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Fast Foods You Can Eat on a Low-Carb Diet

7 min read

By Clarissa Vanner

  • Fast food is convenient but it isn’t always healthy and ordering low-carb can be tricky.
  • Luckily many restaurants offer low-carb items or substitutions to cater to your diet.
  • You can still enjoy fast food like Mcdonald’s, Wendy’s, and even Subway by making a few adjustments to your order.

One of the best things about fast food is that it offers convenience but seasoned low-carb dieters know how hard navigating fast food menus can be. After all, they’re often full of carb-heavy options with ingredients like buns, bread, and tortillas. Even some sauces and sides can be loaded with carbs.

The good news is that fast food doesn’t always have to be unhealthy. There are simple ways to order food on the go without derailing your diet. If you’re following a low-carb diet, here are 12 meals you can order from your favorite fast food restaurants!

Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Nuggets

Chick-fil-A is renowned for its top-notch customer service, speedy drive-thru lines, and of course, delicious menu items. Their chicken sandwiches, nuggets, and waffle-cut fries might be some of their most popular options but any low-carb dieter knows this is a big no-no if you’re watching your carb intake. Luckily, Chick-fil-A offers options.

One option is their eight-piece grilled chicken nuggets. According to Eat This, Not That, when you order grilled, the nuggets only contain 2-grams of carbs. Make it a full meal by pairing the nuggets with a side salad but be cautious of the dressings as some are carb-heavy. Chick-fil-A also makes it easy to order low-carb by providing a long list of menu items to choose from.

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Buffalo Wings

Wings are a great low-carb option that is offered at many restaurants, including pizza parlors and sports bars. But you’ll need to be mindful of how they’re prepared.

According to Healthline, the best low-carb option is traditional buffalo wings which are typically covered in a spicy red sauce (made from vinegar and hot red peppers). These wings usually only contain 0- to 3-grams of carbs per serving. But you’ll need to be careful of wings that are breaded or battered and fried. Pay attention to sauces too as some are high in carbs such as teriyaki and any sweet sauces made from honey.

Sonic Breakfast Burrito

Even breakfast menus can be hard to navigate as some of the most popular options are breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, hash browns, and of course, breakfast burritos. Luckily, the next time you’re at Sonic for a quick bite in the morning, you can order a breakfast burrito. The secret is to order it without the tortilla.

Just pay close attention and make sure the burrito doesn’t come with tater tots or hash browns. If you’re heading to Sonic later in the day you can also order one of their hamburgers without the bun for a tasty low-carb meal.

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McDonald’s Breakfast Sandwich

Sonic isn’t your only option when it comes to breakfast! You can order from McDonald’s too. Though McDonald’s may be best known for their burgers and iconic fries, they offer some tasty breakfast options, including the Egg McMuffin and the Sausage McMuffin breakfast sandwich.

These sandwiches consist of one egg, a slice of American cheese, ham, or sausage, and an English muffin but they usually contain about 29-grams of carbs. However, if you order your breakfast sandwich without the muffin, the breakfast contains only 2-grams (or less) of carbs. To ensure you stay full all morning, Healthline suggests ordering two sandwiches, sans muffins. Each sandwich contains about 12-grams of protein.

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In-n-Out’s “Protein-Style” Hamburger

In-n-Out is known for their no-nonsense burgers and the chain is making it even easier for low-carb dieters to order. You simply need to ask for a “protein-style” burger. This hack comes from their not-so-secret menu and simply means swapping out the hamburger bun for a crisp lettuce wrap.

All you have to do is select a burger on their menu and ask for “protein-style” when you order. The lettuce wrap not only contains fewer calories and carbs but you may come to love the extra crunch and freshness that it adds to the burger.

Sub in a Bowl

Submarine sandwiches are another popular fast-food option but all that bread is of course not low-carb friendly. Healthline points out that a typical sub contains at least 50-grams of carbs and that’s mostly from the bun. Luckily you can still enjoy all the same toppings you have come to know and love but without all the carbs.

