12 Fast Foods You Can Eat on a Low-Carb Diet

Sticking to a low-carb diet when dining out can be hard, especially at fast-food restaurants.

That's because these meals are often based on bread, tortillas and other high-carb items.

Fortunately, most fast-food restaurants offer some good low-carb options.

In addition, a number of items can easily be modified for a low-carb lifestyle.

Here are 14 delicious fast foods you can eat while on a low-carb diet.

1. Subway in a Tub

Subway Rolls are very high in carbs. A typical sub has at least 50 grams of carbs, most of which come from the bun.

Ordering your sub prepared "in a tub" (in a bowl or container), rather than on a bun, can save you more than 40 grams of carbs.

Just request that it be prepared as a salad with olive oil and vinegar for the dressing.

BOTTOM LINE:To minimize carbs while keeping protein intake high, order your favorite sub sandwich “in a tub” or as a salad. 

2. KFC Grilled Chicken

Fried chicken isn't a healthy choice. For starters, the chicken absorbs a lot of oil during frying.

Heating vegetable oils to high temperatures produces harmful compounds.

These may increase the risk of heart disease, cancer and other health problems (1, 2).

In addition, fried chicken contains about 8–11 grams of carbs per medium-size piece.

Grilled chicken is a much better option, and is available at many KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) places. Each piece of grilled KFC chicken has less than 1 gram of carbs.

As for side dishes, green beans contain 2 grams of digestible carbs per serving and are by far the best option. Cole slaw is next, at 10 grams of digestible carbs.

Click here for complete nutrition information for all of the chicken options and sides available at KFC.

BOTTOM LINE:Choose three pieces of grilled chicken with a side of green beans for a balanced meal that contains less than 10 grams of carbs.

3. Coffee or Tea with Cream or Half and Half

Coffee and tea are carb-free beverages.

They're also high in caffeine, which provides some impressive benefits.

Caffeine may improve your mood, increase your metabolic rate and boost mental and physical performance (3, 4, 5, 6).

If you like milk in your coffee, coffee houses and fast-food eateries often have half and half (half milk and half cream) available. A single-serving container has about half a gram of carbs.

Heavy cream is nearly carb-free and is sometimes available. However, it contains about 50 calories per tablespoon, compared to 20 calories for half and half.

Some coffee houses also almond milk. Unsweetened versions of these milks provide minimal carbs per 2-tablespoon serving.

BOTTOM LINE:If you prefer to drink coffee with milk or cream, ask for half and half, heavy cream or unsweetened soy or almond milk.

4. Chipotle Salad or Bowl at Mexican Restaurant

 

A salad with meat or chicken, grilled vegetables and guacamole contains 14 grams of total carbs, 8 of which are fiber.

This meal also provides about 30 grams of high-quality protein.

A high protein and fiber intake can increase the production of the gut hormones PYY and CCK, which tell your brain you're full and help prevent overeating (7, 8).

And although vinaigrette is available, generous servings of guacamole and salsa make salad dressing unnecessary.

BOTTOM LINE:Select a salad with meat, vegetables, salsa and guacamole for a satisfying meal with 6 grams of digestible carbs.

5. Lettuce-Wrapped Burger

A bun-less burger wrapped in lettuce is a standard low-carb, fast-food meal. It's high in protein, essentially carb-free and available at all fast-food burger establishments.

You can further customize your burger by adding the following low-carb toppings or additions, depending on availability and personal preferences:

  • Cheese: Less than 1 gram of carbs per slice.
  • Bacon: Less than 1 gram of carbs per slice.
  • Mustard: Less than 1 gram of carbs per tablespoon.
  • Mayo: Less than 1 gram of carbs per tablespoon.
  • Onions: 1 gram of digestible carbs per slice.
  • Tomato: Less than 1 gram of digestible carbs per slice.
  • Guacamole: 3 grams of digestible carbs per quarter cup.
BOTTOM LINE:Top your bun-less burger with condiments and extra toppings to add flavor while minimizing carb intake.

6. Buffalo Wings

Buffalo Wings are delicious and fun to eat.

They may also be a low-carb option at pizza places and sports bars, depending on how they're prepared.

Traditionally, Buffalo wings are covered in a spicy red sauce made from vinegar and hot red peppers.

An order of these Buffalo wings typically has 0–3 grams of carbs per serving.

By contrast, other sauces can add a significant amount of carbs, especially sweet types such as barbecue, teriyaki and anything made from honey.

Sometimes the wings are breaded or battered and fried, which is especially common for boneless wings. Therefore, be sure to ask how the wings are prepared and order yours with no breading or batter.

Buffalo wings are also usually served with carrots, celery and ranch dressing.

Although they're higher in carbs than many other vegetables, carrots are okay to eat in small amounts. A half-cup of carrot strips contains about 5 grams of net carbs.

BOTTOM LINE:Choose non-breaded Buffalo wings with traditional sauce, celery and a few carrot strips to create a meal under 10 grams of net carbs.

8. Bacon or Sausage and Eggs

Sometimes the simplest breakfast option can be the best, such as bacon or sausage and eggs.

This traditional breakfast combination is available at most fast-food restaurants and contains a minimal amount of carbs.

What's more, eggs can help keep you full and satisfied for hours (11, 12).

BOTTOM LINE:Choose bacon or sausage with eggs for a breakfast that provides very few carbs, reduces hunger and helps you feel full for hours.

9. Antipasto Salad

Fast-food Italian restaurants are best known for high-carb foods like pizza, pasta and subs.

Fortunately, antipasto salad offers a delicious, low-carb alternative.

This salad is traditionally served as an appetizer consisting of assorted meats, cheese, olives and vegetables topped with an olive-oil-based dressing. However, it can be ordered in a larger portion size as an entree.

An entree-size serving of antipasto salad is rich in protein and contains less than 10 grams of digestible carbs.

BOTTOM LINE:Choose antipasto salad for a filling low-carb meal at an Italian fast-food restaurant.


10. Burrito Bowl

Many people regard burritos as a favorite food.

Burritos typically contain meat, vegetables, rice and beans wrapped in a large flour tortilla. This results in a meal that can easily contain more than 100 grams of carbs.

However, almost every Mexican restaurant will allow you to create a low-carb version by leaving out the tortilla and other high-carb items.

This is known as a burrito bowl or "bare" burrito.

A burrito bowl made with meat, grilled onions, bell peppers and salsa is a delicious and satisfying meal that provides less than 10 grams of digestible carbs.

BOTTOM LINE:Choose a burrito bowl or "bare" burrito for the great flavor of a traditional burrito with very few carbs.

11. McDonald's Burgers Without the Bread

McDonald's is the most popular fast-food chain in the world, with more than 35,000 restaurants worldwide as of 2015.

 

Order your burgers with out the bun will reduce the carb content to 3 - 6 grams or less.

12. Red Rooster

Try a quarter chicken on its own or with a salad 

 

Take Home Message

Even if you only see high-carb items on a menu, a delicious low-carb meal can be created at most fast-food restaurants by making simple substitutions.

Although fast food is certainly not as healthy as the food you can prepare at home, it's good to know what to order in case it's the only available option.

Original Article is an evidence-based article from our experts at Authority Nutrition.