List Of Low Carb Fast Food
Low Carb Fast Food: Have you ever wondered whether you can really eat at fast food joints and stay low carb? It seems that a lot of people ask themselves this, so we decided to find out how simple it is to grab something quick and convenient to eat in popular fast food chains in the U.S.
I have several years of experience in the fast-food innovation business which, combined with my real passion for food, would help me discover whether there are truly tasty and healthy low-carb options out there in the fast-food industry. Here’s the result of my investigation – the top 11 fast-food places for low-carb or keto.
Sticking to a low-carb diet when dining out can be hard, especially at fast-food restaurants. That’s because these meals are often based on bread, tortillas, and other high-carb items. Still, most fast-food restaurants offer some good low-carb options, and many items can easily be modified to fit your lifestyle.
Low Carb Fast Food Options
Submarine sandwiches are very high in carbs. A typical sub has at least 50 grams of carbs, most of which come from the bun.
Ordering your sub “in a tub” (in a bowl or container), rather than on a bun, can save you more than 40 grams of carbs.
The carb counts for sub-in-a-tub options may look something like this:
- Turkey breast and provolone: 8 grams of carbs, 1 of which is fiber
- Club supreme: 11 grams of carbs, 2 of which are fiber
- Chicken salad: 9 grams of carbs, 3 of which are fiber
- California club: 9 grams of carbs, 4 of which are fiber
Although the term “sub in a tub” originated at Jersey Mike’s, you can order your meal this way from any sub sandwich shop, including Subway.
Just request that it be prepared as a salad with olive oil and vinegar for the dressing. To minimize carbs while keeping protein intake high, order your favorite sub sandwich “in a tub” or as a salad.
Fried chicken isn’t a healthy choice. For starters, the chicken absorbs a lot of oil during frying.
Heating vegetable oils to high temperatures produce harmful compounds that may increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, and other health problems.
In addition, fried chicken contains about 8–11 grams of carbs per medium-size piece.
Grilled chicken is a much better option and available at many Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) franchises. Each piece of grilled KFC chicken has less than 1 gram of carbs.
As for side dishes, green beans contain 2 grams of digestible carbs per serving and are by far the best option. Coleslaw is next, at 10 grams of digestible carbs.
Click here for complete nutrition information for all of the chicken options and sides available.
Coffee and tea are carb-free beverages.
They’re also high in caffeine, which provides some impressive benefits.
Caffeine may improve your mood, metabolic rate, and mental and physical performance (3, 4, 5, 6Trusted Source).
If you like milk in your cup of joe, coffee houses and fast-food eateries often offer half-and-half. A single-serving container has about 0.5 grams of carbs.
Heavy cream is nearly carb-free and sometimes available. However, it contains about 50 calories per tablespoon (15 ml), compared to 20 calories for half-and-half.
Some coffee houses also offer soy or almond milk. Unsweetened versions of these milk substitutes provide minimal carbs per 2-tablespoon (30 ml) serving.
Low Carb Fast Food Breakfast
I walked into a restaurant and asked a team member what I could eat if I was trying to avoid eating carbs. In some places, they understood my question, and in other places, they didn’t. If they didn’t, I reframed the question and asked what I could eat if I didn’t want to eat gluten. Then they all helped out. I have seen a growing trend in knowledge among people in general when it comes to understanding the impact of eating and drinking carbs.
I didn’t set any budget for the orders: my mission was to find low-carb fast-food options that would satisfy hunger when needed. I have also rated the meals on a 5-point scale where I look at the following factors:
- Food ingredient quality
- Value for money
- Overall impression of the dish
Here is my guide to 11 places that you normally wouldn’t think of visiting if you’re on a low-carb journey. Some are better than others, but it is possible to stick to your low-carb diet in all the places listed. Read on to find out which were best!
Dry nuggets and small portions: better reputation than food.
Chick-fil-A prides itself on serving only chicken and is much-loved in the U.S. They are also closed on Sundays for religious reasons and people seem to like that.
8 pieces of grilled chicken nuggets with coleslaw $3.99 (★★) The nuggets were dry and didn’t make me happy at all. The coleslaw was sweet but tasted good. This one didn’t feed a hungry 6’4″ Viking and it didn’t really taste as you should expect for that amount of money.
1 Cobb salad with grilled chicken $7.19 (★★★) The salad fills the tray and you can’t really shake on the Avocado-ranch dressing until you have eaten half the salad.
The store is also famous for its fresh-squeezed lemonade made on the premises. I had a small lemonade for $1.59, and unsweetened tea for $1.35 and an iced coffee for $2.39. If you are ok using artificial sweeteners, the lemonade is very tasty. Personally, though, I could taste the artificial sweetener.
