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Are you on the Keto Diet, traveling on vacation or maybe you’re trying to cut down on your carbs for the sake of finally showing off those six-pack abs once and for all? Lettuce celebrate that you’ve been good on your spectacular low-carb diet with these best low carbs fast food options.
If you are serious about losing weight, you will find that it is not that easy to find many options for a low carb diet. And when it comes to fast-foods, most of the veggies and the proteins come inside a bun – often the meat is battered or breaded and oozing carbs.
As a general rule, it is way better to prepare your own meals at home. But sometimes it just so happens that that convenience and affordability is not available to you, and then what must you do? You will then have to consider fast foods as your next bet.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, over 50 million Americans make that choice each day. In fact, over 44% of them indulge in fast foods at least once a week, and 34% of American kids visit their favorite food chain every day!
Eating habitually at fast food joints is revealing high obesity rates in the US. Already 20% of kids are classified as obese, according to the statistics coming from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
When it comes to having a really cool, chilled weekend with your friends, it can be pretty tricky sticking to a low-carb diet, and even more so if the fast food venues are part of the fun.
It’s difficult for dieters because the foods on offer often consist of bread and hot chips and tortillas and stuff like that, high carb stuff. Don’t give up though, because there are some good low carb choices to choose from if you are trying to eat more healthily and to lose weight. Let’s look at some of the best low carb foods you can enjoy.
Best Low Carb Fast Food Options
1. Sub in a tub
The sub sandwiches are high in carbs, and a typical one consists of at least 50 grams which come from the bun. If you order your sub in a container rather than the bun, you lose at least 50 grams of carbs and get more healthful fiber in. Instead of a bun next time ask for your sub in a tub and request that it be served as a salad, made with olive oil and vinegar for your dressing.
2. Kentucky Fried Chicken
We all know that fried chicken isn’t the healthiest of choices if you are trying to trim down, and we know that when it comes to fast foods, a lot of oil gets absorbed while being fried.
On top of that, heating the vegetable oils to such high temperatures also produces some pretty harmful compounds, which doesn’t promote good heart health. Fried chicken consists of around 8-11 grams of carbs in just a medium size piece.
Grilled chicken is a much better choice, and the grilled pieces are available at many of the KFC outlets. A grilled piece of chicken has less than 1 gram of carbs in it. The side dishes which are usually green beans or coleslaw have around 2 and 10 grams of carbs respectively in them.
3. Tea and coffee with cream
Coffee and tea are both carb-free beverages and high in caffeine, which improves the mood and increases the metabolic rate, boosting mental and physical performance.
If you like some milk in your coffee, most of the fast food outlets usually serve half milk or half cream in the coffee consisting of half a gram of carbs. If its heavy cream, it is just about carb fee, although it does contain some 50 calories in a tablespoon of cream.
Some coffee houses will offer soy milk or almond milk and unsweetened versions of these provide a minimum of carbs per 2 tablespoons.
4. Chipotle salad or bowl
Not everyone is acquainted with this fast food meal, but these Mexican fast food restaurants are trendy. Lots of people consider them as being healthier than a lot of other fast food chains because they use high-quality ingredients and also emphasize animal welfare and sustainable farming practices.
Definitely worth supporting, and Chipotle also just makes it so easy to create low carb meals. So you can have a salad with chicken or meat, some grilled veggies, and guacamole and you will have chowed down only 14 grams of carbs which are all fiber, plus the high-quality protein. Chipotle also has an online nutrition calculator which allows you to see the exact amount of carbs you get in each meal.
5. Lettuce-wrapped burgers
A burger that is bun-less but rather wrapped in lettuce makes for a regular low carb meal, which is high in protein and carb free, available at most fast food burger places.
You can even customize your burger some more by adding other available toppings, according to your personal preferences, such as cheese, bacon, mayo, mustard, tomatoes, onion, and guacamole.
The bun-less burger with the condiments and extra toppings just add flavor but minimize the carbs.
6. Power breakfast bowl at Panera Bread
What is Panera Bread? It’s a typical café-style fast-food restaurant where all sorts of lovely homey foods such as sandwiches, pastries, soups, and salads and special drinks are sold.
Usually, the breakfast foods are high in carbs, but they have a special menu of all their health options, which work very well for the person seeking low carb options. For instance, there’s the “Power Breakfast Egg Bowl with Steak,” which will give you two eggs, some steak, avocado, and tomato.
