead of signature chicken 

Protein is also important to include in your post-workout meal as protein is the building block that our body uses to repair our muscles. The process of damaging muscles during a workout and repairing them post-workout is what will ultimately lead to increased strength and muscle growth that is desired when bulking. 

For our body to be able to quickly digest and absorb the carbs and protein we are eating, limiting the amount of fat we are eating post-workout is also important. By eating fat with our meal, we will slow down the digestion process, also, in turn, delaying the muscle repair process. 

At Popeye’s, while all meat options are higher fat than what is best for a post-workout meal, chicken tenders are the lowest fat protein option and therefore the best option to consume before a workout. 

3. Choose a fat-free sauce option 

At Popeye’s, the highest sources of fat are the sauces, however, there are fat-free sauce options that are a great addition to your meal. Bold bbq and sweet heat are the best options to add to your meal. workout, limiting the fat consumed is important so digestion can continue to quickly break down and absorb the carbs and protein it needs to repair and grow our muscles. 

I like to use the analogy that carbs and protein are cars on a highway, heading towards their end destination of our muscles. Fat is the drivers on the road that are traveling below the speed limit, slowing down how quickly they can get to their destination. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions for eating at Popeye’s if you work out. 

Will Eating at Popeye’s Ruin My Gains?

No, eating at Popeye’s will not ruin your gains. To maintain muscle mass, the most important factor is eating sufficient protein during the day. Popeye’s menu has lots of high protein options, such as two, three, and four-piece signature chicken meals, that make it possible to maintain your gains.

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

Yes, you can eat at Popeye’s and still gain muscle. To gain muscle, you need to be eating enough protein after your workout so your muscles have what they need to repair and grow. Popeye’s two, three and four piece signature chicken meals are all high in protein ensuring you have enough protein to make it possible to gain muscle.

What Meal at Popeye’s has the Most Protein?

The meal at Popeye’s with the most protein is the four-piece signature chicken with a side of rice and beans. This meal has 1288 calories, 84g of protein, 58g of carbohydrates, and 80g of fat. 

What Meal at Popeye’s has the Most Calories?

The meal at Popeye’s with the most calories is the four-piece signature chicken with a side of onion rings. This meal has 1370 calories, 79g of protein, 61g of carbohydrates and 83g of fat. 

Which Meal at Popeye’s has the Least Calories

The meal at Popeye’s that has the least calories is the six-piece chicken nuggets. This meal has 225 calories, 11g of protein, 15g of carbohydrates, and 14g of fat.

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

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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. You can connect with Laura on Instagram or through her Website.