The Best Bulking and Cutting Meals at Taco Bell Explained

When you’re working to create a physique of distinction, you need to be on top of what you’re putting into your mouth 24/7.

Whether you’re cutting or bulking, being out on the town or simply on the run and famished doesn’t mean that you can forget about eating clean and fill up on junk.

The reality of life, however, is that there will be times when we need a quick meal and the only option available is a fast food restaurant like Taco Bell.

So if you find yourself in this situation, what are the best healthy bulking and cutting meals at Taco Bell?

If you’re eating at Taco Bell on a diet or cut, the best cutting meal at Taco Bell is the Power Menu Bowl — strip out the rice and/or beans to save a few calories, if you’d like, but otherwise this dish is an excellent moderate calorie source of protein. With the right modifications, you can get a whopping 29g of protein for just 290 calories.

The best bulking meal at Taco Bell is the quesalupa — it’s one of the tastiest treats on the entire menu and a good source of protein. Depending on the meat you choose, you’ll get 25-30g of protein for around 600 calories.

Read on for some more options and tips for hitting your macros at Taco Bell.

The Best Cutting Meal at Taco Bell: Power Menu Bowl with modifications

When you are on a cutting diet, your goal is to strip off body fat while retaining lean muscle mass.

To do that you need to be taking in fewer calories than you burn off each day. This is referred to as being in a caloric deficit.

You also need to limit your intake of refined and sugary carbs as well as saturated and trans fats. 

Finally, you’ll want lots of good proteins in your diet. Keeping calories moderate and protein high is the key to a good cut.

Taco Bell provides a number of options to help you stay on track.

Crunchy Taco

Chances are that you’ve ended up at Taco Bell because you’ve got an appetite for a taco.

The best fit for your cutting diet on the Taco Bell menu is the Crunchy Taco, which offers seasoned beef, lettuce and cheese inside a crunch taco shell.

This provides you with a satisfying meal for minimal caloric cost. In fact, each taco comes in at just 170 calories and delivers 8 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and 13 grams of carbs

Modified Power Menu Bowl

The standard Power Menu Bowl at Taco Bell features such things as rice, beans , and tortilla — which might push your calories a little high if you’re on a cut.

By making some simple changes, however, you can still enjoy this menu item.

Simply request the chicken or steak power menu meal without the beans or rice.

You will still receive a delicious combination of guacamole, tomatoes, cheese, lettuce and sour cream.

The nutrient profile on this meal is 290 calories, 29 grams of protein, 15 grams of fat and 8 grams of sugar.

If you’re looking for a bigger meal, go with the standard bowl and get even more protein — but also extra carbs and calories.

Chicken Chipotle Melt

The Chicken Chipotle Melt allows you to get your protein at a low caloric count.

It combines chicken, cheese and creamy chipotle sauce all wrapped up inside a soft tortilla.

The energy cost per melt is 190 calories, with 12 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat and 15 grams of carbs.

Not too shabby for a delicious treat!

The Best Bulking Meal at Taco Bell: Quesalupa with chicken

Bulking up can be done either the clean way or the dirty way.

A dirty bulk, in which you eat absolutely anything with no regard for health or calories, will lead to a lot of unwanted fat gain.

Plus, more importantly, you’ll feel like crap in and out of the gym!

That’s going to make it a whole lot harder to cut down in your post bulk phase.

A clean bulk involves getting 25-40 grams of protein per meal, along with clean carbs for glycogen replacement and healthy fats.

Here’s the best way to get them at Taco Bell …


If you haven’t tried a Quesalupa before, you are in for a treat.

It consists of seasoned beef, sour cream, shredded cheese, lettuce and tomato inside of a chewy cheesy shell.

It will provide you with 610 calories, 25 grams of protein, 46 grams of carbs and 8 grams of carbs.

Go with the chicken variation to save a few calories and get a few extra grams of lean protein.


Taco Bell offers Quesadillas made with beef, chicken or steak.

I recommend going for the chicken version, which has the highest protein and the lowest fat content.

Your poultry will be presented in an extra long folded and grilled tortilla, packed with delicious cheese and creamy, tangy sauce.

A chicken quesadilla from Taco Bell will provide you with 27 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, 38 grams of carbs and 510 calories.

Chicken Power Menu Bowl

The Power Menu Bowl offerings are a solid option for those on a bulk.

The carbs in the beans and rice allow you to replace the glycogen that gets used up during your workout.

The chicken Power Menu Bowl comes with sour cream, shredded cheese, guacamole, seasoned rice, black beans, avocado ranch sauce, lettuce, and tomatoes. 

The nutrition profile of the Chicken Power Menu Bowl is 26 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber and 50 grams of fat for a total energy count of 470 calories.

(Read more about bulking snacks to help hit your macros.)

Wrapping Up

Taco Bell doesn’t necessarily represent the ideal picture of a healthy restaurant, but that’s OK!

It’s absolutely delicious, cheap, and you can hit your macros spot on when you’re in a pinch.

Look for high protein options with chicken and try to avoid too many fried menu items. Mix and match some of the choices above depending on your meal plan and macros.

For more fast food options, check out:

Hope this helps!