With fast food chain restaurants around almost every corner, fast food is convenient and easily available. If you are on the keto diet, you know that fast food restaurant meals are loaded with carbohydrates and you cannot just order anything off the menu as you would in a keto restaurant. But don't write off enjoying a snack or meal with friends and family at your favorite fast food restaurant just yet! There is good news – with a little planning, you can stick to the keto diet and eat a fast food meal without the guilt!
The keto diet calls for meals that are low carb, high fat, and moderate protein, which means you need to have a plan. Don't worry if you don't have all the information before you go to the fast food restaurant. You can ask for the nutrition facts at the restaurant but the easiest thing to do is go to their website and check out the carbs column in the nutrition facts table or using the nutrition calculator offered by some fast food chains. Take a test drive to see how this works by clicking on links to the fast food restaurants mentioned in this article in the reference section.
As a general guideline, keto-friendly options are the ones with the lowest amount of carbs. You will have to substitute or remove some items so you can control the number of carbohydrates you are eating. That does not mean just not getting the bun or bread but also skipping condiments such as ketchup and barbeque sauce, which are sneaky sources of carbs. Say no to the fries and chips as well. It goes without saying that regular sodas, smoothies, and ice creams are off-limits as well. If you think you are out of options because of this, keep heart and read on to see what you can order from 12 common fast food restaurants.
You can satisfy your craving for McDonald's by making a few modifications to their menu items to make it keto friendly. A good place to start is by using McDonald's nutrition calculator. (1) Play with it to remove or edit ingredients from their menu items to make a meal that will work for you.
One thing you will want to avoid that you may think are okay on the keto diet is the high fat fast foods like the crispy, fried chicken sandwich or chicken nuggets, as they have flour breading that will add to your carbohydrate intake. And if you really crave chicken nuggets, opt for the smallest serving of 4 nuggets, and don't dip them in ketchup or barbeque sauce!
For most menu items, take out the bun, muffin, biscuit, or tortilla and ask for it in a bowl or as a lettuce wrap.
· Egg McMuffin, without the McMuffin
· Sausage Biscuit with egg, without the biscuit
· Bacon Egg and Cheese, without the biscuit
· Sausage Burrito, without the tortilla
· Sausage McGriddles, without the McGriddles
Lunch or Dinner
· Double Quarter Pounder, without the bun and ketchup
· Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich, without the bun and ketchup
· Big Mac, without the Big Mac Bun and Big Mac Sauce
· Quarter Pounder with Cheese Bacon, without the bun and ketchup
You can get some keto food options for any meal you crave from Burger King. The key is again, to order burgers without buns, wrapped in lettuce or in containers so that you limit your intake of carbohydrates. Also, remember to say no to ketchup and other condiments that contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Here are some options you can order from Burger King to make them keto friendly. (2,3)
· Sausage, Egg and Cheese Croissan'Wich, without the croissant
· Double Sausage Sourdough Breakfast, without the bun
· Fully Loaded Croissan'Wich – Bacon, Ham, Sausage, without the croissant
· Bacon, Sausage, Egg and Cheese Biscuit without the biscuit
· Eggnormous Burrito in a bowl, without the tortilla and hashbrowns
Lunch or Dinner
· Double Whopper, without the bun and ketchup
· Triple Whopper with Cheese, without the bun and ketchup
· Double Quarter Pound King, without the bun and ketchup
· Bacon Double Cheeseburger, without the bun and ketchup
· Chicken Caesar Salad, with grilled chicken and no croutons
· Crispy Chicken Garden Salad, swap crispy chicken with grilled chicken and no croutons
Taco Bell has a nutrition calculator that allows you to omit ingredients to meet your needs and is an excellent way of determining your carbohydrate intake when you eat there. (4) Here are some things you can order from Taco Bell.
