I tried keto meals from 5 different fast-food chains and found there was a huge variety in what you can get
Erin McDowell/Business Insider
- The keto diet consists mainly of foods with low levels of carbohydrates and high levels of fat and protein.
- People who choose to go on the keto diet may be surprised that many fast-food restaurants have options that fit within the diet's strict parameters.
- I tried out keto meal options from five different fast-food establishments - McDonald's, Chick-fil-A, Burger King, Wendy's, and Shake Shack - to see how they tasted and which ones I would order again, keto or no keto.
- I found the Chick-fil-A grilled chicken nuggets to be the tastiest keto meal option, followed by the Shake Shack lettuce burger.
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I'm no stranger to the keto diet.In 2017, I went on the keto diet for six months, giving up carbs and fast food in the process. In those days, I had no idea that I could eat a delicious fast-food meal while staying in "ketosis," a state of fat-burning that has been linked with weight loss. Advertisement
Though I no longer follow the keto diet, I wanted to see just what I was missing all those years ago.
I tried out keto meal options from five different fast-food establishments - McDonald's, Chick-fil-A, Burger King, Wendy's, and Shake Shack - to see how they tasted, how accommodating the restaurant was, and which ones I would order again, keto or no keto.From what I decided to order, Chick-fil-A came out on top with its delicious grilled nuggets, which I was able to pair with two different sauces: zesty Buffalo and the chain's avocado lime ranch salad dressing.
Here's the full run-down of every keto fast-food meal option I tried, ranked in order of worst to best.
Looking at my spread of keto fast food, some options certainly looked tastier than others.
By far, the biggest flop of the bunch was the Burger King chicken Caesar sandwich minus the buns. I requested extra lettuce for 15 cents, hoping to make a chicken sandwich.Advertisement
Alas, that was impossible. I received a chicken fillet, a few strips of crispy bacon, a handful of lettuce and parmesan cheese, and one lone tomato slice. It was basically a skimpy chicken Caesar salad with no dressing, plus some bacon. The meal comes out to around 485 calories once you nix the dressing and bun, and it only has two grams of net carbs.
I truly had no idea how to eat this at first. Once I cut the chicken and bacon up with a knife and fork, I found the bacon to be overdone and dry. The chicken was moist and tasted fresh, but the meal itself was an overall disappointment. You would be better off ordering an actual salad.Advertisement
The only salad I picked up for my keto feast gave its best effort, but it just wasn't good enough. From McDonald's, I ordered a Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad with no tortilla strips and no glaze, and I added two tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette dressing. The dressed salad comes to 13 grams of carbs — mostly from the corn and beans — and 350 calories.
The beans and corn had adequate flavor but provided nothing exciting. The lettuce tasted straight out of a bag, and the chicken was flavorless. Overall, it was exactly what you would expect from a standard McDonald's salad.Advertisement
The Double Baconator burger from Wendy's, which had the two buns swapped with lettuce leaves, fell in the middle of the pack. The restaurant made this option very easy to order at their mobile kiosk, and I was satisfied with what I was served.
A Double Baconator with no ketchup and no buns comes out to 760 calories and two grams of net carbs. This sandwich got the job done, but it didn't blow me away.Advertisement
The lettuce leaves were large enough to handle the burger with ease, and I thought it tasted virtually the same as a bacon cheeseburger. In fact, I thought I tasted the salty bacon and juicy beef even more without the bun. However, despite being sandwiched between two lettuce leaves, the sandwich nevertheless tasted greasy and unhealthy.
The second-best keto item I tried came from Shake Shack. I ordered a single ShackBurger on a lettuce wrap and decided to add pickles and bacon to it. While a ShackBurger minus the bun comes to 400 calories usually, adding bacon resulted in an extra 70 calories.Advertisement
The Shake Shack lettuce burger really impressed me with its leafy, fresh lettuce folds. The lettuce was by far the best of the sandwiches I tried. The bacon was crispy, the beef was juicy, and I honestly didn't really miss the buns. Plus, since Shack Sauce has zero net carbs, I was really able to load up on the creamy, savory goodness the chain is famous for.
While the other restaurants made valiant efforts, one came out on top: Chick-fil-A. I thought the grilled chicken nugget meal was the best keto option, even though it was incredibly simple. Since the nuggets are packed with lean protein, I found this to be a very satisfying and filling lunch. This meal tasted much healthier than the lettuce bacon burgers I tried, but was delicious nevertheless.Advertisement
An eight-piece grilled nugget entrée has only 110 calories and two grams of net carbs. To pair with the nuggets, I chose two low-carb sauce options: zesty Buffalo (one gram) and avocado lime ranch dressing (three grams).
Paired with the Buffalo sauce, the nuggets tasted like Buffalo wings, minus the frying. I also loved the avocado lime ranch sauce. Having more than one delicious sauce option to choose from felt like a small victory.Advertisement
If you're looking for a delicious, relatively healthy, and filling keto fast-food option that won't leave you weighed down by greasy bacon and cheese, you might want to make your way over to your nearest Chick-fil-A. Let's be honest — lettuce leaves are not, and never will be, the same as bread.
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