Making your own food is the best choice for a low-carb diet. This is because you have control over the ingredients you use to make your keto foods and you can exercise better portion control. The keto diet comes with some strict dos and don’ts and it may be safe to just stay home to avoid temptations.
However, you may miss food from your favorite Taco Bell or Burger King, but you have no idea about the carb counts of the foods they serve. Fret not! Most fast food restaurants have foods on their menu that count as low-carb options that you can enjoy. You don’t have to miss hangouts with your buddies at Panda Express because of fear of straying from the low-carb path.
This article will list some of the food items that double up as low-carb meals that are popular on most food menus. Whether you are on the road or are running on a “no time to cook” schedule, this can be your guide for all keto options at your disposal.
No Carb Fast Food
Using the term low-carb diet and fast food in the same sentence feels like a taboo, but hear me out! Fast food is usually high carb and full of trans fats which goes against everything that the keto diet stands for. Despite this, there are keto-friendly options you can have as a quick meal for convenience’s sake.
I have to mention that whatever low-carb choice you go for, it is not 100% clean keto. These meals can work for people on less strict types of the ketogenic diet. If the goal is to find a clean low-carb meal, be prepared to search for the needle in the haystack. Which foods count as no carb fast food meals?
Keto-friendly Fast Food
To be able to keep your carb intake low, you need to know what to look for to spot keto meals. Here are a few tips you can use to order keto food menu items to stay within your recommended carb allowance.
Tips for Choosing Fast Food Keto Options
Follow these tips and you will walk out of your favorite fast-food restaurant with a delicious low-carb meal that will keep you in ketosis.
- Do away with breading on your veggies or protein. Non-starchy vegetables and lean proteins are the best low-carb options you can find in restaurants. For these, it is easier to know their carb count since you can see what you’re getting.
- Always read the nutrition info: Food labels will provide you with a lot of nutrition info to help you decide whether your meal is keto friendly or not. It doesn’t come in a box with labels, don’t be afraid to ask what ingredients are in the food you think is keto.
- Replace croutons with nuts and seeds.
- Go bun-less! If your favorite fast food comes with a bun or bread, you can request for them to serve your meal without it. Another alternative is having them wrap it up! Veggie wraps like lettuce wraps are in season.
- Your extras should be “carb-free”. You have done away with that bun, and you feel like your meal may not be enough or may not meet your calories. Maximize on the extras! Ask for low-carb extras like mayonnaise, cucumbers, pickles, sour cream, olive oil, or vinegar.
- Peep in the bag before hitting the road. Many people are hopping on the low-carb eating bandwagon, but it’s not a surprise to get an order wrong. Double-check that they have given you exactly what you asked for to be on the safe side.
- It’s better off not fried. This is because fried fast foods usually have breading which will add to your carb intake. Try replacing fried proteins with grilled options and have veggies raw with a salad dressing.
Pay attention to these tips and you will maintain your fat-burning state even when eating out.
Keto Takeaway Options
Alright, now to the long-awaited segment: no carb fast food options for you.
What can you have in the morning when in a rush to work but still maintain a state of ketosis?
Bun-less Breakfast Sandwiches
You can go for eggs, cheese, and sausages without a bun or pick a burrito without the wrap. This way you would have brought down your calorie and carb intake. The calorie deficit allows you to order 2 servings of the filling if a serving is not enough.
A good place to start is to order a grilled chicken sandwich without the bread but in a lettuce wrap.
Do you see the regular breakfast bowl or skillet your friend ordered at breakfast with eggs, veggies, meat, potatoes, and baked beans? Go for the same without the potatoes and baked beans!
Creamy Coffee or Tea
Your regular coffee run can still adhere to your keto rules. Unsweetened black coffee, Espresso, and Americano are keto-friendly beverages. Throw a tablespoon or two of heavy cream into this instead of sugar to boost fat content and keep your drink almost carb-free.
One tablespoon serving of heavy cream contains 0.42 grams of carbs, 5.51 grams of fat, and 0.31 grams of protein.