The carbs consist of 4 grams, but you get 20 grams of protein, that’s a hearty, robust, healthy breakfast to give you energy and zest to last you probably even past lunch time! You also get something such as the “Power Breakfast Egg White Bowl with Turkey” which contains egg whites, bell peppers, spinach, and basil, consisting of 7 grams of carbs and 25 grams of protein.
You can’t really go wrong with this, because it is basically starting the day with a high-protein breakfast which promotes a feeling of fullness, keeping you going and decreasing your appetite by reducing the levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, in your body.
7. Bountiful buffalo wings
Buffalo wings are simply delicious. You might find these as low carb options at some pizza places and some sports bars. It will depend on how they have been prepared though; some traditionally prepared ones are covered in sweet n spicy sauce made from hot red peppers and vinegar.
If you order these, you get around 3 grams of carbs per serving. Sometimes there will be other sauces added which can significantly increase the number of carbs, especially the sweet ones such as sweet barbeque or teriyaki; in fact anything made from honey.
The wings, too, are often covered in crispy batter and fried up, particularly the boneless wings. You need to ask your waitrons how the wings have been prepared so that yours are without batter or honey.
Buffalo wings often are served with celery or carrots, and although the veggies are higher in carbs than some other veggies, small amounts shouldn’t be too bad. Just half cup of carrot strips will contain around 5 grams of carbs.
8. Bacon or sausage and eggs
Sometimes enjoying the simplest of breakfast options can be your best bet when it comes to fast foods, and sometimes the traditional breakfast of sausage or bacon and eggs is the winner because you will also find them available at most fast-food outlets.
The good news too is that they have a minimal amount of carbs, with eggs keeping you satisfied and full, lasting for hours, keeping your brain alert for the demands of the day. Studies show that those who eat eggs for breakfast ate fewer calories in the subsequent meals.
9. Arby’s Sandwich but without the bun or bread
In the US, Arby’s ranks as one of the largest fast-food sandwich chains. They have a delectable sandwich known as the “Roast Beef Classic,” their most original offering and their most popular. But they have many other offerings which are just as good such as their steak, ham, brisket, turkey, and chicken sandwiches.
If you want to keep your carbs right down, you can order any of these without the bread, ending up with a low carb, very tasty high protein meal. Look on their website too, because they offer a nutrition calculator, so you can customize your order to keep your carbs down or at least within your target range.
So you could, for instance, choose the Smokehouse Brisket with Gouda cheese, some sauce over and include a side salad for 5 grams of digestible carbs but a great amount of protein, around 32 grams.
Additionally, Arby’s also offer their “Roast Turkey Farmhouse Salad.” This consists of roast turkey, cheese, bacon, cheese, mixed greens, and tomatoes, containing 8 grams of carbs, 2 of which consist of fiber with 22 grams of protein.
Just don’t confuse this with the “Crispy Chicken Farmhouse Salad,” because that one has chicken that has been breaded and fried and contains 26 grams of carbs.
Italian fast-food restaurants are very, very popular when it comes to our fave foods such as pizza, subs, and pasta; real comfort foods that make us feel good and comforted when days are tough and hectic. But fortunately, if you are trying to keep your weight down, you should put aside the pasta and the pizza.
But to your rescue comes the antipasto salad, packed with deliciousness. This salad is served traditionally as an appetizer. It consists of a variety of meats, olives, cheese, and veggies, topped with a dressing made from olive oil.
Even though it’s usually served as an appetizer, you can go ahead and order a larger portion of this mouth-watering salad. The salad is rich in protein and offers no more than 10 grams of digestible carbs.
11.Subway double chicken chopped salad
You won’t really find more popular fast food shops that sell sandwiches than you do Subway. In recent years, Subway has also been offering chopped salads that they allow customers to customize with veggies and proteins of their choice.
People can’t resist the nutritious “Double Chicken Chopped Salad with Avocado.” containing only 10 grams of carbs, of which 4 are full of fiber and a whopping 36 grams of protein. Avocados are Nature’s wonder food, full of monounsaturated fiber and fats to keep your heart healthy.
The salad is so filling that your next meal might be low in calories because you won’t even be so hungry. Check out the list of salads you can choose from the Subway site with plenty of information on the nutrition details.
12. Burrito Bowl
How people love this meal! Maybe you are not sure what a burrito is, but it’s a Mexican dish. It consists of a tortilla which is rolled around a savory filling, usually consisting of beans or minced beef, sometimes other vegetables, and rice.
