Let’s just be honest: no matter how healthy we try to eat on a daily basis, we all crave some fast food now and again.
Regardless of how you feel about fast food from a health and lifestyle perspective, there’s no denying that it’s convenient, low-effort, cheap, and super tasty.
If you’re trying to lose weight or have committed to a healthy lifestyle, you might think that there’s no way for you to enjoy fast food (see also ‘12 Gluten Free Fast Food Options That Are Available To You‘) without undoing your progress.
However, there are several low-carb fast food menu items (see also ‘The 14 Least Healthy American Fast Food Items‘) you can enjoy without compromising your diet, including some of your typically indulgent favorites with a few simple modifications.
Today, we will be explaining why choosing low-carb fast food (see also ‘The Very Best Fast Food Salads In The United States: Complete Guide‘) might be beneficial for you and recommending 10 of our favorite low-carb fast food options to help you satisfy your cravings.
The Benefits Of Ordering Low-Carb Fast Food
At this point, you might be wondering why we’re recommending choosing low-carb fast food.
After all, fast food is typically packed with other things that most of us consider to be detrimental to our diets, such as saturated fats and cholesterol.
You may also have been told that you need to avoid fast food altogether if you’re trying to eat healthily, in which case you might have been treating even the less calorific items on the menu at your favorite fast food restaurant as off-limits.
However, eating a low-carb diet (as opposed to a low-fat diet) has been scientifically proven to lead to faster and more significant weight loss results.
This means that the fat (yes, even the saturated fat to an extent) is not what you have to worry about when choosing from the fast food menu.
Actually, minimizing your carb consumption is more likely to help you maintain your weight loss journey.
Part of the reason for this is that low-carb food is higher in fats and protein, which help to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
What’s more, weight loss as a result of a low-carb diet seems to be more likely to help shift fat from the abdominal region, which is the number 1 area most people want to lose weight from.
While it’s true that finding low-carb options at a fast food restaurant can be tricky, it’s definitely possible if you know where to go and how to amend your order to reduce the number of calories from carbohydrates.
Here’s What We Recommend:
10 Low-Carb Fast Food Options
Ordering a taco might seem counterintuitive if you’re trying to avoid carbs, and in most cases, you’d be right to limit your taco consumption because taco shells are typically high in carbohydrates.
However, if you look at the nutritional information for the Crunchy Taco from Taco Bell, you’ll see that it’s actually relatively low in carbohydrates.
It might not be the lowest-carb option on our list, but let’s face it, a chicken salad is usually not going to cut it when you’re craving a taco, so the best thing to do is just to choose the lowest-carb option.
While the Taco Bell Crunchy Taco still has too many carbs to be considered keto-friendly, the taco filling contains beef and cheese, both of which are good sources of fat and protein to keep you full until your next meal.
This means you’ll be less likely to snack throughout the day.
If you’re ordering from Hardee’s but are worried about the carb content of some items from the menu, we recommend ordering the Beef Bowl.
Hardee’s Beef Bowl is only 500 calories (not much at all for a fast food meal) and it contains just 55 grams of carbohydrates.
A low-carb diet (which is different from keto) usually has an upper limit of around 100 to 150 grams of carbs per day, which means that this bowl would represent about half of your carb intake on a low-carb diet.
The carb content of the Beef Bowl from Hardee’s comes from the rice and beans.
The beans, however, are also a good source of plant-based protein and the cheese and beans will boost your protein and fat intake, leading to satiety.
The terms ‘low-carb’ and ‘keto’ are sometimes used interchangeably, but there is a key difference between these diets.
While a low-carb diet might allow for as many as 150 grams of carbs per day, the keto diet is much stricter in terms of limiting carb intake, with a daily recommended intake of less than 50 grams.
If you’re trying to stick to a keto diet, your options for low-carb fast food (see also ‘11 Weight Watcher Friendly Fast Food Places‘) will be more limited, but thankfully, the Keto Salad Bowl from Chipotle is here to save the day!
Chipotle’s Keto Salad Bowl contains a modest 540 calories with 30 grams of protein from chicken or steak (your choice) alongside just 17 grams of carbs from the greens and salsa!
That keeps you well within your carbohydrates for the day while the guacamole and shredded cheese help you to get enough fats to remain in ketosis.
Even if you’re not on a strict keto diet, the Keto Salad Bowl from Chipotle is a tasty and wholesome low-carb option that we think everyone should try!
Starbucks may have a reputation for serving sugary drinks and pastries, but that doesn’t mean you can’t order low-carb from this chain!
For example, one of our favorite low-carb treats to order from Starbucks are the Sous Vide Egg Bites.
If you’re not familiar with Sous Vide-style eggs, it’s a French technique that is similar to poaching. The eggs are submerged in a water bath and cooked at a specific temperature to achieve the desired consistency.