Most coffee shops usually have the half-and-half option for individuals who like milk in their coffee. According to the USDA, a tablespoon serving of regular half-and-half contains 0.645 grams of carbs, 0.469 grams of protein, and 1.72 grams of fat. It has fewer calories than heavy cream.
If heavy cream is not for you, then you’re in luck! With people embracing plant-based foods, most fast-food restaurants offer such options. You can request coffee with plant-based milk like almond milk which is low-carb. A 100 g serving of almond milk contains 0.67 grams of carbs, 0.66 grams of protein, and 1.56 grams of fat.
Lunch or Dinner Options
I love the versatility of keto because what you have for lunch can easily turn into your dinner. You can order:
- Bunless burgers
- Food salads like chicken salad, avocado chicken salad, and garden salad
- Grilled chicken breast, chicken tenders, or chicken nuggets without breading.
Since most of the meals are specific to restaurants, I will mention the well-known fast food restaurants and popular items in their menus that are keto-friendly.
Which fast food chain serves low-carb foods on its menu? Which of their menu items is keto?
Chicken is keto-friendly with 0 grams of carbs, 18.6 grams of protein, and 15.1 grams of fat per 100 g serving. If there’s one thing KFC is known for is their crunchy chicken. Their breaded chicken items are not keto because they are high in carbs. A 100 g serving of fried KFC chicken with skin and breading contains 18.8 grams of carbs and 0 grams of dietary fiber.
An exception is when you order grilled chicken without the breading. A piece serving of KFC chicken with skin and breading removed contains 0.35 grams of carbs. This makes this item the low-carb option on KFC’s menu.
This place is famous for burgers and sandwiches. At Burger King, you can get grilled crispy chicken sandwiches that are keto. However, all the other items on the menu are breaded.
The best thing about this place is it allows for a customizable menu, where you can do away with ingredients you do not want. They have:
- Bunless burgers with 4 g of carbs per serving
- Garden salad (side) with 3 g net carbs
- Bunless whopper with cheese (do not add ketchup) with 1 g net carb.
You can’t go wrong with non-starchy vegetables when eating keto. Keto dieters can enjoy Wendy’s Avocado chicken salad which has only 7.5 g of total carbs, 5 grams of fiber, and 2.5 grams of net carbs.
They also have a double stack cheeseburger you can order without the bun which will kick out 15-20 grams of carbs off your meal. You can have the Dave’s double in a lettuce wrap which is a burger that replaces burger buns with a lettuce wrap.
This food chain has a grilled alternative chicken item on its menu from the not-so-keto fried chicken. What does Chick-fil-A have to offer in terms of no carb fast food menu items?
- Lettuce-wrapped grilled chicken club sandwich containing 2 grams of carbs. Your grilled chicken club salad is ready to go!
- Cobb salad with chicken (request for no corn) containing 10 grams of carbs
- Egg white grill containing 1 gram of carbs.
- Grilled nuggets with 3 grams of carbs.
- Spicy Southwest salad with 29 grams of carbs, 8 grams of fiber, and 21 grams of net carbs.
Yes, I know it feels weird to see Taco Bell make the list considering tacos are not keto. And because most of their meals include rice, corn, beans, taco shells, and corn, it may be hard to believe that you could find any low-carb food here.
However, make a little modification to your order and you could walk out with a low-carb meal you will enjoy. Just remember to ask them to remove the rice, beans, and corn from your food.
Here are the options you have from this restaurant:
- The power menu bowl made gives you 12 grams of total carbs, 8 grams of fiber and 4 grams of net carbs. The ingredients include shredded chicken, guacamole, lettuce, sour cream, and avocado ranch sauce.
- Steak power bowl that provides you with 9 grams of net carbs.
- Burrito steak supreme minus the beans and tortilla that has 5 grams of net carbs.
- Doritos Locos Tacos made from shredded cheese, lettuce, and ground beef provides you with the ultimate low-carb burger option. You can go a bit loco and order extra tomatoes and sour cream. It only offers 13 grams of carbs.