You would expect such a meal to have a lot of carbs in it, but most of the Mexican restaurants allow you to create your own low-carb version of the burrito, for instance like leaving the tortilla out and some of the other high carb foods.
When you next order a burrito, remember to ask for the burrito bowl or the ‘bare’ burrito.’ The burrito bowl consists of meat, bell peppers, grilled onions with salsa – so delicious and satisfying, providing you with less than 10 grams of digestible carbs.
13. McDonald’s Breakfast Sandwich – just leave out the bread
We all know and recognize the big yellow M for McDonald’s, one of the most popular fast-food chains in the world; thousands and thousands of McDonald’s are found across the whole world, so well-known for their burgers like the Quarter Pounders or the Big Mac.
You also get meals like the Egg McMuffin or the Sausage McMuffin which are so popular, especially at breakfast time. Usually, the breakfast entrée consists of an egg, an English muffin, some ham or sausage and some American cheese with the sandwich comprising around 29 grams of carbs.
But if you order any of the above without the muffin, you straight away reduce the carb content to around 2 grams or so. Order two of the low carb sandwiches as each one only as about 12 grams of protein – remember without the bread though. If you order two, you will get 24 grams of protein.
Plan on staying healthy
Even though you might only see high-carb foods on fast food menus, you can create your own delicious low-carb meal at most of the fast-food restaurants just by making a few simple substitutions.
Even though fast foods are not as healthy as what you prepare at home, it is always good to know that you can build your own low carb ‘guilt-free’ meal. Even though it is not recommended that you make fast foods the staple of your weight loss program, it is comforting to know when you are on vacation or on the road, and you need a low-cost, low carb meal; you can at least make a plan. Just remember to follow these tips when choosing your low carb fast food choices:
Remember to skip the buns and bread
Avoid fried foods, but if you don’t have a choice and it has arrived battered or breaded, you can peel off the battered skin and eat only the meat. Avoid the French fries because these are high in trans-fats. Studies even show how they can trigger the cravings for even more!
Get your dressing on the side because often the sauces and salad dressings that come with your order are laden with sugars or corn syrups. Choose to have your dressing on the side, or you could always bring your own.
Fill up on veggies: Try and make your way to the salad bar or choose a salad from the menu, topping the salad up with some proteins such as ham or chicken.
Check the nutritional info of your food. A lot of the bigger food chains offer nutritional data about their foods online.
Watch your portions and share your meal with friends, or take half when the meal arrives, leaving the other half to take home and have the next day.
Skip the drinks: Maybe your meal even comes with a free soda, but really, do yourself the favor and don’t drink it – often these fountain sodas are so packed with sugar, they contain more carbs than your actual meal!
If the restaurant or fast food eatery doesn’t allow you to swap out the soda for an unsweetened iced tea or sparkling water, for instance, opt for a diet soda then. Even though these are fine for a low-carb diet, artificial sweeteners can promote a sweet tooth which can lead on to food cravings.
Your body is where you live
Let’s be real for a couple of moments; the fact is, you are not always going to be near a home cooked meal that is all prepped and ready and waiting for you when you get home.
There are going to be times you will need to depend on the fast food chains to keep your hunger at bay. If you are watching your weight and trying to keep the carbs intake as low as possible, this will entail checking out closely your best options to keep your weight and health on the right track.
And if you are on real restrictive diets, such as the Paleo or the Keto diets, you might find the fast food menus downright impossible to choose from. But it does not mean throwing in the towel completely.
When you are planning a vacation, a road trip, or just time out with friends; and you want to keep the lure of fast foods at bay, it is possible to organize your foods and snacks ahead of the time. You could pack a cooler box full of healthy snacks like boiled eggs, cheeses, deli meats, avocado and tuna sandwiches, nuts, and so forth.
Naturally pure clean water is the ultimate refreshing drink, but here is some advice on some other low carb drinks. Before you embark on your road trip, check out what restaurants and shops will offer you low-carb options along the route.
Stay hydrated and remember that the water you drink can also be jazzed up with cinnamon sticks and cucumber slices to give it that delicious kick! Traveling away from home certainly doesn’t have to mean ‘unhealthy’ breaking away from your healthy lifestyle, if that’s how you want to keep it.
Just with a bit of planning and meal prepping, you can survive away from home and still have great vibes, great times, and great fun – but it can only be achieved with a healthy body – honor it with the right low carb digestible foods! Put the junk food in the waste, not on your waist!