Keto Fast Food: What You Need to Know about Dining out on Keto

No matter what type of diet you’re on, a situation is going to eventually come up when you’re forced to drive through a restaurant drive through or pop into a fast-food restaurant for a quick bite to eat.  Whether it’s a lack of time and a grumbling stomach or you’re getting together with friends it’s important to know what you can and can’t eat when you’re considering fast food.  The following article will help you make the best fast-food choices for your Keto diet so that your treat out doesn’t ruin the fantastic results you’ve been getting on Keto

Healthy fats vs unhealthy fats on Keto

The Keto diet is a high fat diet; however, not all fats are created equally.  Healthy fats are generally the ones that come from natural sources such as avocados, olives, nuts, seeds, and oils. Unhealthy fats are generally found in processed foods, fast food and from man made sources.  

On the Keto diet you’re generally looking to increase your intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats while consuming a moderate amount of saturated fats and very little trans fats.  The different types of fats serve different purposes in the body; however, trans fats are a by-product of the processing of fats in factories.  This type of fat serves to increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Monounsaturated fats are actually made in your body from the food that you eat.  Extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, nuts, seeds and avocados are all sources of food that will allow your body to produce monounsaturated fats.  Monounsaturated fats are useful in protecting your brain and preventing Alzheimer’s disease as well as aiding in weight loss efforts and lowering your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. 

Polyunsaturated fats are generally found in cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon and sardines.  They can also be found in some nuts and seeds as well as in pasture raised eggs.  The most well-known component of polyunsaturated fats is Omega 3’s.  These fats must be eaten because your body cannot make them.  This is why it’s important to include a lot of sources of polyunsaturated fats into your Keto meal plan.  These fats help decrease inflammation in your body, protect you against cardiovascular disease as well as aiding in the function of your brain. 

Saturated fats are found in animal products and animal by-products.  It’s still being debated as to whether saturated fats are good for your health.  The general consensus is that a little saturated fat is an acceptable part of a healthy diet as long as you’re getting enough of the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.  When looking for a good source of saturated fat look for meat that was raised on pasture, free-range or organic. 

A lot of fast-food restaurants have done away with trans fats which makes your job picking out healthy options a lot easier.  If you have the chance, choose one of these restaurants when you can.  If you need to eat at a fast food restaurant that hasn’t made a statement regarding trans fats you can still eat there, you just have to be more careful as to what menu items you choose.  Try to avoid anything that’s been deep fried as this is one of the biggest sources of trans fats in the fast-food industry today.  Instead opt for food that’s been grilled.  

Fast food to avoid on Keto

There are plenty of foods that you can eat while on Keto; however, there are a few fast-food items that you should try to avoid.  You should steer clear of any fast food that comes with a bun, wrap, English muffin or bread.  This includes sandwiches, hamburgers, hotdogs, burritos and breakfast sandwiches.  There are healthy substitutes that you can choose for these foods that I’ve listed below.

You should also steer clear of anything that has the words “breaded”, “deep fried” or “fried”, instead opting for descriptions such as “Sautéed”, “Grilled” or “Baked”.  This rules out French fries and onion rings.  Whenever possible try to avoid any kind of potato side or rice side, opting instead for sauteed vegetables or no side at all.

Keto fast-food options

Being on the Keto diet doesn’t mean that you have to ignore the lure of the drive through altogether.  There’s no reason that you can’t indulge in the occasional treat and still stick within your Keto carb budget.  The following are some healthy switches and options that you can choose while on Keto.

If you’re craving a burger try a bunless burger

You can still have a hamburger at your favorite fast-food joint while sticking with your Keto diet.  All you have to do is remove the bun!  There are also some higher carb toppings that you should avoid if possible, including ketchup, breaded onions, teriyaki sauce and honey mustard sauce.  Instead of these toppings try adding some sliced avocado if it’s available for an added dose of healthy fats.  You might also want to choose mustard, mayo, lettuce, onions, tomato, salsa or ranch dressing for an added flavor boost that keeps your burger low carb.

If you’re having trouble eating your bunless burger try asking for a few extra leaves of lettuce and wrap your burger in the lettuce leaves to better help you hold all of your toppings in one place.  When all else fails, dig in with a knife and fork.

If you’re craving a burrito try a burrito bowl

Instead of blowing your carb budget out of the water with the wrap that comes with a burrito, why not try mixing all of your favorite burrito toppings together in a burrito bowl?  This allows you to have all of the flavor of a burrito without the pesky carbohydrates.  In order to build the perfect burrito bowl you simply start with a base of kale, lettuce, spinach or some other leafy green.  This is followed by your favorite protein and healthy fats and you finish your bowl with your favorite toppings.  Try to steer clear of toppings such as tortilla chips, corn, sweet dressings or beans.  Although these are popular burrito toppings, they’re too high in carbs for your Keto diet.  Instead you can choose from Keto-friendly options such as chopped onions and sautéed veggies, guacamole and salsa, sliced avocado, cheese and possibly some sour cream.

If you’re craving a chicken sandwich, try a bunless chicken sandwich

Chicken sandwiches are a popular fast-food option when you’re looking for something healthy.  In order to turn this healthy option into a low-carb one all you need to do is remove the bun.  Ask for your chicken to be grilled instead of breaded so that you aren’t eating too many carbs.  Load up your bunless chicken sandwich with fresh veggies, mayo, a slice of avocado and some ranch dressing for a tasty Keto-friendly meal.  Steer clear of any sweet sauces such as honey garlic, or maple.

If you’re looking for a Keto breakfast option, try eggs

Eggs are a traditional breakfast option, and a lot of fast-food chains offer this Keto-friendly breakfast in a variety of ways.  Whether you’re looking for a healthy breakfast, lunch or even dinner, eggs are always a great choice.  Keep in mind that the eggs themselves are Keto-friendly; however, eating them as a breakfast sandwich on an English muffin or in a wrap adds too many carbs for your Keto.  Instead, opt for plain eggs with a side of bacon, sausage and some cheese.  If you can get some low carb veggies with your egg or a slice of avocado, that’s even better!  Steer clear of the ketchup and the side of hash browns.

What to look for in a Keto-friendly salad

You would think that a salad would be a safe, Keto-friendly option; however, the majority of salads you get at fast food restaurants are extremely high in carbohydrates!  These carbs come from the sauces and toppings that are added to the salad.  In order to make your salad fit your carb budget all you need to do is keep it simple.  Choose a dressing of oil and vinegar or a low-carb ranch in place of creamy or sugary dressings.  Avoid croutons and any pieces of dried fruit, instead opting for a healthy salad topping such as chicken, steak, cheese, avocado, nuts or seeds.

Wash down your meal with a Keto-friendly drink

Traditional beverage options in fast food restaurants are way too high in sugar to be allowed on your Keto diet.  Drinks such as soda, milkshakes, iced tea, juice, energy drinks and smoothies should be avoided.  However, that doesn’t mean that you’re stuck drinking water or bringing along your own beverage (although water is always an excellent choice).  Most restaurants will have an unsweetened iced tea option and you can always get black coffee or coffee with a little cream.  You could also grab a cup of regular tea or quench your thirst with a glass of water with some lemon.

Conclusion

There are plenty of Keto-friendly options that you can find in your local fast-food joint.  If you can plan ahead by looking at the menu before you get to the restaurant you’ll be saving yourself a lot of time and grief as well as preventing you from making a mistake in the heat of the moment that throws you out of ketosis.  

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