Chick-fil-A vs. Cane’s: Healthiest Options for Athletes
When selecting where to stop at for a quick meal on-the-go, it can be helpful for athletes to know what fast-food restaurants offer healthy options.
Let’s compare Chick-fil-A vs. Cane’s to identify which menu items can support athletes with meeting their sports nutrition needs.
Chick-fil-A vs. Cane’s
Chick-fil-A and Raising Cane’s are two popular fast-food restaurants that both feature chicken as the central item on their menus.
Raising Cane’s offers a relatively simple menu, centered around their “One Love” of chicken fingers. The chicken fingers can be purchased in a variety of combo meals as well as on a sandwich.
Chick-fil-A has a more expansive menu, which includes breakfast items, chicken nuggets and tenders, a variety of sandwiches, as well as soups, salads, and side items.
Note: All the nutrition information included in this article comes from the Chick-fil-A and Raising Cane’s websites. Menu options and nutrition information may change as products are updated. For the most current nutrition information, refer to the restaurant websites.
A Note on Sodium in Chick-fil-A and Cane’s Menu Items
It is important to note that many of the menu items discussed below are high in sodium. In general, consuming sodium in the diet can support athletes with replacing the sodium lost in sweat.
However, athletes who have been advised to restrict sodium in their diet should work with a sports dietitian nutritionist to develop an individualized plan for meeting their sports nutrition needs.
Chick-fil-A vs. Cane’s: Breakfast Options
Athletes looking for a healthy breakfast will want to head to Chick-fil-A, as Raising Cane’s currently does not offer a breakfast menu.
Chick-fil-A offers several breakfast items that athletes can order for a quick, healthy meal-on-the-go.
My top choices at Chick-fil-A for a healthy breakfast include:
- Egg White Grill
- Greek Yogurt Parfait
- Fruit Cup
Following a morning workout, the Egg White Grill with a fruit cup and 1% milk can be a nutritious way for athletes to meet their recovery nutrition needs.
Chick-fil-A vs. Cane’s: Chicken Fingers, Strips, and Nuggets
Raising Cane’s and Chick-fil-A both offer chicken tenders on their menu. At Cane’s they are referred to as chicken fingers, while at Chick-fil-A they are called chicken strips.
According to the Cane’s website, their chicken fingers are hand battered and marinated for 24-hours prior to being cooked to order. Each chicken finger provides 130 calories, 13 grams of protein, and 6 grams of fat.
The Chick-fil-A Chick-n-Strips® are made with boneless chicken tenders that are freshly breaded and pressure cooked in 100% refined peanut oil. Each chick-n-strip provides 110 calories, 10 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat.
|Chick-fil-A Chicken Strips
|Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers
|Saturated Fat (g)
Cane’s chicken finger provides more protein per tender than the Chick-fil-A chicken strips. However, the Cane’s chicken fingers are also higher in fat.
In general, athletes should aim to eat 25-30 grams of protein (0.25-0.3 g of protein/kg of body weight) with each meal (1, 2). Thus, a 3 piece-chicken tender order from either restaurant can support them with meeting their protein needs at a meal.
Chick-fil-A Chicken Nuggets
While both Chick-fil-A and Cane’s offer chicken tenders, only Chick-fil-A offers nuggets. Chick-fil-A offers both their original breaded chicken nuggets as well as grilled chicken nuggets.
The grilled chicken nuggets are a high-protein option at Chick-fil-A that can make a great addition to an athlete’s meal.
The grilled nuggets are made with a marinated boneless chicken breast, providing a lean source of protein that is low in saturated fat.
- 8-count Grilled Nuggets: 25 grams of protein
- 12-count Grilled Nuggets: 38 grams of protein
Chick-fil-A vs. Cane’s: Chicken Sandwich
Chick-fil-A and Cane’s both offer a chicken sandwich on their menu. The chicken sandwich at Cane’s consists of 3 chicken fingers served on a toasted bun with lettuce and Cane’s sauce.
At Chick-fil-A, the original chicken sandwich features a breaded, boneless chicken breast served on a buttered bun with dill pickle chips.
|Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich
|Raising Cane’s Chicken Sandwich
|Saturated Fat (g)
Unlike the chicken tenders, there is a substantial difference in the nutrition profile for the chicken sandwiches. The Cane’s chicken sandwich is higher in calories, protein, total fat, and saturated fat than Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich.
Based on these differences, my recommendation would be to choose the Chick-fil-A sandwich over the Cane’s for a healthier option.
