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Best Guy Restaurant Foods for Weight Loss

How you could build muscle and melt fat while still keeping your family happy

Family eating at a fast food restaurant
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In an ideal world, every meal would be home-cooked or thoughtfully prepared by chefs who had your health top of mind. In the real world, the taste buds want what they want, and sometimes that means grabbing a quick meal out of a clown’s mouth or at a chain restaurant whose entire marketing plan is based around unlimited breadsticks.

That’s why it’s super-hard for men, particularly those of us raising families, to stick to any kind of sensible eating plan. But if you know a few simple rules, and have a menu cheat sheet, you can effortlessly cruise through any chain restaurant menu with choices that will help keep you lean, strong and satisfied.

The fast science: We lose about 5 percent of our total muscle every decade starting at age 30. (For reference, your bicep is about 5 percent of your total muscle mass. So by age 50, you’ve lost both biceps. Yikes.) Muscle burns extra calories, and it also serves as a storage space for blood sugar. So when we lose it, we start to get fatter and weaker, and the next thing we know we’re paying attention to those weird new manboob T-shirt ads popping up on our TikTok feeds. 

One main reason we lose muscle as we age is something called “anabolic resistance” — our bodies resist turning the protein we eat into muscle. But there’s a proven way to get around that problem: Make sure you eat about 30 grams of protein at each meal, especially breakfast. Any less and your body can’t turn your food into muscle. And make sure you get at least 5 grams of fiber at each meal, which will keep you full, fight inflammation and help with weight management.

The key to eating out in a chain restaurant is to know which choices have at least 30 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. You can find this info on the chain’s website — they’re legally required to post it — but it takes some searching. To save you time, here’s a quick selection of fast, easy, cheap and good-for-your-body meals you can pick up on your way to work, hit at lunchtime or enjoy while your kids snarf down chicken fingers and ignore you.


2 Fried Eggs + Whole Wheat Toast + Turkey Sausage (2 pcs)
30 g protein, 5 g fiber, 410 calories

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store
Fresh Start Sampler + Turkey Sausage
35 g protein, 6 g fiber, 600 calories

Egg White Grill + Sunflower Multigrain Bagel
33 g protein, 5 g fiber, 560 calories

Loaded Veggie Omelette + Seasonal Fruit + English Muffin
34 g protein, 6 g fiber, 750 calories


Chipotle Mexican Grill
Steak Salad with light cilantro-lime brown rice, light black beans, light Monterey Jack cheese, tomatillo red chile salsa, chipotle honey vinaigrette dressing
31 g protein, 7.5 g fiber, 625 calories

Crispy Colonel Sandwich (Buffalo) + BBQ Baked Beans
35 g protein, 8 g fiber, 690 calories

Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken
30 g protein, 6 g fiber, 320 calories

Panera Bread
Turkey on Country Rustic Sourdough (whole) + Ten Vegetable Soup (cup)
32 g protein, 4 g fiber, 470 calories


Panda Express
String Bean Chicken Breast + ½ order fried rice + Super Greens
31 g protein, 10 g fiber, 540 calories

6 oz Classic Sirloin + Small Side of Fresh Guacamole + Side of Steamed Broccoli
38 g protein, 8 g fiber, 410 calories

Buffalo Wild Wings
Six-count Traditional Wings with Signature Sauce + Carrots & Celery with Fat-Free Ranch
32 g protein, 5 g fiber, 515 calories

Olive Garden
Herb-Grilled Salmon with Broccoli
49 g protein, 9 g fiber, 495 calories

Adapted from The Whole Body Reset, by Stephen Perrine with Heidi Skolnik (Simon & Schuster, 2022)

Follow Article Topics: Eating-&-Drinking