15 Fast Food Options That Won't Ruin Your South Beach Diet

Whether you're working on getting healthier this year or need help to lose stubborn weight, there are many lifestyle changes to contemplate. In addition, life can get busy, and measuring food portions can perpetually overwhelm you even more. Suppose you're looking for an affordable diet that fits any busy lifestyle, where you can even cheat with fast food (in moderation). In that case, South Beach Diet is a flexible option that is split up into three phases consisting of simple rules that are easy to follow.

The South Beach Diet is ranked one of the best diets overall with input from health experts. Cardiologist Arthur Agaston created the diet in 2003 to help dieters choose meals more wisely, meaning choosing healthier carbs and fats. The diet is broken up into three phases; phase one is the strictest, where you'll eat proteins and non-starchy veggies for the most part. You'll be limited to fewer than 50 carbs daily for two weeks. It becomes looser in phase two, where small amounts of whole grains and fruits are introduced, and your carb intake increases. There are no food limitations in phase three, but keeping your serving size small is essential.

For the days when you're looking for a quick South Beach Diet option because life happens and you need something convenient and budget-friendly, we got you covered. Here are some low-carb fast food items that will help keep you on track with your diet.

In-N-Out Flying Dutchman

If you live in California, Nevada, or Texas, you're in for a few low-carb treats at this beloved fast food joint. Most people know about In-N-Out's not-so-secret menu. Options include a protein-style burger, where the burger is wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun. Or you can take it a step further, and instead of lettuce, have your patties smothered between two tomato slices. Or better yet, ask for the Flying Dutchman for a protein-packed possibility. It consists of two beef patties with two pieces of American cheese sandwiched between them. It's simple with no other ingredients. Of course, if you add other toppings, that's totally up to you. Adding a grilled onion to the Flying Dutchman for an elevated touch is a great move.

Cutting carbs is a big part of the deal when you're on the South Beach Diet. Without the onion, the Flying Dutchman has zero carbs. If you're in the first phase of South Beach, you'll be cutting most dairy, but once you reach phase two, you'll be good to go with this option.

Chipotle Lifestyle Salad Bowl

Everything at Chipotle is made in-house with great low-carb options. Unfortunately, at the beginning of your South Beach journey, you'll have to skip the burrito and the burrito bowl. Sadly, that means no tortilla, no rice, and no beans. Instead, ask for a salad bowl and choose your meat; the leaner, the better. Go for grilled steak or chicken on a bed of lettuce. Or go half-and-half and do half steak and half veggies for more variety. Sneakily, many dressings may have a lot of sugar, so a good tip is to dress your salad bowl with mild, medium, or hot salsa.

For the South Beach Diet, educating yourself about eating the right carbs and fats is essential. And avocado is a perfect example of good fat, so load your salad up with guac. Remember that guacamole is extra, but it is absolutely worth it. If you add extra veggies, you're looking at a nutritious meal.

Starbucks Sous Vide Egg Bites

If you're in a pinch in the morning and looking for a quick option that won't break the bank or your South Beach Diet, Starbucks may be the best bet. The sous vide egg bite item is precisely what you should order. Sous vide translates to "open vacuum" in French, and this cooking technique helps foods like eggs, meat, and vegetables cook at precise temperatures. The food is vacuum-sealed, producing perfectly cooked steak or, in this case, deliciously fluffy eggs.

Look forward to different sous vide egg bite options. Some examples include bacon and gruyère, kale and mushroom, or egg white and roasted red pepper. The best part is that these three varieties have less than 15 grams of carbs per serving. Once you order breakfast, choose a guilt-free coffee drink acceptable on the South Beach Diet; a fat-free latte with sugar-free vanilla syrup should do the trick.

McDonald's Grilled Chicken and Bacon Salad

The South Beach Diet is an excellent option for losing weight because it's completely flexible. That means you can find some low-carb options there if you are starving and can't make a dinner decision and your kids are begging for McDonald's. Go for the Grilled Chicken and Bacon Salad. Packed with lettuce, grilled chicken, bacon, tomato, onions, and cucumbers, it's a no-brainer. Another option is McDonald's Caesar salad with chicken. However, the one modification is to omit the croutons. 

Once the first two weeks are over, you can splurge a little. Craving chicken nuggets? No problem. The four-piece chicken nugget order only contains 10 grams of carbs. Although be careful with dipping sauces, ketchup contains a lot of sugar, so staying away from condiments is best.