The classic sandwich restaurant has some keto options up its sleeve including:
- The Unwich. This is an in-house term to refer to lettuce-wrapped bunless sandwiches. They have the Jimmy Cubano Unwich that has only 4 grams of net carbs, the Beach Club Unwich with 6 grams of net carbs, and the ultimate porker Unwich with only 3 grams of net carbs.
Consider one of Jimmy John’s Unwich as a late lunch meal that is convenient and delicious.
The Mexican Grill restaurant lives up to its “build your own” hype by having a couple of keto options on its menu. Ordering with their website allows you to get nutrition info on items they serve which can help with carb counting.
Since they are also embracing change, they have a few menus that are adapted to different lifestyles. The options they have for you include:
- Cauliflower rice is the best replacement for starchy rice. The carb count depends on what you add to your rice.
- Keto salad bowl: of course, their salad made the keto list with only 7 grams of carbs.
- Burrito bowl with chicken, cheese, green chili salsa, and sour cream that has 7 grams of net carbs.
At Chipotle you have the option of being creative and designing your meal that fits your needs or choosing already-designed keto meals that save the stress of coming up with a meal on your own.
This place has so many things to be proud of that are original to them. First things first they were the first drive-through burger spot in California. Moreover, they cut their fries in the restaurant which makes them stand out. But what is eye-catching are the secret menu items that make eating out on keto easy.
Their protein-style burger that is wrapped in lettuce is bound to catch any low-carb dieter’s eye. The burger only has 8 grams of net carbs. They also have an animal-style burger that you can order if you’re hoping to keep your carb intake down.
Bring your mind out of the sandwich gutter! We’re moving more along the salad lines as a no carb fast food option in this restaurant. Subway’s veggie Delite salad is more along the lines of what we’re looking for as keto dieters. What makes it such a delight? It has only 9 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of fiber.
Yes, you can get your cup of coffee with heavy cream that is keto. But the coffee shop has breakfast options that are keto-friendly. Keep away from the sandwiches and opt for their egg bites that are low-carb and rich in other essential nutrients for optimum health.
The Sous Vide Egg Bites are an example of a low-carb pre-workday meal full of flavor. One reason you’ll love this is their versatility, so you are spoilt for choice. You can choose to have the kale and mushroom or roasted bell pepper varieties to kickstart your day.
One piece of the Egg White & Roasted Red Pepper Egg Bites contains 11 grams of net carbs, 8 grams of fat, and 12 grams of protein. Take them in moderation and they can be healthier options to all the other high-carb meals on the menu.
Arby’s is a sandwich heaven at heart. Any meat sandwich you want, you’ve got it under one roof! They also have the bunless or lettuce-wrapped alternative that allows you to go crazy on keto. What’s keto on their menu?
- Roast Turkey Farmhouse Salad without dressing: 6 grams net carbs
- Chopped salad (side salad): 3 grams net carbs.
- Lettuce wrapped Reuben: 6 grams net carbs.
Their roast beef sandwich is a crowd’s favorite since they are packed with nutrients and low carbs. Remember to remove high-carb ingredients from your meals when making your orders.
Jack in the Box
Here you can either go the bunless or lettuce-wrapped burger or the salad way, whatever floats your boat! The keto options here include:
- The Bunless Ultimate breakfast sandwich: 5 grams of net carbs
- Club salad and grilled chicken: 8 grams of net carbs
- Bunless Double Jack Cheeseburger with a side salad: 6 grams of net carbs
Always request for high-carb ingredients like croutons to be removed from your food when ordering.
Some other restaurants that have no carb fast food options on their menus are:
- Carl’s Jr.
- Five Guys
- Panera Bread
- Taco John’s
There you go, your guide to navigating the fast-food keto hunt.
Fast food is known to be high in carbs and trans fats. However, with the dawn of new lifestyles and eating habits, fast-food restaurants have had to accommodate these changes in the foods they offer. There are fast-food restaurants with menu items that are keto-friendly.
What you need to do is avoid fried foods, do away with breading, go bunless, and always read food labels. This way you will be one step in the right direction of choosing the right low-carb meal option to keep you in ketosis.
Which of the above restaurants have you visited? Which keto meal did you have? Give your review of the food you had in the comments below!