Carbs are kind of like a clingy relative. They’re necessary to have in your life, but do they really have to be everywhere you look (sorry Aunt Kay, we love you)? While it’s true that we need some carbohydrates in our diet, all too often we’re consuming more than our bodies know what to do with, so they end up converting them into sugar and making us feel groggy. Whether you’re following a Ketogenic or Paleolithic diet or just challenging yourself to cut back, avoiding empty carbs isn’t nearly as tricky as it sounds. In fact, you can still hit up some great places with your buddies whenever you might need a midnight snack without filling up on fries. Here are the best low-carb items to get at your favorite fast food places.
Starbucks- Sous Vide Egg Bites
How many times has Starbucks saved us from that morning grog? But have you ever had a bite there and then found yourself hungry a couple of hours later? That morning bun is probably (and unfortunately) the culprit. But, you don’t have to give up the green siren just because they offer a couple of carb-laden choices. Next time you hit the coffee shop off, try out the Bacon + Guyere Sous Vide Egg Bites, which are soft, flavorful, and totally satisfying. They’re a bit on the pricey side (2 egg bites is four and a half dollars), but we promise it’s totally worth it (just make sure you’re getting star points for your purchase)! As for drinks, the chain has a way of making 30 pumps of cinnamon dolce syrup sound completely reasonable. But the Café Latte has much less sugar than your go-to flavored latte, with the lactose in the milk complementing the strength of the espresso. We recommend this combo for a morning right before a big presentation. Heck, while you’re at it, why not treat your team members to some Starbucks goodness, too?
Chic Fil-A: Grilled Nuggets And Superfood Salad
Those plastic cows really know how to work those advertising tactics! If you go to a big school or live in a big city, chances are you’ve got a Chic-Fil-A a few blocks away form you, and if you’re anything like us, you’ve taken advantage of its close proximity (we just can’t keep away from their frosted lemonade). While most of the items at this beloved chain are high-quality (hence slightly higher in price), they can also be laden with extra carbs. But the next time you hit up the school cafeteria, see if they’ve got grilled (not breaded) nuggets, and get a superfood salad or fruit cup on the side. The combo is anything but boring, and is chock full of protein and vitamins to get you through your work day.
Chipotle- Burrito Bowl
The delicious Mexican fast-food chain may have originated in Denver, but it has since spread across the country providing Tex-Mex goodness to hungry folks in every state. And just because you want to avoid a foot-long flour tortilla doesn’t mean you have to get something bland. Pick out a burrito bowl with tons of veggies, any type of protein you like (we love doing half barbacoa and half chicken), and practically any topping. You can even add guacamole, sour cream, and shredded cheese, as these are all low-carb and will keep you full for hours. Plus, with these many awesome things in one bowl, you’ll likely get a couple of meals out of it (it doesn’t make a bad breakfast).
Panera- Modern Greek Salad with Quinoa
The next time your grandmother sends you a Panera gift card in the mail, try this energy-boosting salad on for size (or, taste). Panera’s Modern Greek Salad with Quinoa’s got tomatoes, a soffito (soy-based) blend, romaine, kale, kalamata olives, and is topped with toasted almonds and feta cheese. Even just a half size of this satisfying meal is enough to keep you away from the vending machine. Not a fan of Greek salad? Try the Greek Goddess Cobb Salad with Chicken, which features fresh spring greens, homemade green goddess dressing, avocado, bacon, and cage-free egg. Come hungry: these salads almost look too pretty to eat!
McDonald’s-Artisan Grilled Chicken Without Bun
McDonalds’ menu has gotten so big that we hardly know what to make of it, but we have managed to try out the Artisan sandwiches and loved them. But instead of going for a burger at this fast food supergiant (in our experience they tend to fall apart), we opted for the Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich without the starchy bun, making for less mess and more yum. We dig the smoky, grilled flavor of the chicken paired with the special sauce and veggies that only a true McDonald’s Artisan Grilled Sandwich can offer. If you’re looking for a side to go along with your scrumptious meal, see if you can get a pack of apple slices (intended for the happy meals) and forgo the caramel sauce, or if you want something to drink, a Diet Coke or iced black coffee with a bit of cream. Turns out even without the fries and breaded stuff, we’re still “lovin’ it” at Mickey D’s.
Popeye’s-Blackened Chicken Tenders
Last but not least on our list is Louisianan-style fast food chain Popeye’s. While they’re know for their ultra-crispy breaded chicken and their fried pies, we promise that Popeye’s doesn’t disappoint in the low-carb game. We found that you can add Blackened Chicken Tenders with buffalo sauce to your next order via Keto Gal Sara’s (@ketogalsara) Instagram page. This IG superstar swears by ditching the carbs and has tons of amazing Keto and low-carb posts on her account, so we’re definitely taking her word. Pro tip: get yourself a plastic fork and knife, as these babies will definitely stain your fingers if eaten with your bare hands. Despite their floury biscuits and mashed potatoes being some of their best-selling items, we are going after these the next time we’re craving some “Louisiana Fast”.
What low-carb items are you going to check out at your favorite fast food place? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/juZ5dwZBJAs
Anna Livia is a Junior Communications student at John Paul The Great Catholic University. Her hobbies include reading how-to guides on being an adult, exploring the many pockets around North Country (San Diego) and attempting whatever new pasta recipes appear on Pinterest. She hails form Los Angeles but aspires to live in Houston one day for a career in Magazine Editing (not to mention the low housing prices). Her perfect afternoon would include cats of any kind, hot cider, and Malcolm In The Middle.