Good salads; very dry burgers.
If I compare the fresh burger you get wrapped up in lettuce at In-N-Out for $3.95 with an unwrapped, bun-less, square-shaped, dry one at Wendy’s for $4.79, it’s a no-brainer. But their salads are actually pretty good and the chicken I got at Wendy’s tasted better than the nuggets I got at Chick-fil-A. The salads are generous, taste good and will fill you up for a while. The only bad news is that is not an easy task to get the dressing on all the salad since it can’t be tossed in because of the very small trays.
Best Low Carb Fast Food
Low carb fast food is hard to come by. Most offerings are full of carbs, whether in the bun, crust, breading, condiments or, of course, fries. As a general rule, it’s best to prepare and eat meals at home, but sometimes the need for convenience or affordability demands you eat fast food. Fortunately, low carb fast food options do exist. We’ve outlined some of our top picks below.
These fast food items are the best options to maintain your low carb diet. Fast food is high in calories or trans fats; therefore, it’s not recommended to make fast food a staple of your diet. However, when you’re on the road or need a low-cost meal, the tips and options below will help you stay low carb.
General Tips for Ordering Low Carb Fast Food
- Skip the Bun: Some establishments let you order a burger wrapped in lettuce leaves, or you can always remove the bun and eat the inside with a fork.
- Avoid Fried Food: Some chains now offer grilled, broiled, or roasted chicken that’s neither battered or breaded. In a pinch, peel the battered skin off of a piece of fried chicken or fish and eat only the meat. Limit french fries, which are high in trans fats and studies show may trigger cravings for more.
- Get Dressing on the Side: Sauces and salad dressings may be full of sugar or corn syrup. Check the ingredients, have it on the side, or even bring your own.
- Fill Up on Veggies: Head to the salad bar, or choose a salad from the menu. Top your salad with proteins like ham or chicken and healthy fats, such as sunflower seeds.
- Check Nutritional Info: Bigger chains provide complete nutritional data for their foods online.
- Watch Portions: Share your meal with friends, or portion out half when your food arrives, leaving the other half to take home.
Fast Food Low Carb
Below is a list of fast food suggestions on what to order and what to avoid when low carb dieting. Remember that the best approach is to make up your mind before you go and stick to your guns. Check out our Mobile Carb Counter & Meal Tracker App to help formulate your game plan before arriving at a restaurant.
Thumbs Up: Minus the bun: Roast Chicken, Roast Turkey, Roast Ham, Roast Beef, Roast Beef melts, Reuben Corned Beef, and BLT sandwiches and the contents of all subs; Chopped Turkey Club Salad with Buttermilk Ranch dressing.
Thumbs Down: Popcorn Chicken; Chicken Filets; most salad dressings and condiments.
Click Here to see a complete list of nutrition information.
A & W
Thumbs Up: Minus the bun: Hot Dog, Cheese Dog, Coney Dog, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, Grilled Chicken sandwich; Ranch dipping sauce.
Thumbs Down: Chicken Strips, Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Corn Dog Nuggets, BBQ and Honey-Mustard dipping sauce.
Click Here to see a complete list of nutrition information.
Thumbs Up: Minus the bun: Deli Subs, Super Stacked Subs, Hot Philly Cheese Steak and Hot Pastrami subs; also Antipasto, Chef, Grilled Chicken, and Tuna salads; blue cheese, Caesar, and oil and vinegar salad dressings.
Thumbs Down: All panini grilled subs, Hot Meatball Sub; Chile Ole and Roast Beef ’n Bleu salads; Blimpie Sauce and Dijon Honey Mustard.
Thumbs Up: Minus the bun: All burgers and Whoppers and Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich; Tendergrill Garden Salad (remove the carrots if you’re in earlier phases); Ken’s Ranch dressing; Ham Omelet Sandwich with/without bacon/sausage (minus the bun and honey butter sauce); Veggie Burger okay for Phases 3 and 4 (minus the bun).
Thumbs Down: Tendercrisp Chicken, Tendercrisp Garden Salad, Chicken Tenders; Honey Mustard and Ken’s Fat-free Ranch dressings.
Thumbs Up: Low-Carb Six-Dollar Burger (wrapped in lettuce leaves); minus the bun: Famous Star, Big Carl™, Guacamole Bacon Burger, most other burgers/cheeseburgers, and Charbroiled Chicken Club; Charbroiled Chicken Salad (lose the croutons); House and blue cheese salad dressings; house and buffalo wing sauces.