In this case, the eggs have smoked bacon and gruyere cheese folded in for extra protein and fat.
Since the only 3 ingredients used to make the Starbucks Sous Vide Egg Bites are eggs, bacon and cheese, there are hardly any carbs in the order, with just 2 grams of sugar and 9 grams of carbs in total.
This is very little, especially compared to the 19 grams of protein and 20 grams of fat.
Much like Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts (see also ‘13 Must Try Drinks From Dunkin’ Donuts‘) is associated with high-sugar, and therefore high-carb treats, but you can put together a low-carb order from this fast food giant by scouring the menu for the few low-carb options.
For those who are trying to avoid carbs but would like to treat themselves to Dunkin’ Donuts, we recommend the Snackin’ Bacon (see also ‘18 Amazing Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffees To Try‘).
Dunkin’ Donuts’ Snackin’ Bacon is basically a pack of maple sugar bacon strips that amounts to just 190 calories for 8 strips of bacon.
With 12 grams of fat and 10 grams of protein as well as 10 grams of carbohydrates, this is a suitable snack for a low-carb diet.
Chick-Fil-A’s Cobb Salad with Grilled Chicken is the perfect meal for fast food fans looking for low-carb, healthy options.
Because this salad comes with sliced egg and a grilled chicken fillet, it comes to 700 calories, which is quite a lot for a salad.
However, the protein from the eggs and chicken as well as the fat in the egg and the volume from the greens will help you to feel full for a long time, which is ideal if one of your main barriers to weight loss is grazing during the day.
If you do want to reduce the calories in your cobb salad, you can opt to get it without the chicken, which knocks the calorie count down to 600.
The carb content would also drop from 25 grams to 23 grams, but we recommend getting that extra protein from the chicken if you want to feel satisfied for as long as possible.
Dave’s Double from Wendy’s usually comes in a bun, which isn’t exactly the best choice if you’re looking for something low in carbohydrates. However, there is a workaround.
The two quarter-pound beef patties and the American cheese in Wendy’s Dave’s Double burger are good sources of fat and protein, which are important if you’re on a keto or keto-adjacent, low-carb diet.
Therefore, the only real concern here is the bun. Luckily, you can actually order Dave’s Double without the bun and get a lettuce wrap instead.
If you order Dave’s Double from Wendy’s without the burger bun, your order will contain just 6 grams of carbohydrates, which is not only low-carb but keto-friendly.
Conversely, it will provide 49 grams of fat and a very respectable 44 grams of protein. Removing the bun also removes a lot of calories, bringing the total down to 630.
Another fast food burger we recommend if you’re on a low-carb diet is the Protein Style Burger from In N Out.
In N Out’s Protein Style Burger has been specifically added to the fast food restaurant’s menu for those who are trying to consume more protein and fewer carbohydrates.
It’s great to see options like these becoming more popular in fast food!
Ordering the Protein Style Burger from In N Out basically means you can choose your favorite burger from the chain (they all have different nutritional information depending on the size of the patty and how much cheese you get) wrapped in lettuce instead of sandwiched in a bun.
This will mean a lower-calorie meal with a higher protein to carb ratio, which is perfect for weight loss and building lean muscle.
McDonald’s certainly doesn’t have a reputation for its low-carb options, but just like at In N Out and Wendy’s, you can continue to enjoy your favorite burgers from this fast food chain without going overboard on the carbs if you order without the bun.
Our top low-carb choice from McDonald’s is the classic Quarter Pounder with Cheese, but for the sake of reducing the carb content, we get it minus the bun.
This makes a significant difference to not just the total carbs but the calories in this meal overall.
Of course, in order to stay within your carb limit for the day, you should get the no-bun burger without fries, and make sure any drink you get with your burger is low-sugar, too.
Panera Bread is one of the healthier fast food chains overall, so it’s no surprise that it’s also the home of one of our favorite low-carb menu items.
Even if you’d usually pass on salad options at fast food restaurants, we think you’ll really enjoy this healthy option.
In addition to the romaine, kale, arugula, and red leaf salad, your order will come with tomatoes, red onions, avocado, chopped bacon, and a hard boiled egg.
That’s 3 sources of fat and two sources of protein with 27 grams of carbohydrates out of a total 500 calories!
Contrary to popular belief, the concepts of ‘fast food’ and ‘low-carb’ are not mutually exclusive!
Plenty of fast food chains (see also ‘14 Best Southern American Fast-Food Chains‘) now provide high-protein salads and snacks that are also high in fat and low in carbs, making them ideal choices for low-carb or even keto diets.
Additionally, you can cut down your carb intake by ordering your favorite fast food burger without the bun, ensuring that you can treat yourself without ruining your weight loss progress!