· Grande Toasted Breakfast Burrito in a bowl, without the flour tortilla, potato bites, and hash browns
· Breakfast Crunchwrap in a bowl with guacamole, without the tortilla, beans, potatoes, and sauce
· Cheesy Toasted Breakfast Burrito in a bowl with guacamole and cheese, without the tortilla, beans, and potatoes
Lunch or Dinner
· Burrito Supreme in a bowl with guacamole and cheese, without the tortilla, beans, rice, and sauce
· Beef Quesadilla in a bowl with creamy chipotle sauce, without tortilla, beans, and rice
· Chicken Power Menu Bowl, with no beans, rice, and sour cream
· Crunchy Taco in a bowl with grilled chicken, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and guacamole, no taco shell, beans, or rice
· Beefy 5-Lyer Burrito in a bowl with Marinated Grilled Steak, shredded cheese, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado ranch sauce, without the tortilla and sour cream
Though known best for its fried chicken sandwiches that are breaded and deep-fried, Chick-fil-A has keto-friendly grilled chicken options that you can order when you visit the fast food chain restaurant. (5)
· Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit, without the biscuit or muffin
· Egg White Grill, without the English muffin
· Hash Brown Scramble Bowl with Grilled Filet, no hash browns
Lunch or Dinner
· Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich, without the bun and barbeque sauce
· Chick-fil-A Cool Wrap, without the flour flatbread
· Grilled chicken nuggets for a snack
· Grilled Chicken Sandwich, without the bun and sauce
Chipotle's nutrition calculator can help you turn your favorite Mexican foods into a keto meal that fits right in your ketogenic diet with low carbs by removing and substituting options. Leave out the burrito, rice, and beans to make a keto-friendly meal, or just order any of their keto salad bowls from their Lifestyles Bowl section. (6)
· Chipotle's Keto salad bowls with chicken, steak, or carnitas that you can order right off their menu contain about 20 grams of carbs.
· If you are craving rice, opt for the keto bowl that has cilantro-lime cauliflower rice, chicken, tomatillo-red chili salsa, Monterey Jack cheese, and guacamole. This has about 20 grams of carbohydrates as well.
· Burrito bowl with steak, chicken or carnitas, fajita veggies, cheese, romaine lettuce, and guacamole. Skip the rice and beans.
· Salad bowl with chicken, carnitas or steak, fresh tomato salsa, cheese, tomatillo green-chili salsa, and light queso blanco, without the rice or beans.
Even though Panera Bread is a bakery, they have many items that you can modify to make them keto-friendly. (7)
· Chipotle chicken, scrambled egg, and avocado wrap in a bowl without the whole grain wrap
· Sausage or bacon, scrambled egg and cheese in a bowl without the ciabatta bun or brioche roll
· Caesar salad with chicken and olive oil dressing, without the croutons or side
· Greek Salad with chicken, without any sides
· Turkey sandwich in a bowl, without the bread
· Chipotle chicken avocado melt without the bread
Wendy's is another fast food restaurant that has several menu items you can change to suit your keto diet. The easiest option is to go bunless with the burgers and choose grilled meats in lettuce wraps. Leave out the sides of fries, tortilla chips, and condiments like ketchup. Here is what you can order. (8)
· Breakfast Baconator, without the bun and ketchup
· Bacon or sausage, egg, and cheese, without the bun
Lunch or Dinner
· Dave's double hamburger as a lettuce wrap, without the bun and ketchup
· Pretzel Bacon Pub Double in a bowl, without the pretzel bun, honey mustard and crispy fried onions
· Grilled Jalapeno popper sandwich in a bowl, without the bun
· Southwest Avocado grilled chicken salad, without the dressing
· Parmesan Caesar Salad, with one packet of dressing
You can customize the Subway menu to make your favorite fast food options that are not only healthy but perfect for your ketogenic diet. Order your sub or breakfast sandwiches without the bread for a low-carb option. (9)
· Bacon, egg and cheese, without the flatbread
· Black forest ham, egg and cheese, without the flatbread
· Steak, egg and cheese, without the flatbread
· Spicy Italian salad or a tuna salad
· Choose from their protein bowls that come with veggies but without the sub so that they are low in carbs – Italian B.M.T., oven-roasted chicken, steak and cheese, turkey breast, or tuna. The sweet onion chicken teriyaki protein bowl and the meatball marinara contain more carbohydrates (about 33 grams) than other protein bowls, so choose accordingly.
