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Craving your favorite fast food restaurants lately but you’re trying to stick to a keto-friendly diet?
Luckily, you don’t have to give up those quick, tasty meals entirely. Simply modify your order to omit carb-heavy buns, potatoes, ketchup, sugary beverages, dressings, and dipping sauces.
Need some tips? Here’s your guide to the best fast food keto items to order.
1. Eggs and Bacon or Sausage (Skip the Biscuit)
Many fast food restaurants serve breakfast, but is there such a thing as a fast food keto breakfast? There certainly can be.
- McDonald’s offers a collection of breakfast sandwiches with egg, cheese and either sausage or bacon. Order one of these breakfast favorites without the english muffin, biscuit, or McGriddle and you’ve got yourself a low carb, keto-friendly breakfast. Top it off with a black coffee and you’re good to go until lunch.
- Burger King also offers a variety of breakfast sandwiches. Just ask for no toast bun, muffin, or croissant.
- Chick-fil-A: You can find similar breakfast sandwiches at Chick-fil-A, but there’s also an Egg White Grill Sandwich you can get without the muffin that includes a grilled chicken breast, egg white and cheese.
- Taco Bell: Want something a little different? Taco Bell offers an array of breakfast burritos you can order with no tortilla shell and no potatoes, and just get a delicious breakfast bowl to-go.
If you opt for a fancier restaurant option like Panera Bread, Einstein Bros. Bagels, or Bruegger’s Bagels, simply order a breakfast sandwich without the bread option it’s served with. These restaurants are likely to offer sandwiches complete with spinach, tomato, avocado, peppers, and/or onions to give you the additional nutritional value you need.
2. Chipotle’s Lifestyle Bowl or Salad
So, we now know there are fast food keto breakfast items, but are there similar fast food keto lunch options? There sure are!
Chipotle is one of the best keto-friendly restaurants because you can choose what you want on anything you order. Of course, you’ll have to avoid the tortillas, rice, and beans, but everything else is fair game.
Want to make it easy? Chiptole offers diet-specific Lifestyle Bowls such as a Chicken Keto Salad Bowl or Steak Keto Salad Bowl. Each bowl comes with its respective protein, supergreens lettuce blend, fresh tomato salsa, cheese and salsa.
Prefer to make your own? No worries! Build your own salad and add anything you want from the assembly line of ingredients.
3. Salads with Oil and Vinegar
No matter what fast food chain you’re craving or conveniently near, chances are they have salads available. (At least the ones that carry burgers and chicken sandwiches.)
Rather than ordering a sandwich, opt for a garden fresh salad. You may need to request certain ingredients be omitted depending on what’s included in the salad, but it’s often an easier request than other menu items. To avoid sugary dressings, use your own keto-friendly dressing, or use fresh-squeezed lemon or olive oil and vinegar if you can.
Some of the best fast food keto salads include:
- Arby’s Roast Chicken Salad
- Panera’s Greek Salad
- Wendy’s Southwest Avocado Salad
- Dairy Queen’s Rotisserie-Style Chicken Bites Salad
4. Bunless Burgers or Lettuce-Wrapped Burgers
You may think burgers are automatically a no-go when it comes to a keto diet, but you’re wrong. Much like the breakfast sandwiches, burgers can be ordered without a bun. Some restaurants like Shake Shack and Chick-fil-A will offer lettuce-wrapped burgers as a low-carb option.
The key to ordering a burger from a fast food restaurant is to ask for no ketchup on your burger. Many burgers automatically come with lettuce, tomato, onions, and ketchup. Unfortunately, ketchup contains too many carbs, so opt for mustard or mayo only.
And don’t forget to skip the fries and opt for a diet soda or water. In fact, you might be able to substitute a side salad instead of fries.
5. Grilled Chicken
We all know how delicious fried chicken can be from a fast food chain like KFC, Popeyes, and Chick-fil-A, but fried foods are generally prohibited in a keto diet. If chicken is what you’re craving, choose grilled chicken from Chick-fil-A rather than fried. Omit the bun and fries, choose a low-sugar drink, and you’re set.
You can also get a grilled chicken sandwich but hold the bun, at almost any burger or sandwich joint like Arby’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Dairy Queen Grill & Chill, etc.
6. Diet Soda
One of the easiest ways to add unnecessary sugar to your diet is by drinking regular soda. Rather than ordering a Coke, Dr. Pepper, root beer, or Sprite, opt for the diet version of these beverages. Better yet, order a water or unsweetened iced tea, instead. There’s no need to ruin your keto diet because of the beverages you choose to drink with your meals.
7. Keto-Friendly Coffee
Black coffee is the most keto-friendly coffee beverage you can drink. If you need more in your coffee than that, opt for heavy cream and sugar-free syrups. If you’re ordering a specialty drink from Starbucks, make sure the base of the drink is black coffee.
Popular keto-friendly Starbucks drinks are:
- Keto Frappuccino
- Skinny Macchiato
- Venti Americano
If you really want some fancy, low-carb, low-sugar Starbucks drink ideas, follow @ketostarbucksdrinks on Instagram for ideas.
Is the Keto diet safe?
A Keto diet can be effective for weight loss if done safely and approved by a doctor. However, it can be difficult to maintain and some may open themselves to health risks if not done safely.
According to The University of Chicago Medicine, a Keto diet can result in low blood pressure, kidney stones, constipation, nutrient deficiencies, and an increased risk of heart disease. Essentially, you shouldn’t attempt a Keto diet if you have liver, pancreas, thyroid, or gallbladder conditions. Those doing a keto diet should consult a doctor before starting.
You Can Still Indulge While on Keto
Much like any diet, eating healthier takes some effort whether you’re cooking at home or eating out. As you can see, you don’t have to cheat on your diet when eating out, even if you need to grab fast food.
In general, skip any buns, biscuits, tortillas, rice, beans, fried foods, dressings, sauces, regular soda and fancy coffee. You can still scratch that craving while staying true to your diet.