The secret is to order your sub in a bowl. This option is offered at many sandwich shops, including Subway. Healthline suggests requesting your sub be prepared like a salad and tossed with olive oil and vinegar for the dressing.

Chipotle Bowl

Chipotle is most known for their build-your-own burritos, rice bowls, and other delicious Mexican dishes. While flour tortillas and rice are high in carbs, there are ways to enjoy your favorite chipotle dish low-carb. The secret is to order a bowl and skip the tortilla and the rice.

Since their menu items are customizable, building a delicious bowl is easy. Consider adding lettuce, a protein of your choice, grilled veggies, and guacamole. Healthline says this combination contains about 14-grams of carbs, and 8-grams of fiber, meaning it’s only 6-net carbs per bowl! You can also use Chipotle’s nutrition calculator to help you build a delicious low-carb meal.

Arby’s Sandwich Without the Bun

Arby’s roast beef sandwiches may be one of their most popular menu items but they also offer tons of other delicious options. Angus steak, brisket, turkey, chicken, and ham sandwiches are also popular choices. While the sandwiches may not be low-carb friendly they can be if you simply skip the bread!

According to Healthline one order you can consider is the Smokehouse Brisket (without the bread) with Gouda cheese, sauce, and a side salad. This meal contains only “5 grams of digestible carbs and 32 grams of protein.”

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Wendy’s Southwest Salad

Wendy’s is making it easy for low-carb and keto dieters to dine in or out! They have curated a list of menu items you can order and simple hacks to make your meal low-carb. For starters, you can order any Wendy’s burger without a bun or have it lettuce wrapped.

Wendy’s Southwest Avocado Chicken Salad is also another great low-carb meal, coming in at 18-grams of carbs for a full-size salad and 10-grams of carbs for a half-size, including dressing! Wendy’s website also says a Dave’s Double with no bun or lettuce wrap or an Asiago Ranch Grilled Chicken Club with no bun or lettuce wrap are also great low-carb options.

KFC Grilled Chicken

KFC is best known for their finger-lickin’ fried chicken and you might be thinking how can anything possibly be low-carb friendly at this fast food restaurant? Of course, you’ll need to steer clear of their fried and breaded chicken, but what you may not know is the restaurant offers grilled chicken too. And you have options!

KFC offers grilled wings, thighs, breasts, or drumsticks. And don’t worry, the chicken won’t be bland because you can choose from their low-carb sauces like ranch, buttery sauce, or hot sauce. But the low-carb options don’t stop there. Pair the chicken with low-carb sides like green beans or coleslaw.

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Panera Bread Breakfast Bowl

Most of Panera Bread’s breakfast items are high in carbs but they do offer two menu items that can fuel your day the right way. Their first low-carb option is the Power Breakfast Egg Bowl with Steak, which features steak, two eggs, avocado, and tomatoes. According to Healthline, this breakfast is loaded with protein (about 20-grams), and it only contains 5-grams of carbs.

The second menu item is the Power Breakfast Egg White Bowl with Turkey. This meal offers 25-grams of protein and just 7-grams of carbs.

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How to Order Coffee or Tea on a Low-Carb Diet

Many people like to start their day with a cup of coffee or tea but depending on how you order your drink you may be derailing your diet. You’ll want to avoid drinks loaded with sugar and other additions like syrup. For example, a Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee can contain upwards of 32-grams of carbs in one drink!

The best way to order your coffee and tea on a low-carb diet is black. This contains zero carbs. But if you really can’t enjoy your drink this way then you can try adding 2-tablespoons of heavy cream which contains just under 2-grams of carbs. If you need it sweet, opt for a sugar-free sweetener.


Julie Ching is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator in Los Angeles. She decided to become a Dietitian after traveling through Europe, South America, and Asia and discovered a passion for food. She now works with people of all ages and varying disease states to improve their health. She is passionate about teaching people about nutrition so they can live their best life while still considering their cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

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