The Best Keto Fast Food Options for When You Need to Eat Out
Best Keto Fast Food
While the Keto diet is effective for many people, it's certainly not the most flexible eating plan. The strict rules of high-fat, low-carb, and moderate-protein make it difficult to eat anything but your specifically prepared foods, meaning eat on the run is even harder. But life is unpredictable and your food needs to adapt along with it, right? The keto diet is a balancing act but you shouldn't need to whip out a calculator and to add up your carbs and fat to stay in ketosis. (See also: 10 Vegan Fast Food Menu Options from Your Favorite Chains)
Understanding that struggle, we gathered the best keto fast food options. Some items can be ordered as is off the menu, while others need tweaked to make them keto-friendly fast food, but either way you can walk into these restaurants and find something keto diet-compliant to eat. Dig in!
Between the tortillas, rice, beans, and salsa, keto fast food seems like an improbability at the popular late-night taco joint. But it can be done with some order customization. The breakfast items can be turned into bowls to avoid a carb-heavy tortilla, and you'll also want to remove the potatoes. Order extra meat or eggs if you're feeling hungry for more keto breakfast fast food.
If you ask for the Beefy 5-Layer Burrito or the Shredded Chicken Burrito in a bowl and ditch the beans and rice (respectively) you can also make it keto diet fast food-compliant. Feel free to add lettuce and load up on sour cream and cheese to up the fat content. (See also: 10 Healthy Orders at Taco Bell, According to Nutritionists.)
Good news: Chick fil-A took the guesswork out of their menu by creating a keto-friendly fast food guide on their blog, The Chicken Wire. Any of their breakfast sandwiches can be served without the bun for two grams of net carbs or less. There are also five dressings or sauces that are keto-compliant and their side salad has nine grams of net carbs. For the main event—chicken, obvi—you can order the grilled chicken or grilled chicken club sandwich sans bun or grilled nuggets, all with three grams of net carbs or less. (Related: Easy Keto Chicken Recipes for Dinner or Meal Prep.)
Calculating total carbs on the keto diet is enough to make your head spin. ("If I sub the bun, can I add tomato?!') Burger King made the keto fast food process easier with a customizable feature on their website. You just click on any menu item on their website and subtract ingredients to see the calorie and macro counts in real-time. Using that tool, you can see that all the burgers (with the exception of the Impossible Burger) if ordered without ketchup or a bun came in around four grams of carbs. You can also order a side salad "as is" off the menu for just three grams of carbs. (Related: Here's What You Really Need to Know About the Faux Meat Burger Trend, According to Dietitians)
For a keto fast food breakfast, your best bet is a croissan'wich (ironically, minus the croissant) for about two grams of carbs. And with all the carbs you're saving, you might even be able to sneak in keto ice cream or another sweet treat at the end of that day.
The best keto fast food lunch option at Jimmy John's is the Unwich. It kicks bread to the curb in favor of wrapping the sandwiches in lettuce. Another option is the order one of the 'slims', which are smaller sandwiches with just meat and cheese, and according to the keto reference site, Hip2Keto, each clock in under five grams of carbs. For the 8-inch subs, your best bets are the Pepe, Big John, or Turkey Tom, as all are less than 5 net carbs. Looking for plant-based? The vegetarian lettuce wraps nets only six grams of carbs. And when in doubt on condiments, order mayonnaise because it has a high fat content. (Related: 29 Vegetarian Keto Recipes for Plant-Based Eaters.)
Trying the keto diet tests your meal prep stamina. For an easy keto fast food lunch, try Arby's. The thinly sliced turkey and roast beef are delicious even without a bun. Just be careful of sneaky carb sources like sweet bacon or condiments. To really up the fat quotient, opt for the limited-time garlic butter steak sandwich (sans bun) which has pepper bacon, a filet, and roasted garlic butter...are you drooling yet? (Related: This Keto Grocery List Will Save You So Much Time at the Store)
With their own ordering lingo and heard of loyal fans, this west coast based brand has taken over the fast food burger industry. Their not-so-secret menu has one of the best keto fast food hacks: ordering something "protein style". Protein style wraps any burger or sandwich in lettuce instead of a bun. Just be sure to also ask for it without the sauce and swap in mayo, if desired. (Related: Low Carb Sandwiches You Can Actually Eat on the Keto Diet.)
Chipotle, FTW! The chain has a new lifestyle menu with pre-developed recipes that fit different diets including Whole30, Keto, Paleo, and vegetarian or vegan. There are two fast food keto options at Chipotle—choose steak or chicken with greens, tomatillo-red chili salsa, cheese, and guacamole. And yes, guac is still extra, but avocado is a great way to get in even more healthy fats.
Little known ordering hack, whether you're trying to eat keto fast food or want to limit your extra carbs, you can order any sandwich at Wendy's to be served without the bun or in a lettuce wrap. Ask for sauces on the side—mayo or ranch is acceptable on the keto diet but ketchup and most other dipping sauces are high in sugar.
You can also opt for the half-size of the Southwest avocado chicken salad and still have the dressing for just 10 grams of carbs. Plus, the asiago ranch grilled chicken club in a lettuce wrap instead of a bun is only three grams of total carbs. (Related: 25 Healthy Grab-and-Go Lunches)