Choosing fast foods that fit into your low-carb diet routine can be challenging, especially when you are following a calorie-restrictive meal plan like the ketogenic diet.
The keto diet is high in fat, low in carbs and moderate in protein. It can help you lose weight and improve your health. It involves drastically lowering carbohydrate intake and replacing most of your calories with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. Ketogenic diets can cause massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, along with the increased ketones can result in numerous health benefits. While the majority of junk foods tend to be high in carbs, there are definitely some keto-friendly options also available.
Below are 5 ketogenic-friendly fast-food options to check out.
1. Bunless Burgers
Regular burger meals from fast-food restaurants are high in carbs due to their buns. For a keto-approved version of the fast-food burger meal, simply try to skip the bun and any toppings that have high carbs. Often high-carb toppings include ketchup, honey mustard sauce, teriyaki sauce and breaded onions. Replace those toppings with salsa, mayo, fried egg, mustard, avocado, ranch dressing, lettuce, tomato or onions to cut back on carbs and add extra fat to your meal. The best that can be done is to boost your fiber intake by adding a simple side salad with a light dressing and perhaps a small serving of baked potato.
Here are some examples of low-carb, keto-friendly burger meals:
- McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger (no bun): 270 calories, 20 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbs and 20 grams of protein.
- Wendy’s Double Stack Cheeseburger (no bun): 260 calories, 20 grams of fat, 1 gram of carbs and 20 grams of protein.
- Five Guys Bacon Cheeseburger (no bun): 370 calories, 30 grams of fat, 0 grams of carbs and 24 grams of protein.
- Hardees ⅓ lb Thickburger with cheese and bacon (no bun): 430 calories, 36 grams of fat, 0 grams of carbs and 21 grams of protein.
- Sonic Double Bacon Cheeseburger (no bun): 638 calories, 49 grams of fat, 3 grams of carbs and 40 grams of protein.
Keto-friendly fast-food like bunless burgers are a filling option.
2. Keto-Friendly Beverages
Many beverages served in restaurants tend to be high in sugar. From sweet tea to milkshakes, sugar-laden drinks dominate the fast food menus. For example, just one small sized Vanilla Bean Coolatta from Dunkin’ Donuts packs in 88 grams of sugar which is equivalent to 22 teaspoons of sugar. Fortunately, now you can find several other fast-food beverages that are keto friendly.
There are typically a few other low-carb drinks on the menu, but the most obvious choice is water. If you need something more, here are a few options:
- Unsweetened iced tea
- Coffee with cream
- Hot tea with lemon juice
- Black iced coffee
- Soda water
When you’re following a ketogenic diet choose options like unsweetened coffee or tea with cream.
3. Egg-Based Breakfasts
Choosing a keto breakfast option at a fast-food joint doesn’t have to be complicated. Most fast-food outlets serve eggs, which is a perfect option if you are following a ketogenic diet. Not only are eggs high in fat and protein but they’re also low in carbs. One egg contains less than 1 gram of carbs. Egg dishes are generally served with hash browns or bread, but it’s better to tweak your order and make it a keto-friendly meal. Alternatively, you can order plain eggs with a side of cheese and sausage. An omelet with cheese and greens is another quick alternative that works well and is keto friendly.
The following breakfast options are excellent choices for people following a ketogenic diet:
- McDonald’s Big Breakfast without the biscuit or hash browns: 340 calories, 29 grams of fat, 2 grams of carbs and 19 grams of protein.
- McDonald’s Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit without the biscuit: 190 calories, 13 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbs and 14 grams of protein.
- Burger King Ultimate Breakfast Platter without pancakes, hash browns or biscuit: 340 calories, 29 grams of fat, 1 gram of carbs and 16 grams of protein.
Skipping high-carb add-ons during breakfast like hash browns, toast, or pancakes.
4. Low-Carb Salads
Salads ordered from fast-food joints are often quite high in carbohydrates. For example, a full-sized Apple Pecan Chicken Salad from Wendy’s contains around 52 grams of carbs and a whopping 40 grams of sugar. Carbs from popular salad toppings like marinades, dressings and fresh or dried fruits can quickly add up. Sweet dressings, fruit and other high-carb ingredients should be avoided. To minimize carbs, stick with low-carb, high-fat dressings like ranch or oil and vinegar. Be sure to avoid breaded chicken, candied nuts and tortilla shells as well.
Mentioned below are a few salad options that fit within the ketogenic diet:
- McDonald’s Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad with guacamole: 380 calories, 19 grams of fat, 10 grams of carbs and 42 grams of protein.
- Chipotle Salad Bowl with steak, romaine, cheese, sour cream and salsa: 405 calories, 23 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbs and 30 grams of protein.
- Moe’s Taco Salad with adobo chicken, fresh jalapenos, cheddar cheese and guacamole: 325 calories, 23 grams of fat, 9 grams of carbs and 28 grams of protein.
- Arby’s Roast Turkey Farmhouse Salad with buttermilk ranch dressing: 440 calories, 35 grams of fat, 10 grams of carbs and 22 grams of protein.
These days, there are lots of salad options are available on the menu in fast-food joints. By cutting out sweet dressings, fruit and breaded poultry, you can help keep the carb content of your meal low.
5. Handy On-the-Go Snacks
Carrying handy keto-approved snacks on the go can help you overcome hunger between meals. The ketogenic snacks should be low in carbs and high in fat. If you are on a keto diet, you can have control over the food that you eat by preparing homemade snacks. If you’ve got a cooler in your car you can bring along healthy keto snacks like cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and low-carb veggies. Most of the convenience stores and gas stations also carry a good selection of low-carb foods these days.
On-the-go snacks for a ketogenic diet include:
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Peanut butter packets
- String cheese
- Sunflower seeds
- Beef jerky
- Meat sticks
- Tuna packets
- Pork rinds
The Bottom Line
Research has shown that the ketogenic diet is far superior to the often recommended low-fat diets. Sticking to a low-carb, high-fat diet when dining out is becoming easy. Many fast-food restaurants today offer a keto-friendly meal that can be customized to your liking. From lettuce-wrapped burgers to egg and protein bowls, the fast-food industry is experiencing a growing number of people who are sincerely following a ketogenic diet.
As the ketogenic diet continues to grow in popularity in North America, several delicious low-carb options have started to appear on fast-food menus across the country and around the globe.