Making overnight chia pudding or adding egg poppers to your meal prep process ensures having homemade keto breakfast options ready to eat at mealtime. But there are mornings when you're on the go, seeking something light, and your only options are fast food.
So do you begin an unintended fast, give into the various starchy morning selections littering every drive-thru menu, or is there a way to keep it keto while eating fast food breakfasts?
Finding suitable fare is crucial when following a low-carb, high-fat diet. Think about it: sipping on certain lattes and other beverages, alone, is enough to kick you out of ketosis and spur on unwanted sugar and carb cravings quickly. And that’s before considering the contents of traditional breakfast sandwiches with their high-glycemic buns, rolls, and biscuits.
Fortunately, outlets are listening to the demands of the keto-conscious consumer and offering flexibility to customize their traditionally high-carb selections to accommodate the preferences of those curbing carbs and minding their macros closely for weight loss.
We'll take a look at some popular fast-food breakfast options at ubiquitous chains like McDonald's and Chick-Fil-A to share options you're most likely able to access locally or when traveling throughout the country.
1 - McDonald's
The McDonald's breakfast menu is offered all day in some locations, especially rest stops, because the items are trendy no matter the time of day. However, their traditional breakfast sandwiches and hotcakes contain loads of carbs and unwanted sugars that you'll surely want to avoid when following a low-carb, high-fat diet.
Here are a few suggestions to convert some of your favorite—otherwise forbidden—brekky items from Mickey D's to fantastic keto-friendly offerings with some minor customization:
- Sausage McMuffin: Requesting keto modifications doesn't have to be complicated. In this case, just ask them to hold the bun, and you're all set with an option that costs less than 2 dollars with a reasonable 2 grams of net carbs per serving!
- Egg McMuffin: Holding the bun, or English muffin, solves many challenges of ordering breakfast food on the go when limiting carbs. It's not like you'll miss anything without the bread, as this deconstructed sandwich offers a hearty combination of fat and protein with Canadian bacon and a rounded egg topped with melted American cheese.
- Sausage, Egg & Cheese McMuffin: This bunless breakfast bundle offers a well-rounded meal with minimal carbs. You'll get a classic McDonald's sausage patty, a rounded egg, and a melted slice of cheese. This option offers an excellent balance of fat and protein that won't weigh you down.
- Bacon, Egg, & Cheese McGriddle: We get that a significant centerpiece of the McGriddle is the cakes we'll want to omit, but all is not lost because what's left is a fluffy folded egg, crispy bacon, and creamy cheese. Enjoy!
- Steak, Egg, & Cheese Biscuit (sans biscuit): Ditch the bread and enjoy the satisfying filling of a fluffy folded egg, savory steak patty, cheese, and slightly-sweet grilled onions. Yum!
- Egg White Delight McMuffin (sans English muffin): Try this hearty option that caps cholesterol a bit using egg whites. You'll, of course, want to omit the muffin to mitigate carb macros, but no worries, the Canadian bacon, cheese, and eggs are satiating on their own.
- Bacon, Egg, and Sausage (ordered à la carte): Pack a platter high with a single or double portion of bacon, eggs, and sausage. You can adjust the size of your order to suit your hunger level or prepare ahead and get a more significant amount to enjoy in multiple sittings.
- Two Sausage Burritos (no tortillas): Choose this option if you love a savory breakfast bowl that won't stretch your macro budget to the limits on your first meal of the day. This selection comes with golden scrambled eggs, seared sausage crumbles, green chiles, and flavorful onions—delicious!
- Biscuit Sandwiches: Convert any of the venue's biscuit sandwiches to a keto-friendly option by nixing the bread to mitigate the carbs.
More known for being a late-night noshing spot, you can also secure a selection ideal for a morning meal by simply eliminating the potatoes from their mini skillet—for a savory dish with limited carbs.
Opt for an “egg and steak breakfast burrito, low carb" (a.k.a., Egg and Chicken Breakfast) for a dish filled with delicious and satiating ingredients like chicken, eggs, pico de gallo, and melted cheese.
With a value of one net carb a serving and loads of protein and fat, it's the perfect way to power the start of your day.
Consider grabbing some savory sou vide egg bites when ordering your morning brew at Starbucks, as they contain the least carbs of any item on their menu at 9 grams per serving.
Also, check out our article on Enjoying Starbucks on a Keto Diet to take the confusion out or ordering all your favorite snacks and beverages.
The grilled chicken nugget is beloved by frequenters of this venue, and popping a few with mayo or mustard undoubtedly won't impact glucose. But you can also opt for a sausage egg and cheese breakfast sandwich, without the bun (2g net carbs) or a bacon egg and cheese breakfast sandwich, without the bun (1g net carbs), for a couple of classic morning selections minus the unwanted carbs.
Plus, you can source a keto-friendly breakfast option on the road at virtually any venue once you follow some core guidelines.
- Ask for dressings on the side to avoid consuming added sugars and to consciously decide the portion you eat with a given serving.
- Focus on eating meat, cheese, and veggies, and you're likely to land on selections perfect for a diet mitigating the intake of simple carbs.
- Be wary of breaded and battered fried foods; they're likely cooked in subprime oils containing hydrogenated fats and coated with starchy refined crumbs sure to kick you out of ketosis.
- As you've probably already gleaned, you can convert many traditionally high-carb options to keto-friendly fare by eliminating the bun or biscuit used in the original pairing.
Without fail, ditching the bun in any dish is always an ideal approach to curtail carb and sugar intake while following a low-carb, high-fat diet.
- Choose your salads wisely to avoid the pesky dried fruits, honey-roasted nuts, and sugar-filled dressings included in most fast-food options. Instead, reach for salads with simple and clean whole food ingredients and keep a close eye on dressing selections so as not to sabotage an otherwise keto-compliant meal.
- Avoid frequenting venues that don't post their menus and nutritional facts to prevent a potential situation where you're left to order unprepared among a litany of sugar-filled choices, no less—a recipe for dietary disaster.
Eating out for breakfast doesn't have to be a hassle when following a ketogenic diet, especially as the popularity of the eating approach continues to rise and accessibility to even fast-food options broadens.
You can find many large food chains in every state that offer a contiguous and predictable set of offerings so that you can plan your dietary budget accordingly.
Even if skipping the bun and avoiding common condiments loaded with sugar like ketchup are the only tips you remember from this post, you're off to a great start as many derail at the hands of consuming either when eating out.
Honestly, planning is the key to successfully eating fast food breakfast on keto.
Consider where you're going, analyze typical standing menu options and how willing they are to customize your meal to avoid overt sugars and carbs, and make the best choice with all things considered.
Again, eat healthy fats and protein as a fundamental rule, and add in sauces or sides with discretion to keep carbs and unwanted cravings at bay.
With a bit of consideration and making choices that keep ketosis in mind, you’ll find it possible to visit your favorite fast-food spots occasionally without compromising your weight loss goals in the process.