The ketogenic diet is awesome and is growing in popularity. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, control an autoimmune condition, or lower your blood sugar, the ketogenic diet is highly effective.
The ketogenic diet is a great diet for a lot of people. But, it’s not the easiest to stick to, especially if you’re in the habit of eating out on a regular basis, as lots of popular fast food options are loaded with carbs and hidden sugar.
If you’re determined to stay on track with the ketogenic diet and still eat out regularly, keep reading. We’re sharing some of the best keto fast food options below, along with tips for eating out and staying in ketosis.
These tips will help you indulge while sabotaging your diet. Let’s get started!
Choosing a Restaurant
The first step to a successful keto fast food experience is choosing the right restaurant.
Finding a keto-friendly fast food restaurant is getting easier.
All it takes is a quick internet search to check out the menu and see what popular spots have to offer. Most of them even include ingredients and nutrition information, so there’s no guesswork left for you!
When you’re choosing a restaurant, look for one that has a varied menu. This makes it easy for you to mix and match to create a keto-friendly meal.
Do your best to avoid buffets, as their menus are typically comprised of low-quality, high-calorie foods. The salad bar is a good last resort, but even salad bars tend to contain lots of hidden sugar and carb-rich options, so you’ll have to be extra vigilant.
Preparing to Eat Out
Once you’ve planned out your keto fast food meal, it’s important to avoid letting yourself get too hungry before you leave. You’ll have a much harder time sticking to your pre-planned meal if you’re starving.
Eat a healthy, high fat snack about an hour before leaving the house. That way, you’ll be satisfied and won’t end up caving in and chowing down on your friend’s french fries while you wait for your meal.
Get Rid of Temptation
If you’re ordering a meal that comes with sides that aren’t keto-approved, get rid of them right away. Swap your fries for veggies or side salad, and order water instead of soda.
Sometimes, you may want to order your meal as-is and then share the non-keto items with a friend or family member. But, it’s better to just get rid of the temptation altogether. You can’t miss what you don’t have, right?
Tips for Ordering
Planning ahead can take a lot of the stress out of ordering keto fast food. If you don’t have time to prepare before heading out to eat, though, these tips can help you stick to your diet no matter what.
Try to be the first one in your group to order. It’s easier to give in to temptation when you hear your friends or co-workers ordering sandwiches and french fries.
If you order first and get something that fits your diet, you may also convince the people you’re with to make a healthier choice. It’s a win-win!
Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions or Make Requests
Don’t feel rushed into making a hasty, non-keto decision. Ask as many questions as you need to make the right choice for you.
Some questions you might want to ask include:
- What type of oil do you cook with?
- What comes with this salad?
- Is your chicken breaded?
It can be awkward to ask a lot of questions. But, remember, you’re paying for your meal, and you deserve to have it prepared in a way that fits your diet. As long as you’re polite, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Keto Fast Food Shortcuts
If you’re brand new to the ketogenic diet, it can be easy forget which foods are approved and which aren’t. Keep this list of keto-approved foods on hand. It will help you enjoy your keto fast food experience without accidentally kicking yourself out of ketosis.
It’s also helpful to keep these basic guidelines in mind:
Choose Clean Proteins
Clean proteins are essential when it comes to choosing the right keto fast food options. Remember, clean proteins are those that are wild-caught, organic, grass-fed, and/or pasture-raised.
Finding these proteins can be tricky, as a lot of restaurants use commercial meats that are fed GMO grains and other unhealthy foods.
This is where your research comes in handy. Try to look for restaurants that only use clean protein.
Your best options include:
- Grass-fed beef, lamb, and bison
- Pasture-raised chicken
- Wild-caught salmon
If your only option is commercial meat, at least choose options that are prepared in the lowest carb way possible. This means choosing grilled, roasted, baked, or broiled meats over those that are breaded or fried.
Identify Low-Carbohydrate Vegetables
It’s also important for you to know which vegetables contain the fewest number of carbohydrates.
Your best low-carb vegetable options include:
- Green beans
- Brussels sprouts
Choose these whenever possible and skip starchy vegetables like white potatoes and sweet potatoes.
As with meat, it’s also important to find out how your vegetables are cooked. To be keto-friendly, vegetables should be steamed or cooked in high quality oils or grass-fed butter.
Fill Yourself with Healthy Fats
Perhaps the most important part of having a good keto fast food experience is loading up your meal with healthy fats.
This includes olive oil (as long as it’s not blended with a cheaper product like canola oil), avocado, grass-fed butter, grass-fed cheeses, and coconut oil.
The tips listed above are staples for keto fast food eating.
You should also keep these other factors in mind to ensure you enjoy your meal but don’t derail your diet.
Drink Lemon Water
Lemon water can help curb your hunger and aid in digestion. It also will help you avoid giving in to tempting, high-carbohydrate foods, and it’ll give you a healthy dose of vitamin C.
If lemon water isn’t your thing, sparkling water, coffee, or tea (as long as there’s no sugar added) are all great alternatives.
Use Caution with Condiments, Sauces, and Dressings
Lots of condiments, sauces, and dressings are loaded with GMO oils, sugar, and flour.
Don’t hesitate to ask about the ingredients in any of the restaurant’s sauces. And, remember that most brands of commercial ketchup contain added sugar — it’s best to steer clear of them.
Tomato sauces also tend to contain added sugar, and gravies and cream-based sauces are usually made with flour.
Order sauce on the side whenever possible to make sticking to your diet easier, especially if you can’t find any information on specific ingredients.
Swap Bread for Lettuce Wraps
You don’t have to forgo your favorite sandwich or burger when looking for keto fast food options.
Instead of ordering it as-is, swap out the bun, tortilla, or wrap for a lettuce leaf. Or, just eat it without any kind of bun if they won’t wrap it in lettuce for you.
Don’t let yourself get tricked by restaurants that offer healthy-sounding options like spinach wraps. These are usually loaded with flour and are full of carbohydrates.
Check the Ingredients for Soups and Salads
Soups and salads can often be good, low-carb options. This is especially true for broth-based soups since they aren’t thickened with flour. Chili is also, in most cases, a good, low-carb choice.
That being said, it’s still important to check the ingredients list and make sure you’re not accidentally ordering a sneaky carb bomb.
When ordering a salad, stay away from tortilla strips, croutons, or other carb-loaded toppings. Dressings are also, in most cases, full of sugar. Use olive oil and vinegar or fresh lemon juice instead.
You should also load your salad up with raw vegetables, sliced avocado, nuts, and garbanzo beans.
Don’t Derail Your Diet with Dessert
It is possible to have a successful keto fast food meal. But, dessert is a different story. Most fast food desserts are filled with sugar and carbs, even those that are fruit based.
Skip dessert whenever possible.
If you absolutely can’t skip dessert, opt for fresh strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. They are lower in sugar than other types of fruit.
Best Options at Popular Fast Food Spots
Keep this list of the best keto fast food options handy for an easy reference.
Sandwiches are, of course, filled with carbs. Your best bet is to eliminate the bun and load up with vegetables instead. Most sub shops will let you turn your sandwich into a salad and give you the fillings on a bed of lettuce or spinach instead.
If you’re going the salad route, be sure to top it with plain olive oil and vinegar rather than sketchy commercial salad dressing.
Fried Chicken Joints
Fried chicken is filled with unhealthy oils. Choose grilled chicken whenever possible for a healthy, low-carb option. With a side of vegetables, you can have a delicious, satisfying meal without loading up on carbs.
Fast-Casual Mexican Restaurants
Fast-casual Mexican restaurants like Chipotle may seem like they’re off-limits. But, in reality, they are great keto fast food options. Their menus are quite easy to customize and make keto-friendly.
Instead of a burrito or taco, choose a bowl or salad.
Simply get rid of the tortilla, rice, and beans and load up your bowl with mixed vegetables, guacamole, and your favorite meat. This is a great high-protein, low-carb meal. You may need to add some extra guacamole to increase the fat content.
The easiest way to make your favorite burger joint a great keto fast food stop is to trade the bun for a lettuce wrap.
Remember to top your burger with low-carb toppings like these:
- Avocado or guacamole
- Tomato or salsa
Skip carb-loaded options like fried onion strings and you’ll be good to go!
Diners can be tricky to navigate when looking for keto fast food restaurants. Their menus are full of sandwiches, pancakes, and pastries that aren’t ideal when you’re on a keto diet.
There are still some good, keto-friendly options you can choose from, though. Your best bet is usually to choose eggs with your favorite meats and vegetables.
Most diners have some kind of make-your-own omelet or scramble option on the menu, so you can customize your meal to meet your needs.
Sports bars like Buffalo Wild Wings are fun to eat at with your friends, and it’s fairly easy to order wings that aren’t loaded with carbohydrates.
As long as they’re not breaded, spicy wings are a good, low-carb choice. Avoid sugar-loaded sauces like teriyaki, barbecue, or anything that contains honey.
Wings also, in most cases, come with fresh vegetables like celery and carrots on the side, so you can get a complete meal without going crazy with carbs.
It’s true that carrots contain more sugar than other vegetables. But, they’re still better than french fries, potato skins, or any of the other carb-heavy options that wing restaurants tend to offer.
Italian fast-food restaurants are usually not the best keto fast food choices. Pizza, pasta, and subs don’t exactly fit into a low-carb diet.
However, you can still find keto-friendly fare at these places.
A good, low-carb option is an antipasto salad. This consists of various meats, olives, cheese, and vegetables and is topped with olive oil or an olive-oil-based dressing.
This salad is usually an appetizer. But, you can order a larger serving and have a meal that only contains about ten grams of carbs!
Looking for Keto Recipes?
As you can see, there are lots of keto fast food options out there that you can choose from. But, your best bet is almost always going to be to cook at home, using the guidelines laid out in our keto meal plan and grocery list.
Are you in need of some more keto cooking inspiration? Check out our recipe search tool.
This free, easy-to-use tool makes it easy for you to find keto-friendly recipes that match your preferred cooking method, level of cooking knowledge, and other specific dietary needs. Give it a try!