What is the Best low-carb fast food? 15 options
When you’re eating low carb or doing a strict ketogenic diet, one of the biggest challenges is eating out. Most fast-food restaurants offer mainly high carb meals which are rich in trans fats and not very high in other nutrients.
Does this mean your keto meal plan is doomed once you have to eat out? Definitely not!
While this list may not be exhaustive, here a few guidelines to help you make the right food choices, especially if you feel unsure of your meal options.
Use a Nutrition Calculator
When you’re trying to stay in ketosis, it’s important to know your numbers. How many grams of carbs and how many grams of protein are you getting with your meal? And do they fit your goals?
Keying in your portions in a calculator is a quick way to find out if a meal is right for you or not.
Skip the Salad Dressing and Condiments
Be wary of sauces, salad dressings, and condiments.
The first low carb fast food option that comes to mind when you’re eating out is usually a salad.
While salads by themselves aren’t bad, most salad dressings and condiments tend to be high in hidden carbs.
For example, traditional Dijon mustard has zero carbs but some mustard sauces can have more than 10 grams of sugar!
Another good example, ranch dressing may not be low carb depending on how it’s made. So unless it’s specifically a keto-friendly version, you’d be safer avoiding it altogether.
Skip the Main Carb Portion
Since most fast food meals are built around a large serving of carbs and some protein, you can simply ask for a version of the same meal without the carb. (Think bunless burgers or burrito bowls without the burrito shell).
You can replace the carb portion with a healthy fat alternative like guacamole to help boost satiety.
Deep-Fried Foods Can Be Tricky
A lot of fast-food chains offer deep-fried foods that have been coated with a batter, breaded or marinated with spices that maybe have hidden sugars.
To be on the safe side, stick with grilled, roasted or baked options when it comes to proteins like chicken. For example, opt for a grilled chicken salad over a spicy fried chicken with coleslaw.
Drink Lots of Water
If you’re really hard-pressed for satisfying options, just chug down some bottled water on top of your meal until you’re able to get home or find keto meals that work for you.
Water is the best 0g fat, 0g carb drink available and will fill you up quickly enough.
Now that you have a general idea of how to select meals on the go, here are 15 low carb meals and keto-friendly fast food options to consider next time you’re pressed for time (and food).
Egg Based Keto Breakfasts
Eggs are a popular go-to keto breakfast option because they are versatile, easy to prepare and provide up to 6g of protein each. But if you’re short on time, you may not always have the chance to whip up a batch of your favorite deviled eggs or breakfast bacon egg muffins. These low carb egg breakfast options are worthy replacements!
Looking to try a McDonald’s keto meal for your breakfast? The fast-food giant recently began providing an all-day breakfast menu which has some great keto breakfast options.
They also have an A-La-carte menu meaning you can pick your combo of choice e.g. sausages, egg and cheese and skip any high carb options. Better yet you can bring along your own keto cheese biscuits to complement your meal!
1. Egg McMuffin (minus the English muffin) – a combo of American cheese, Canadian bacon, and eggs which contains 2g net carbs, 11g fat, and 12g of protein and approximately 160 calories.
2. Big Breakfast plate (skip the hash browns and biscuits) made of sausage patties and eggs which totals 340 calories – 29g fat, 2g carbs, and 19 g protein.
3. Sausage McMuffin with Eggs (without the McMuffin itself) – a combo of sausage patties with eggs that comes to 4g net carbs, 15 g protein, 26g fat and 340 calories per serving.
4. Muffin free egg white delights – 140 calories, 9g fat, 2g carbs and 13g protein per serving. Ingredients include Canadian bacon, eggs, and cheddar cheese.
5. Breadless Steak and egg cheese biscuit combo – onions, steak patty with cheese and eggs that totals 294 calories with 19g fat, 4g carbs, and 20g protein.
Be sure to have some unsweetened tea (or tea sweetened with stevia), unsweetened coffee, bulletproof coffee or even iced coffee with your meal to add an extra feeling of fullness.
Other choices at McDonald’s include their sausage patty with cheese (eggless) as well as their Sausage Burrito bowl without the burrito shell. Ask for an extra portion of sausages and skip the eggs for an eggless version.
Bunless Burger Swaps
Burgers are popular at many fast-food restaurants but not low carb friendly because of their buns.
Enter Bunless burgers! By simply removing the bun from your burger and increasing healthy fat, you can make almost any burger low carb or a keto-friendly meal.
Some low carb McDonald’s options include:
6. Quarter pounders with cheese (no ketchup or buns) – 240 calories in total, 25g each for fat and protein and 3g of carbs.
- Double quarter pounder (no bun) – 480 calories, 2g net carbs, 35g fat, and 39g protein. This option gives an extra helping of protein, however, be mindful of your macros for the day as different phases of the ketogenic diet have different allowances.