Thumbs Down: Teriyaki Burger, Parmesan Chicken Sandwich, and all other fried chicken and fish dishes; thousand island and low-fat balsamic salad dressings; BBQ, honey, mustard, and sweet and sour sauces.
Thumbs Up: Minus the biscuit: breakfast egg, cheese, sausage, and bacon dishes; sausage breakfast burrito (unwrap and discard the tortilla); Chargrilled Chicken Club and Chicken Salad sandwiches minus the bread; blue cheese, Caesar, and buttermilk ranch salad dressings; Buffalo and buttermilk ranch sauces.
Thumbs Down: All breaded and fried chicken dishes; Chick-fil-A sauce and barbecue, honey mustard, and Polynesian sauces; fat-free honey mustard and other low- or no-fat salad dressings.
Thumbs Up: Salad of Romaine lettuce with Chicken, Beef, Barbacoa, Fajita Vegetables, Fresh Tomato Salsa, Guacamole, Cheese, Tomatilla Salsas, Sour Cream, but NO Vinaigrette (it has 18g NC – sugar!). Burrito Bowl with Chicken, Beef, Barbacoa, Fajita Vegetables, Fresh Tomato Salsa, Guacamole, Cheese, Tomatillo Salsas, Sour Cream and/or queso.
High Protein Low Carb Fast Food
Fast-food and fast-casual restaurants build their businesses — and their menus — around carb-loaded burgers, fries, sandwiches and burrito bowls. If you’re following the keto diet, or just trying to control your carb intake, you’re going to want to seek out the best low-carb alternatives.
Step one is to nix the bread or bun if you’re going for a traditional sandwich or burger — they can easily add 40 to 50 grams of carbs to your meal. “Ask for extra lettuce to wrap it in,” says Abby Langer, RD, of Abby Langer Nutrition in Toronto.
Skip the ketchup, relish and barbecue sauce, too — they’re typically high in carbs. “Sugary condiments are some of the sneakier sources where carbs might show up,” says Samantha Cassetty, RD, nutrition and weight loss expert with a virtual nutrition counseling practice based in New York City. And you’ll want to leave out the carb-heavy beans, rice and corn, too.
Low-carb meals at fast-food and quick-service restaurants tend to either be sparse and small or loaded down in fat and calories. So are there any lower-carb options that have adequate protein and fiber to keep you full, while still being low in fat and calories?
Here are 34 lower-carb lunch options to grab on-the-go. All have less than 20 grams of net carbs (ranging 2 grams to 18 grams net carbs), and almost all have at least 20 grams of protein and 4 grams or more of fiber. You can calculate net carbs by subtracting grams of fiber from the total carbohydrate count.
Low Carb Fast Food Restaurants
One of the most difficult aspects of following a ketogenic diet is dining out. And finding keto fast-food options can prove even tougher. If you forget your keto-friendly lunch at home one day or find yourself starving without time to cook, it can feel impossible to find a keto fast-food option that won’t kick you out of ketosis and stall your weight loss.
The good news is, you can eat keto anywhere (yes, even at fast food places) as long as you know what and how to order. This keto fast-food guide will show you exactly what’s available at the top keto-friendly fast-food restaurants, how to order, and how many carbs each option contains so you can dine out confidently.
Remember: You should eat real, whole foods as often as possible. Fast food is for emergencies only.
Keto isn’t healthy in and of itself; it’s the quality and nutrient-density of your food that determines your long-term health. Use these options when you’re in a pinch — not as your main sources of food. Want to find keto snacks too? Take the quiz to find the best keto snack for your tastebuds.
What fast food places can I eat on keto?
- Taco Bell. The people over at Pop Sugar say it’s totally possible to eat a meal at Taco Bell while on the keto diet.
- Chick-fil-A. keto_curious.
- Burger King. Like all of the other fast food choices, you’ll want to order your sandwich without the bun.
- Five Guys.
What is the best low carb fast food?
- Sub in a tub. Submarine sandwiches are very high in carbs.
- KFC grilled chicken.
- Coffee or tea with cream or half-and-half.
- Chipotle salad or bowl.
- Lettuce-wrapped burger.
- Panera Bread power breakfast bowl.
- Buffalo wings.
- Bacon or sausage and eggs.
What fast food places have low carbs?
- Chick-Fil-A: Grilled Chicken Nuggets.
- Chipotle: Burrito Bowl.
- McDonald’s: Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad.
- In-N-Out: Burger, Protein Style.
- Wendy’s: Southwest Avocado Chicken Salad.
- Subway: Tuna Salad.
- Burger King: Double Cheeseburger, No Bun.