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CHEAT SHEET: How to Hit Your Protein & Calorie Goals in Coffee Shops and Take Aways

It's often tricky to grab a healthy lunch while you're out at the weekend or on the road, but it's entirely possible with a bit of effort and knowledge. Today, I grabbed lunch at the local retail park like many of you will over the weekend. I popped into Costa, had a chicken flatbread, then I grabbed an apple and a small protein bar from Home Bargains. It made a pretty good meal on the fly—just over 500 calories and 28g of protein—oh, and one of my five a day! The downside is I couldn't grab all these in one shop, but it was only a minor inconvenience to go next door to a couple of outlets.

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Why Protein Matters

Protein is crucial for maintaining muscle mass, especially as we age. It also helps keep you feeling full longer, which is great for weight management and avoiding snacking whilst travelling or out and about.

Aiming for meals that have approximately 500 calories and 25-30g of protein is a good target for most women which can help you stay on track with your fitness and nutritional goals.

Be aware that lots of fast food and coffee outlets have now latched on to the fact that "high protein" is a label that will attract lots of customers to buy, but make sure you read the nutritional labels to check exactly what it is you are picking up - the high protein label isn't regulated and so unfortunately some retailers are being a bit liberal with its use and upping the prices on these popular items.

Tips for Eating Out:

  1. Check the Labels: Always know what you're eating. Look for nutritional information, often available online or in-store.

  2. Go for Protein-Rich Options: Look for items that highlight protein content. Many cafes and fast-food outlets now offer high-protein options., and think about what you would have at home and look for something similar.

How to Hit Your Protein and Calorie Goals in Coffee Shops and Take Aways. What to Look for:

Below, I've pulled together a few options that should be available in some form a outlets in the UK and would be a good bet for the main coffee shops/high street stores you may wander into. Obviously, these stores change their menu's and the nutritional content of products frequently, and outside the Uk these may not be available, so use this as a broad guide to help you home in on the good stuff and keep checking those labels!

Of course, if you find any other options in these outlets drop them in the comments so we can all take advantage!


  • Chicken Flatbread: A great source of protein. Typically, Costa's chicken flatbreads are around 400-500 calories and offer about 25g of protein​.

  • Protein Pots: These often contain boiled eggs and spinach or chicken and avocado, offering a good protein punch with lower calories.

  • Greek Yoghurt with Granola: Often around 250-300 calories with about 10-15g of protein. Pair with a small protein bar for an extra boost.

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  • Protein Boxes: Options like chicken and hummus protein boxes usually contain around 400-500 calories and 25-30g of protein.

  • Egg White & Red Pepper Sous Vide Egg Bites: These are about 170 calories and 13g of protein per serving. Have two servings for a filling meal.

  • Turkey Bacon & Egg White Sandwich: Approximately 230 calories and 17g of protein

Marks and Spencer:
  • Many meals in this range offer good protein content. Look for options like chicken or salmon with vegetables.

  • Fuller Longer Range: Meals like chicken and quinoa salad or prawn and noodle salad often have around 400-500 calories and 25-30g of protein.

  • Snack Options: Look for protein pots with chicken, boiled eggs, and edamame beans.

What to Look for in Fast Food Outlets:

  • Grilled Chicken Salad: Choose with a low-calorie dressing. This meal is typically around 200-300 calories with 30g of protein.

  • Egg McMuffin: About 300 calories and 17g of protein. Pair with a side salad to make it more filling.

  • Grilled Chicken Wrap: Approximately 360 calories and 26g of protein.

  • Chicken Selects and small fries: Comes in at about 596 calories and 27g of protein (3 selects). Clearly it is not the healthiest choice available and there are better options, but as I visit the golden arches only a couple of times a year this is my standard order as an occasional indulgence. It is all about balance, right!

  • 6-inch Turkey Breast Sub: With lots of veggies, it's about 280 calories and 18g of protein. Opt for double meat to hit the protein target.

  • Chicken Caesar Wrap: Around 430 calories and 30g of protein.

Other Options:

Home Bargains or Supermarkets:
  • Protein Bars: Be mindful of the protein content. Some bars can be as low as 3g of protein for 99kcals, which isn't great. Look for bars that have at least 10g of protein for around 100 calories. Whey protein (its a milk derivative) which is used in most bars is a great source of protein so using these to supplement your protein on the go can be a good option, and a way to sneak a sweet treat into your day.

  • Greek Yoghurt: A small pot of Greek yoghurt typically has about 100 calories and 10g of protein. Pair with fruit or nuts for a balanced snack.

  • Salad pots/Cooked Meats : A pot of salad/with a pack of cooked meat added on top tend be available (if not in the sandwich chiller, then try the fresh food aisle) can provide an easy nutritious meal on the go,

  • Fruit: Apples, bananas etc are good options when you are travelling, and are often available at petrol stations these days (as loads are owned by supermarkets!) Remember to look beyond the sandwich chiller and crisps for them!

Motorway Service Stations:

Most motorway service stations in the UK have a Costa, Marks and Spencer, Mcdonalds or Starbucks. So here is a quick recap of the healthy options to look for:

  • Chicken Flatbread

  • Protein Pots

  • Greek Yoghurt with Granola

Marks and Spencer:
  • Balanced For You Range

  • Fuller Longer Range

  • Protein Snack Pots

  • Protein Boxes

  • Egg White & Red Pepper Sous Vide Egg Bites

  • Turkey Bacon & Egg White Sandwich

Practical Tips

  • Plan Ahead: Look up the nutritional information of places you plan to visit. Most major chains have this information readily available.

  • Smart Pairings: Combine smaller protein sources (like yoghurt or boiled eggs) with fruit or a small salad to meet your caloric and protein needs.

  • Stay Hydrated: Sometimes thirst can be mistaken for hunger. Make sure you're drinking enough water throughout the day.

  • Have the tools for the Job: Try and keep some cutlery in your car/bag to use when needed

Eating well on the go doesn't have to be a challenge. With a bit of planning and knowledge, you can make choices that align with your goals and hit your protein and calorie Goals whilst in coffee shops and take aways. Next time you're out, look for these high-protein, relatively low-calorie options to keep you on track!

Subscribe if you found this helpful and don't forget to add any other good options you have found when you are out and about in the comments!

Need more help? I offer support and advice on social media to help with fitness and fat loss, specifically aimed at women over 30. Click these links and follow me on Instagram @fitforapurposeuk  or on facebook fitforapurposeadmin

For those looking for one to one support I offer bespoke coaching services via my Get Fit For a Purpose plan - Click here for details of my services


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