For those who eat low carb or keto diets, there is almost always something you can eat at any fast food restaurant or restaurant. Plan ahead. Before entering a restaurant, check their menu and nutritional information online at home or using your smartphone. It’s always good to know the safe options before being tempted by menu items that you shouldn’t have on a low-carb diet.
In order to make it easier to find a quick and keto-friendly option, I’ve compiled a list of several restaurants and fast food establishments and items that I’ve found to be the lowest in carbs (and the most satisfying on the web. emotional level). These aren’t all perfect options, but when you’re stuck with no other choice due to time or location constraints, they will in a pinch.
It is a huge help that fast food establishments are needed to display nutritional content. It becomes easier to follow the keto plan every day. The number of carbs I am listing is approximate and is in NET grams.
In general, there is usually a salad option wherever you are. At burger joints, just remove the bread, and many places offer lettuce wraps instead. The chicken should not have any breadcrumbs.
As a side note, it helps to have a knife and fork handy in your car or purse. Big, juicy burgers in tiny chunks of lettuce end up on the table – or in your lap. Small, fragile fast food plastic items also make it difficult to consume. Take out your own sturdy utensils and enjoy!
Now for food choices … here are some pretty obvious general rules to follow:
- Skip the bun or wrap
- Skip pasta, potatoes or rice
- Salads – no croutons. Stick to the low sugar dressing options – Caesar, blue cheese, ranch, chipotle. Look at the name which may give you a clue, things like “honey” in dijon honey or “sweet” in the name of the dressing – these are usually not a good choice. Check the ingredient for items that are higher in carbohydrates.
- Chicken – Choose grilled or sautéed. Stay away from any breaded chicken.
Mcdonalds – opt for any burger (zero g) or grilled chicken (2 g) without the bread and topped with cheese, mayo, mustard, onions, etc. No ketchup. Add a side salad (3g). Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad or Grilled Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad weighs 9g.
Burger King – same burger info as McDonald’s: burger (zero g) without the bread and topped with cheese, mayo, mustard, onions, etc. No ketchup. The tender grilled chicken sandwich without the bread weighs 3g. BE CAREFUL – you might think the veggie burger is weak, but it has 19g of carbs, which is about a full day of carbs on keto. Add a side salad (3g). The grilled chicken garden salad is 8g without dressing or croutons. The crispy chicken salad is not an option. Don’t try.
BONUS – dessert!?! – fresh French fries are not fried and contain 5g of net carbohydrates WITHOUT caramel sauce.
Subway – You should probably skip Subway if you can. Buns and wraps are all high in carbohydrates. I guess you could just ask them to throw the ingredients in a bun-less package, but that doesn’t look appealing. I don’t have any information on the carb count for each sub without bread, but you can probably figure it out – chicken or pepperoni is fine, but is sweet onion chicken okay? No idea. Stick to salads, but be aware that you will only get iceberg lettuce (4g).
Carl’s Junior and Hardees – This chain offers “lettuce wraps” – your burger wrapped in a large chunk of lettuce for easy low-carb consumption. (Like I said, I tried it and I don’t like it. I like carrying my own fork instead.) Bread-free options – Six dollar (7g) burger, 1/2 thick burger (5g), grilled chicken club sandwich (7g / 10g at Hardees). The grilled chicken salad without croutons is 10g. The accompanying salad is 3g.
Jimmy john’s – The unwich – a sandwich wrapped in lettuce – does the trick here. The meats are good, just make sure the ingredients aren’t high in carbohydrates.
Wendy – Again, you can get your burger in lettuce wrap or a box. Any burger with toppings. Mayo has corn syrup and weighs 1 g. Grilled chicken fillet is 1 g. It can be ordered in the Chicken Sandwich or the Ultimate Grilled Chicken Sandwich. Best salads: Caesar chicken (7g), blt chicken salad with grilled chicken. Side salads aer 6g or 2g for Caesar.
Pizza Hut and other pizzerias – It is possible to get used to eating pizzas without a crust. You have to eat twice as much, but if there’s a party or dinner you can’t avoid at a pizza place, just slip the cheesy toppings on and eat the big pile of messy cheese and toppings. A side salad is a nice addition. Otherwise, just opt to make pizza at home with a low carb crust.
Mongolian barbecue – YES! Fill your bowl with chicken, shrimp, onion slices and mushrooms, then top with Asian black bean sauce. I know beans have carbs, but this sauce label says 1 gram of carbs per ounce (each sauce is clearly labeled). Add a little garlic and wait for the grill to do its job. It goes without saying that you skip the entrees, tortillas, and rice. Ask the waiters not to bring them to the table.
Italian restaurants – These take a bit of trickery, but they can be conquered! Ideas: How about Chicken Marsala in an Italian place? Make sure it doesn’t come with the pasta. Substitute broccoli or another keto-friendly side dish – or a large salad. Chicken piccata is also a possibility.
Mexican and Chinese restaurants are the toughest, because not every low-carb option is the reason to eat out in the first place. In a Mexican restaurant, I tend to take a large burrito without the beans and spread the tortilla fluffy like a plate. Eat the internal ingredients and mix the tortilla.
If you MUST go to a Chinese buffet (I attended a funeral dinner at one o’clock) you can find options, but it probably won’t be your favorite General Tso. How about the salad bar choices? eggs? inside eggrolls, and I even ate inside only crab rangoons. Unfortunately, these ideas leave a bunch of discarded shells and fried outer pieces on your plate and make it look like you’re really wasting food.
Wings everywhere – The standard buffalo sauce is generally ok as well as the parmesan with garlic
Convenience Stores can also be a good option! 7-11 has packages of hard-boiled eggs, cheese slices, thin jims, almonds and pork rinds. Pork rinds have a barbecue flavor and are carbohydrate free.
Remember, whatever you choose, hold the bread, potatoes, rice, noodles, fries, and tortillas. And watch out for the possibility of cornstarch, breadcrumbs and other fillers. With the right planning and the right attitude, you can find healthy, low-carb keto options when dining out and stick with your successful keto diet plan.