· You can turn any sandwich into a bowl at Subway like the chicken and bacon ranch melt, subway club sandwich, or the cold cut combo. For dressing and sauces, opt for guac, mayonnaise, Subway vinaigrette, or chipotle Southwest sauces instead of the honey mustard and sweet onion sauce as they contain more carbs.
Jimmy John's has made eating keto fast food easier by offering Unwich, which is your favorite sandwich as a lettuce wrap instead of the bread. This means you have a fast food meal with low grams of carbs that fit right in with your keto diet. (10)
· Pick any unwich from Jimmy John's menu such as the tuna salad, turkey, Italian, big John, bootlegger or turkey tom, which contain 2 to 5 grams of net carbs.
· Country club, beach club, club tuna, and JJ gargantuan sandwich unwiches contain 6 to 10 grams of net carbs.
· You can even customize your unwich by adding extra toppings like avocado guac, sliced pickles, Jimmy peppers or cheese.
Arby's has a nutritional info calculator that allows you to build-a-meal to suit your specific needs, which works very well if you are on the keto diet and trying to monitor your carbohydrate intake. (11) Arby's also has many meal options that you can pick from to add variety to your meals. Avoid the buns, fries, ketchup, and crispy meats, which are breaded and deep-fried.
· Half pound roast beef sandwich without the bun
· Reuben, without the bread
· Traditional Greek gyro, without the flatbread
· Creamy Mediterranean chicken wrap, without the wrap
· Roast chicken bacon Swiss sandwich, without the bun and Dijon honey mustard
Hardee's is another fast food chain that has a choice of keto fast foods that you can pick for breakfast or any meal of the day. While it does not have a nutrition calculator, you can opt-out of the bread or bun, ketchup, and fries to decrease net carb intake. Ask for a side of salad with buttermilk ranch dressing instead of the fries. (12)
· Monster Biscuit, without the biscuit
· Prime rib burrito, without the tortilla
· Loaded omelet biscuit, without the biscuit
Lunch or Dinner
· Charbroiled BBQ grilled chicken sandwich, without the bun
· Charbroiled chicken club sandwich, without the bun
· Super Star with cheese, without the bun
· Steakhouse angus thickburger, without the bun
Ordering a keto friendly fast food meal at Jersey Mike's Subs is easy as you just have to say no to the bread and remember to order sugar-free sauces. The nutrition section allows you to pick your options and shows the nutrition facts of your choice. Look at the carbs column and remove the items that are high in carbohydrates. (13)
· Bacon, egg and cheese sub, without the bread
· Sausage, egg and cheese, without the bread or ketchup
· Steak, egg and cheese, without the bread or ketchup
Lunch or Dinner
· Mike's Famous Philly, without the bread or wrap
· Big Kahuna chicken cheesesteak, with grilled portabella mushrooms, without the bread or wrap
· Grilled Pastrami Reuben with grilled mushrooms and bacon, without the bread, sauerkraut or thousand island dressing
· California Dreamin', without the bread or honey mustard
· The Original Italian, without the bread
· Any cold sub in a bowl, with the bread or honey mustard
As you can see, a little planning and choosing wisely is all it takes to eat out when you are on the keto diet! You can use the same meal plan concept to order your keto diet from other fast food restaurants like Five guys, Carl's Jr, Starbucks, or In-N-Out Burgers. But remember that while an occasional fast food meal is okay, you don't want to eat at fast food chains too often, as most fast food items are highly processed and high in sodium, which you should avoid as much as possible.