Chick-fil-A Grilled Nuggets

When you don't feel like cooking at home or when a salad doesn't sound appealing, head over to Chick-fil-A. The restaurant chain found a great way to help its low-carb customers; they rolled out grilled chicken nuggets. Enjoy bite-sized nuggets as a guilt-free South Beach Diet option. Sure, it may not taste the same as breaded nuggets, but if weight loss is your goal, this item is the right move, since these grilled nuggets only have 11 grams of carbs. And remember, don't add any dipping sauces.

For those mornings when you need to get to work quickly, Chick-fil-A is fast and filled with carb-free South Beach options. The order here is the Egg White Grill without the bun. It's packed with protein with egg whites, grilled chicken, and cheese. If you're not craving chicken, swap it out for bacon or sausage, and that'll should you enough energy to start your day.

Chicken Power Bowl at Taco Bell

When you're craving Mexican fast food, there aren't better options than Taco Bell. It's also convenient if you get off work late, hunger strikes, and there's nothing in your fridge. Whether you prefer the drive-thru or to eat inside, check out Taco Bell's Power Menu Bowl.

Like Chipotle, it's a lettuce bowl because you'll have to get rid of the rice and beans. Excitingly, Taco Bell's sour cream is low fat, so you can feel good about keeping that in. Shredded cheese, guacamole, and tomatoes are included, making this item a well-rounded South Beach Diet option. When you get to phase two or three of the diet, there are a few other low-carb options, which include the shredded chicken mini quesadilla and even the Doritos Locos Taco, with 13 grams of carbs. Not bad when your daily intake is less than 50 carbs a day.

Wendy's Apple Pecan Salad

The South Beach Diet focuses on whole, unprocessed foods, so a salad is a great way to pack a bunch of those healthy foods into a single bowl. You can add low–glycemic fruits to your diet in Phase 2. Nuts are another delicious South Beach snack and make a perfect addition to any salad. Fast food restaurants usually have a few salad options, so if you're in a hurry, go ahead and stop at Wendy's because they have a few salads that would work for The South Beach Diet. 

The best seasonal salad right now at Wendy's is the Apple Pecan Salad with herb-marinated, grilled chicken breast, crisp red and green apples, sweet cranberries, roasted pecans, and crumbled blue cheese. This salad comes with a pomegranate vinaigrette that includes sugar, so opt for olive oil and vinegar instead.

KFC Grilled Chicken Breast

Staying regimented during Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet is best so that you won't feel tempted to cheat when you get to Phase 2 and need a last-minute option. At KFC, you'll want to go for a grilled chicken side and definitely won't be able to order a delicious biscuit. But on the flip side, KFC's creamy Parmesan dressing on the side salad does a great job of keeping your meal tasty and completely curbing cravings after you're done. Make sure to check the KFC website to see if that location has grilled chicken meals near you.

Besides weight loss, one of the best parts of the South Beach Diet is its sustainability in helping solidify long-term results. Even when you need to pick a fast food option like KFC, you can feel confident in making the right choice. Once you build healthy eating habits, you can maintain them for a lifetime. And with the South Beach Diet, grilled chicken from KFC is not off-limits. Just because you're on a diet does not mean you have to give up flavor and taste. The herbs and spices on KFC's grilled chicken are perfect examples of a fast food option that packs a tasty punch.

Burger King Mushroom Veggie Burger

If you're looking for a vegetarian fast food option, Burger King has a veggie burger that mushroom fans love. Mushrooms carry a similar consistency to meat, and the best part is that you can have this veggie burger on the South Beach Diet without the bun. Order a side salad with half a pouch of Ken's Ranch or Caesar to be appropriately satiated. Other BK options include a grilled chicken sandwich minus the bread and protein-style burgers.

Committing to this diet and cutting out refined carbs and unhealthy fats can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce cardiovascular diseases, per U.S. News, even if you cheat with fast food options. Mushrooms are fat-free, low-carb, and promote a healthy gut. So, you don't need to feel guilty choosing a fast food mushroom burger option, like this Burger King one. You might need to fork and knife it, but this veggie option is the perfect cheat for those days when you're tired of chicken or meat. 

Subway's No Bready Bowl

The funny name aside, Subway's No Bready Bowl features many build-your-bowl options for a South Beach Diet-approved, fast-food choice. Choose between roast beef, sliced turkey breast, sliced ham, or grilled chicken to name a few. Load up your No Bready Bowl like you would if you were ordering a sandwich. Pack on the veggies like spinach, cucumbers, olives, green peppers, tomatoes, and avocado. 

