|June 28, 2024

Low-Carb Fast Food: 6 Tasty Options That Won’t Break Your Diet

By Sarah Kester
Reviewed by Theresa Greenwell for Scientific Accuracy on 06/25/2024

Low-Carb Fast Food: 6 Tasty Options That Won’t Break Your Diet

  • A low-carb diet reduces the amount of carbs you consume. It prioritizes the two other macronutrients: protein and fat.
  • Many restaurants have traded in cheap, unhealthy ingredients for low-carb fast food options.
  • Need fast and convenient meal ideas? Here are the best low-carb foods to eat at your favorite fast food establishments.

Burgers, fried chicken and tacos — oh my. Fast food options are endless, but they’re not always the healthiest. Thankfully, many fast food restaurants have started offering options for those on a low-carb diet, such as keto.

Below is a selection of low-carb fast food options from popular restaurants, such as Wendy’s, Starbucks and Chipotle. From a quick breakfast on busy mornings, to lunch on-the-go, to a midday snack, there’s something for every craving.

salad in a to-go container

What Are Low Carb Foods?

If you’re following a low-carb diet, the goal is to aim for a carb intake that’s 26 percent or less of your total calories.[1]

This typically results in less than 130 grams of carbohydrates per day.

Research has found that lowering your carb intake may help you lose weight.[2]

On a low-carb diet, focus on eating low-carb foods that are filling and nutritious. You can round out the rest of your plate with the other two macronutrients: fat and protein.

Some of the best low-carb foods include:

  • Animal proteins: chicken, eggs, fish, beef
  • Leafy green vegetables: spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, collards
  • Nuts and seeds: flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, pecans, almonds
  • Low-carb fruits: avocados, blackberries, watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe
  • Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage

grilled chicken

Low-Carb Fast Foods from Brands You Love

Savor this list of low-carb fast food options that won’t break your diet.

Starbucks Sous Vide Egg Bites

Starbucks has earned a reputation for offering delicious and healthy low-carb meals. One of the coffee spot’s most popular options is its sous vide egg bites, which come in three mouth-watering flavors.

The bacon and gruyere sous vide egg bites are a crowd-pleaser for a litany of reasons. It’s low in carbs (9 grams) and high in protein (19 grams). Most importantly, it features cheese and bacon.[3] If you’re feeling ambitious, you can make your own egg bites at home. These bites taste so good, you won’t believe you aren’t sacrificing health for flavor. They pair well with the Starbucks keto white drink—-another low-carb favorite.

Chipotle Burrito Bowl

Chipotle is a popular hub for Mexican fare. Among the most ordered items on its menu are the burritos. In this dish, a large flour tortilla is filled to the brim with toppings. This includes meat, beans, rice, vegetables and sauce. Sounds delicious but can rack up to 70 grams of carbs.[4]

A burrito bowl is the perfect low-carb alternative. To order a keto-style burrito bowl, skip the tortilla and order your choice of protein, vegetables and guacamole (for healthy fat). Can’t live without rice? Some restaurants may offer cauliflower rice as a low-carb stand-in. In addition to Chipotle, you can order similar burrito bowls from other Mexican restaurants, such as Qdoba Mexican Eats and even Taco Bell.

KFC Grilled Chicken

Believe it or not, Kentucky Fried Chicken serves more than fried chicken. The grilled chicken may not have the same crunch, but it features the same signature blend of herbs and spices.

Another reason it’s finger-lickin’ good? Each piece has 0 grams of carbs.[5]

Keep the low-carb theme going by passing on carb-loaded sides, such as macaroni and cheese and French fries. Instead, munch on green beans (7 grams of carbs per 1 cup) or coleslaw (16 grams of carbs per 100 grams).[6][7]

This simple, low-carb meal goes down easy when served with KFC’s buttermilk ranch. It has only 1 gram of carbs per serving.

Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Nuggets

Chick-fil-A’s grilled chicken nuggets are a slam dunk. An eight-pack has 25 grams of protein and 1 gram of carbs.[8] Each bite-sized piece is a heck of a lot healthier than the fried counterpart. Fried chicken contains saturated and trans fats. If eaten regularly, fried foods have been found to increase your risk of a heart attack.[9]

Wendy’s Avocado Chicken Salad

Wendy’s must’ve had low-carb dieters in mind when its team tossed around the idea for its avocado chicken salad. With only 7.5 grams of carbs and a hefty 32 grams of protein, it’s the perfect salad to grab when you need something healthy, quick and affordable.[10]

This powerhouse salad is made with an array of fresh, clean ingredients. It features lettuce, cheese, diced tomatoes, avocado, Applewood smoked bacon and grilled chicken breast. Everything comes together with a creamy southwest ranch dressing.

Lettuce-Wrapped Burger

Since burgers appear on almost every fast food menu, it helps to have a low-carb menu hack in your back pocket. In this case, the trick is to hold the bun. They usually have more than 55 grams of carbs.[11]

Luckily, most restaurants offer a lettuce wrap option. Or you could eat the patty on its own. It’s not so bland once you dress it up with low-carb toppings like onions, tomato and lettuce. At 0.3 grams of carbs per teaspoon, mustard is a healthier option than ketchup.[12]

Hot tip: Cheese and bacon are high-fat toppings that are fine in moderation.

If you’re on a low-carb diet, fast food isn’t out of the question. Many popular restaurants now cater to those on a low-carb diet. For example, you could order grilled chicken instead of fried chicken at KFC. Or you could turn your normal burrito at Chipotle into a flavorful and filling burrito bowl. Going to a burger joint? No problem. Hold the bun and ask for lettuce wrap instead. Try any of these low-carb fast food options to help keep your diet flexible and fun.

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