If an athlete plans to order the Cane’s chicken sandwich, I would suggest ordering it with the Cane’s sauce served on the side. Making this change will help to reduce the calorie and fat content of the sandwich.
In addition to the original chicken sandwich, Chick-fil-A offers a variety of other chicken sandwiches, including:
- Spicy chicken sandwich (deluxe with cheese)
- Grilled chicken sandwich (deluxe with cheese)
- Grilled chicken club sandwich
- Chick-fil-A® Cool Wrap
Chick-fil-A vs. Cane’s: Side Items and Salads
Raising Cane’s also has a limited selection of side items on their menu – offering only crinkle-cut fries, coleslaw, and Texas toast. Of these options, the coleslaw is the healthiest option containing the least amount of saturated fat.
Chick-fil-A has a variety of healthy side items that athletes can select from, including:
- Fruit cup
- Side salad
- Kale crunch salad
- Buddy Fruits® apple sauce
- Greek yogurt parfait
- Chicken noodle soup
Thus, when eating at Chick-fil-A, athletes have numerous options for building a healthy meal.
Similar to breakfast, Cane’s does not offer any salads on their menu. However, Chick-fil-A has a variety of entrée salads available for athletes to select from.
My favorite salad choice at Chick-fil-A is their Market Salad. The Market Salad includes grilled chicken, chopped apples, fresh berries, and blue cheese served on top of mixed greens, making it a nutritious choice for athletes.
Chick-fil-A vs. Cane’s: Dipping Sauce
Chick-fil-A and Cane’s both have signature dipping sauces which they are known for – Chick-fil-A® Sauce and Cane’s Sauce®. Unfortunately, both of these signature dipping sauces are high in calories and fat.
Instead of ordering the Chick-fil-A Sauce or Cane’s Sauce, I would recommend athletes choose a sauce lower in calories and fat.
Lower calorie sauce options at Cane’s include:
- Louisiana Hot Sauce
At Chick-fil-A, there are a variety of lower calorie dipping sauce options, including:
- Zesty Buffalo Sauce
- Barbecue Sauce
- Sweet and Spicy Siracha Sauce
- Honey Mustard Sauce
Chick-fil-A vs. Cane’s: Catering for Athletic Teams
If you are looking to order dinner for an athletic team, both Chick-fil-A and Cane’s offer catering. Similar to their menus, Chick-fil-A has a more expansive catering menu than Cane’s.
Chick-fil-A offers a variety of catering trays that can be a convenient option for a team meal, including:
- Grilled Chicken Bundle: Fixings to build your own grilled chicken sandwich
- Chilled Grilled Chicken Sub Tray
- Spicy Grilled Chicken Sub Tray
- Chick-fil-A® Cool Wraps Tray
- Spicy Cool Wraps Tray
- Fruit Tray
- Garden Salad Tray
- Kale Crunch Side Tray
The Cane’s catering menu, referred to as their TailgatesTM menu, consists of chicken finger trays served with Cane’s Sauce®.
If ordering the Cane’s chicken fingers trays as a team meal, make sure to pick-up additional items from the store to serve with the meal. A large fruit tray, raw vegetables with hummus, pretzels, or pasta salad can all be great options to offer with the chicken fingers.
Given Cane’s limited catering menu, if planning a team meal I would recommend selecting Chick-fil-A. Chick-fil-A offers a variety of catering options that can provide a healthy post-game meal for a team.
Chick-fil-A vs. Cane’s: Healthiest Options for Athletes
Pulling this all together, if athletes are looking to build a healthy fast-food meal, they will find more options at Chick-fil-A than at Raising Cane’s.
Athletes can still enjoy eating at Raising Cane’s, but I would suggest saving this for an off-day. In addition, they should be mindful of portion sizes and avoid the large combo meals. It is best for athletes to enjoy their meal in moderation and then have a healthy snack later in the day if hungry.
For additional sports nutrition tips for eating out, check out my blog on healthy fast food options for athletes.
Join the Nutrition By Mandy Email List & Get a Free Healthy Eating Out Guide for Athletes
Click HERE to join the Nutrition By Mandy e-mail list. When you join you will receive a free Healthy Eating Out Guide for Athletes.
About the Author
Mandy Tyler is a Sports Dietitian Nutritionist in the San Antonio, TX area. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a Licensed Athletic Trainer, and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. Mandy has experience working with athletes at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. She believes the key to reaching one’s full potential, both in everyday life and in sports performance, relies on a healthy nutritional foundation.