7. Double cheeseburger (also no buns or ketchup) which totals 20g fat and protein, with just 5g net carbs and 270 calories.
8. Big Mac (also minus buns, ketchup, and Big Mac sauce) – a total of 220 calories, 2g carbs, 17g protein, and 16g fat.
- Big Mac + Mac Sauce (no buns) – 330 calories, 7g carbs, 25g of fat and 18g protein. This is in case you absolutely must have some mac sauce, you can add it since it has just 1g net carbs.
If you’re a Wendy’s fan, here are a few low carb food choices for you too…
9. The Jr. Cheeseburger and Jr. Cheeseburger deluxe (each without buns or ketchup). The cheeseburger adds up to 160 calories, 1g net carbs, 11g fat, and 12g protein. The cheeseburger deluxe version has 220 calories, 4g net carbs, 17g fat, and 13g protein.
10. Jr. Bacon cheeseburger (no bun) is a great option with 260 calories, 2g carbs, 21g fat and 15g protein in total. Other keto-friendly options include
- Son of Baconator (no bun or ketchup) which is 450 calories with 3g carbs, 29g fat and a whopping 37g protein.
Chicken Low Carb Fast Food Options
Chicken is by far one of the most popular sources of protein on any low carb meal plan, next to eggs.
The best low carb recipes include some form of grilled or roasted chicken and a good helping of veggies and healthy fats. But that doesn’t mean grilled chicken salads are the only fast food options available.
What if you’re craving some crispy sandwiches?
With a few swaps and modifications, you can increase your variety of chicken-based low carb meals on the go!
These sandwiches can also double as great breakfast sandwich options for days when you simply can’t bear to have another egg.
11. Grilled Chicken sandwiches (1 patty without buns) – totals 100 calories, 2g fat, 1g net carbs, and 21g protein. This is a perfect Chick Fill A Keto option!
12. Artisan grilled chicken sandwich with guacamole (from McDonald’s) – has 160 calories, 6g net carbs, 19g of fat, and 29g of protein. The artisan grilled chicken is simply grilled chicken breast that has been lightly seasoned so you’re less likely to find hidden sugars from spices.
The added guacamole is a great way to boost your fat macros for the day and will help you stay fuller for longer. Plus it only contains 6g net carbs! Other options include
- Mushroom and Swiss grilled chicken sandwich (minus the onion strips, sauce and buns) – totals 220 calories, 8g fat, 33g protein and provides 3g net carbs.
- Buttermilk crispy chicken sandwich (no bun) – 300 calories, 16g fat, 2g fiber, 19g protein and is a good low carb option providing only 18g net carbs.
- Buttermilk crispy tenders – with 250 calories, 13g fat, 13g carbs, 20g protein, this is a good sandwich alternative that gives you two pieces of crispy chicken tenders and just 13g of carbs. Add some greens and guacamole or avocado slices for a healthy fat boost!
Keto Chicken Salad
Perhaps you’re not a fan of sandwiches or are just looking for good chicken salad options. You can try these
13. McDonald’s Bacon ranch chicken salad (without a dressing) provides just 6g net carbs but 320 calories and 42g of protein, making it a highly satisfying yet nutrient-dense low carb meal.
- Southwest Bacon Ranch Chicken Salad (without the glaze, dressing or tortilla chips) – adds up to 240 calories with 14g carbs, 7g fat and 32g protein making it low carb friendly.
Low Carb Snack Ideas
For days when you don’t have time to squeeze in a full meal, but would like a quick boost of energy, these low carb snacks, and keto desserts will give you enough energy to last till your next meal.
14. Keto Popcorn Cheese Puffs/Pork Rinds
Popcorn cheese puffs and pork rinds are some great low-carb keto-friendly snack options.
15. Yogurt Parfaits
Yogurt parfaits are another low carb/ keto-friendly option. (minus any store-bought cereals, granola, and dried fruit). A container of Greek yogurt contains about 100 calories and less than 10g net carbs.
Add a tablespoon or two of some mixed nuts and seeds together with strawberries and/or blackberries and you have the perfect low carb snack or dessert!
So there you have it! 15 best low-carb keto fast options that won’t kick out of ketosis.
Being on a low carb diet can be tough, but by following a few of the tips and tricks here, you can still enjoy some fast food (occasionally). The best thing to do however is to meal prep or plan your meals ahead, so you won’t turn to fast food options often.
Which other low carb fast food options are your favorites?
By TINA ALEXANDRE
Bio: HI, I’M TINA, A MOM, AND WIFE WHO LOVES TO WRITE ABOUT NUTRITION AND DIETING. WHEN I’M NOT WRITING, I ALSO ENJOY BAKING HEALTHY PASTRIES WITH MY 7-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER.