Though most items at fast food restaurants are high in carbs, there are several options that can fit into a low carb diet, including salads, bunless sandwiches, and burrito bowls.
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.
Still, most fast food restaurants offer some good low carb options, and many items can easily be modified to fit your lifestyle.
Here are 12 fast foods you can eat on a low carb diet.
Some restaurants allow you to order your sub in bowl rather than on a bun, which can significantly reduce the carb content of your meal.
Here are the carb counts for a few sub bowl options at Jersey Mike’s (2):
- Turkey breast and provolone: 8 g of carbs, 2 of which are fiber
- Club supreme: 9 g of carbs, 2 of which are fiber
- Chicken salad: 9 g of carbs, 3 of which are fiber
- California club: 13 grams of carbs, 6 of which are fiber
You can order your meal this way from many other sub sandwich shops as well, including Subway.
Simply request that it be prepared as a salad with olive oil and vinegar for the dressing.
To minimize carbs while keeping protein intake high, order your favorite sub sandwich in a bowl or as a salad.
Fried chicken is high in fat because the chicken absorbs a large amount of oil during frying.
In addition, fried chicken from restaurants like Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) contain about 3–11 g of carbs, depending on the specific cut (5).
Grilled chicken is a lower carb option, which is available at many fast food franchises. Each piece of grilled KFC chicken contains 0 g of carbs (5).
As for side dishes, green beans contain 5 g of carbs per serving, 3 of which are fiber. Coleslaw is another low carb choice, with 14 g of carbs per serving, 4 of which are fiber (5).
Choose three pieces of grilled chicken with a side of green beans for a balanced meal that contains fewer than 10 g of carbs.
Coffee and tea are carb-free beverages.
They’re also high in caffeine, which provides some impressive benefits.
If you like milk in your cup of joe, coffee houses and fast food eateries often offer half-and-half. A single-serving container has about 0.5 g of carbs (
If you prefer to drink coffee with milk or cream, ask for half-and-half, heavy cream, or unsweetened soy or almond milk.
Chipotle is a Mexican fast food restaurant that has become extremely popular.
Many people consider it to be healthier than other chains, as it uses high quality ingredients and emphasizes animal welfare and sustainable farming practices.
Chipotle also makes it very easy to create low carb meals.
This meal also provides about 35 g of high quality protein (14).
Though vinaigrette is available, generous servings of guacamole and salsa make salad dressing unnecessary.
Additionally, Chipotle has a helpful online nutrition calculator that allows you to see the exact carb content of your meal.
Select a salad with meat, vegetables, salsa, and guacamole for a satisfying meal with 18 g of carbs, 9 of which are fiber.
A bunless burger wrapped in lettuce is a standard low carb, fast food meal. It’s high in protein, essentially carb-free, and available at many fast food burger establishments.
If lettuce wraps are unavailable, you can ask to omit the bun instead.
- Cheese: 2.4 g of carbs per slice
- Bacon: 0.2 g of carbs per slice
- Mustard: 0.3 g of carbs per teaspoon (5 g)
- Mayo: 0.1 g of carbs per tbsp (14 g)
- Onions: 1.3 g of carbs per slice
- Tomato: 0.8 g of carbs carbs per slice
- Guacamole: 1.3 g of carbs per tbsp (15 g)
Top your bunless burger with condiments and extra toppings to add flavor while minimizing carb intake.
Depending on how they’re prepared, buffalo wings can be a low carb option at pizza places and sports bars.
Traditionally, buffalo wings are covered in a spicy red sauce made from vinegar and hot red peppers.
An order of three drummettes (105 g) typically has just 2.6 g of carbs (
By contrast, other sauces can add a significant number 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 made 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 fine to eat in small quantities. A half-cup (61 g) of carrot strips contains about 6 g of carbs, 2 of which are fiber (
Choose non-breaded buffalo wings with traditional sauce, celery, and a few carrot strips to create a meal with under 10 g of carbs.
Sometimes the simplest breakfast option can be the most delicious, 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.
One 2015 study in young women with overweight found that eating sausage and eggs for breakfast helped reduce appetite.
For this reason, most health professionals advise against a high intake of these foods.
Bacon or sausage with eggs provides very few carbs, reduces hunger, and helps you feel full for hours. Still, it’s best to limit your intake of processed meats, as they’re linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.
Arby’s is one of the largest fast food sandwich chains in the United States.
Though the Roast Beef Classic is its original and most popular item, Arby’s has many other options, including brisket, steak, ham, chicken, and turkey.
Any of these can be ordered without the bread for a tasty low carb, high protein meal.
Order an Arby’s sandwich without the bun or bread for a high protein meal within your target carb range.
Fast food Italian restaurants are best known for high carb foods like pizza, pasta, and subs.
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 as an entrée.
An entrée-size serving of antipasto salad with ham, cheese, fish, and vegetables is rich in protein and contains 15.6 g of carbs per serving, 4.4 of which are fiber (
Choose antipasto salad for a filling, low carb meal at an Italian fast food restaurant.
Subway is one of the most popular fast food sandwich shops worldwide.
In recent years, the chain has been offering chopped salads that can be customized with protein and vegetables of your choice.
One of the most satisfying options is the Steak and Cheese salad, which includes steak, cheese, peppers, tomatoes, onions, olives, and cucumbers. It contains 12 g of total carbs, 4 of which are fiber, plus 22 g of protein (32).
To bump up the flavor even more, try adding avocados, which are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and fiber. Eating them at lunch may even lead to lower calorie intake at your next meal (
Order a salad with meat, vegetables, and avocados for a delicious and satisfying Subway meal.
Many people regard burritos as a favorite food.
However, almost every Mexican restaurant allows you to leave out the tortilla and other high carb items.
This is known as a burrito bowl or “bare” burrito.
A burrito bowl from Qdoba made with ground beef, guacamole, lettuce, fajita vegetables, and fresh salsa is a delicious and satisfying meal that provides just 13 g of carbs (37).
Choose a burrito bowl or “bare” burrito for the great flavor of a traditional burrito with very few carbs.
McDonald’s is the most popular fast food chain in the world, with more than 38,000 restaurants worldwide as of 2023.
Though it’s best known for burgers like the Big Mac and Quarter Pounder, its Egg McMuffin and Sausage McMuffin breakfast sandwiches are also very popular.
These breakfast entrées consist of an English muffin with one egg, a slice of American cheese, and ham or sausage.
Each sandwich contains around 30 g of carbs. However, ordering either of these items without the muffin will reduce the carb content to 3 g or less (38).
It’s also a good idea to order 2 low carb sandwiches, as each one will only provide about 9-12 g of protein (38).
At McDonald’s, order two Egg or Sausage McMuffins without the bread for a satisfying meal with 6 g or less of carbs.
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 nutritious as the food you can prepare at home, it’s good to know what to order in case it’s your only option.