Remember that the best bet is to ask for olive oil, vinegar, or a creamy ranch dressing to toss it in. And if you look at the nutritional information, you get about twice the amount of protein than the salad. Options like the Subway Bready Bowl will keep you sticking to your goals and improving your overall health. Following a structured weight loss plan is why the South Beach Diet works for so many people.

Shake Shack 'Shroom Burger

An exciting but definite Phase 3 option is the Shake Shack 'Shroom Burger. Why is it a Phase 3 option? Because the burger comprises a thick, crisp-fried portobello mushroom filled with melted muenster and cheddar cheeses and layered with lettuce and tomato. Skip the bun and sauce because of the carby bread and sugar from the ketchup. For vegetarians and meat lovers alike, the juiciness of the portobello mushroom will satisfy any protein craving and works well because mushrooms (without the breading) are low in calories. And if all that cheese doesn't do it for you, consider a protein-style burger instead. 

The Shake Shack 'Shroom Burger is a treat that should be eaten in moderation because of the breading and cheese; it still packs a lot of saturated fat.   The veggie burger will absolutely satisfy fast-food cravings and it will be a delicious way to treat yourself if you've mastered The South Beach Diet and can afford a big cheat meal. 

Fresh Brother's Keto Pizza

Besides In-N-Out, Southern Californians are in for a real treat with another quick option, Fresh Brothers. You can find locations in Los Angeles, Orange County, or San Diego. This fast-casual option serves various pizzas, including a keto pizza. Keto and the South Beach Diet boast many similarities, including focusing on healthy fats while avoiding refined sugars and processed grains.

Fresh Brother's Keto crust is mainly made with cauliflower, packing a whopping 6 grams of carbs for a 10-inch pizza. Add whatever toppings you'd like and enjoy it at a brick and mortar, or delivery is also available. What's better than eating healthier while consuming foods you actually want to eat?

Carl's Jr. Breakfast Sandwich

We've discussed various fast food options to grab a burger, a chicken sandwich, and a salad on The South Beach Diet. Another breakfast option for you is a Carl's Jr. Breakfast Sandwich. Go for bacon, egg, and cheese, or try a sausage, egg, and cheese without the biscuit. And if you're really hungry, the monster biscuit works, too, without the bread. It includes crispy bacon, sausage patty, two folded eggs, and Swiss and American cheeses.

And as a reminder, many fast food restaurants serve heavily processed foods, so make sure to focus primarily on nutrient-dense foods. Even without the biscuit, Bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches aren't necessarily thought of as wholesome food. But when you're in a pinch for time or really craving a delicious morning sandwich, then Carl's Jr. won't disappoint. 

Panera Bread's Greek Salad

If you're lucky enough to live near a Panera Bread, you know this chain showcases incredible homemade bread made daily, including ciabattas, bagels, and brioches, to name a few. If you're on the South Beach Diet, you're not eating any of those. However, Panera's salad and bowl options are plentiful. Half a Greek Salad at Panera only has 8 grams of carbs. This salad is exactly the type of salad with nutritious foods like romaine, grape tomatoes, feta, red onions, Kalamata olives, salt, and pepper tossed in Greek dressing with pepperoncini.

Pair it with a cup of the Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup for another 8 grams of carbs and you're on your way to a low-carb option. What's more comforting than a hearty chicken noodle soup? And who knows — after a while without bread, you may not even miss it.

Popeyes Blackened Chicken Sandwich

Remember when Popeyes' crispy chicken sandwich went viral in 2019 because of a chicken sandwich tweet feud between them and Chick-fil-A? That was crazy. Most recently, Popeyes rolled out another juicy but spicy option that isn't breaded. This Blackened Chicken Sandwich is marinated in their Cajun and creole seasoning, and you can choose whether you want it with some heat. Skip the bun but look forward to delightful briny pickles and spicy mayo. If you want even more flavor, add bacon and cheese. Although it's not crispy, you're not losing any of the flavors Popeyes is known for. Make sure to eat this during Phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet unless you have incredible self-control during Phase 1 and you can confidently order the chicken breast by itself.

Some locations even offer grilled, blackened chicken tenders — check in with your local Popeyes to see if it's available as another solid South Beach Diet option. And unless it's a ranch, don't mess with any sauces that might secretly have sugar.