22 Low Carb Fast Food Options That Won't Ruin Your Diet

When we make the decision to put our calorie count on hold and take a trip to our favorite fast-food joint, we know exactly what we're getting into when it comes to health. No one takes a bite of a bacon cheeseburger and thinks, "This is exactly what my cardiologist would want me to do." However, sometimes we just need to treat ourselves, and when eaten in moderation, it's totally okay to munch down a burger or toss back a few chicken nuggets. Adhering to a super strict diet every minute of every day will drive you wild after a while, and that's where fast food swoops in to satisfy that gluttonous craving we're all hit with from time to time.

Now, even though most menu items at your favorite spot are laden with enough saturated fat, sodium, and calories to send our arteries into panic mode, some fast-food places offer items that aren't highly unhealthy. We all know cutting carbs is one of the best ways to lose weight, so if you're looking to shed some pounds, try sticking with these low-carb fast-food options the next time you get the craving for your favorite quick meal.

Chick-fil-A's Grilled Chicken Nuggets

When you're looking to get some lean protein into your diet, chicken is a great option. You can cook it a bunch of different ways, and you can dress it in some great marinades. But, most of the time, when you visit a fast-food spot, the only kind of chicken offered is deep-fried, and that's never a good avenue to venture down when you're trying to stay health-conscious. The breading used on the chicken is usually full of carbs, which renders them a rather unhealthy purchase. However, if you find yourself in line at Chick-fil-A, there are a few options available to quell your worries.

What you're going to want to do is order yourself the Grilled Chicken Nuggets. That's right, these little nuggets of poultry haven't ventured into the deep-fried Jacuzzi bath. The chicken is plump, juicy, and offers a smoky flavor profile, which means good news for your taste buds. These morsels of boneless white meat chicken are marinated in a mixture of sea salt, lemon, garlic, and herbs for an awesome flavor profile that'll have you tossing them back by the handful. Ditch the fried stuff and stick with the grilled. Your body will thank you for it.

In-N-Out Protein Style Burgers

In-N-Out is one of the most famous West Coast-based burger joints in the country. People can't get enough of their secret menu Animal Style burgers and fries. But, as delicious as the burgers and fries are, no doctor worth their weight in salt would ever advise you to consume them on a regular basis. However, if that craving for a delicious burger patty does punch you in the gut, In-N-Out offers a carb-friendly option so you can get your fix while limiting your carbohydrate intake. You get to enjoy great food, and In-N-Out still gets the sale. It's a win-win situation.

So, what's the secret? All you have to do is order a Protein-style burger, which means instead of a carb-filled bun holding your patties, you'll get them nestled inside a lettuce wrap. Not only do you ditch the carbs, but you also add some veggies to your meal. Plus, lettuce won't leave you with that overly stuffed feeling caused at times by a burger bun.

Wendy's Avocado Chicken Salad

One surefire way to avoid an exorbitant amount of unhealthy stuff flooding your body is to opt for a salad at a fast-food spot. Now, keep in mind just because it's a salad doesn't mean it's healthy. You can add a whole heck of a lot to a bed of greens that make it just as undesirable as a greasy burger. But, if you're careful about what a salad contains, it can be a great alternative to other options. If Wendy's is your fast-food vice, but you want to leave feeling like you didn't ruin your diet, check out their Avocado Salad for a tasty low-carb meal.

This salad has a whole bunch of goodies that make for a satisfying meal. On top of Wendy's signature lettuce blend is pepper jack cheese, diced tomatoes, creamy avocado, Applewood smoked bacon, and juicy chunks of grilled chicken breast. All these ingredients are then combined with a creamy Southwest ranch dressing, giving you veggies and protein without the burden of too many carbs.

Starbucks Sous Vide Egg Bites

A lot of people find it difficult to start their morning without a tall cup of coffee from Starbucks. The chain has taken over the wee hours of the day in the most caffeine-filled way possible, and it doesn't seem like it's slowing down anytime soon. Not only does Starbucks offer tons of coffee options, but the popular quick café also has breakfast foods as well, (along with the famed Starbucks secret menu items), which makes the chain a one-stop shop for all your pre-workday needs. But, if you're looking to avoid carbs, you'll want to stray away from the breakfast sandwiches on offer. Instead, look to the Sous Vide Egg Bites.

These little egg bites are packed with flavor, allowing you to start your day off the right way. And the best part is the menu has three different flavor combinations, so you're not locked into just one option. Choose from kale and mushroom, bacon and Gruyère, or roasted red pepper (this option comes with egg whites only). Pop a couple of these back, and you'll have a low-carb kick-start, giving you the energy to crush the remainder of the day.

Chipotle Build Your Salad Bowls

When your stomach tells you it's time for some Mexican food, Chipotle is one of the tastiest and most affordable options available. The Mexican-inspired chain has a wide selection of meats and fixings, and you can get all of it in a taco, burrito, or hearty bowl. But, if you're looking to explore Mexican cuisine with your health at the forefront, you'll want to focus your attention on the Build Your Salad option, which allows you to mix and match ingredients for a delicious low-carb meal.

First, you choose your meat (or the vegetarian sofritas option). Then, it's time to get creative (and healthy). Obviously, avoid the rice and beans in order to navigate away from the carbs. Still, you can load on options like guacamole, tomato salsa, roasted chili corn, tomatillo green chili, fajita veggies, sour cream, and shredded cheese. All of these tasty ingredients are then placed over a mixture of romaine, baby kale, and baby spinach. Drizzle some Chipotle-Honey Vinaigrette on top for a slam-dunk, low-carb meal. And, Chipotle also offers a selection of Lifestyle Bowls for a selection of paleo-friendly, keto-friendly fast food options, and Whole30 options that won't ruin your diet while providing a roundhouse kick of nutrition. 

Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Tacos

Where do you go when it's time to dive into some Americanized Mexican cuisine that gets your appetite stoked and also won't break the bank? Taco Bell, of course! The Bell offers tacos (obviously), burritos, gorditas, quesadillas, nachos, and several other delicious options. But, even though you won't find your order bookended by bread, what should you eat if you're looking for the lowest carb count possible? Well, look no further than the Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Tacos.

Taco Bell made the incredible decision a few years back to offer guests Doritos taco shells, so you get the flavor of Doritos chips and taco filling in every bite. Truly genius stuff. The taco comes with three simple ingredients: ground beef, lettuce, and shredded cheese. You can also opt for the supreme version, which adds tomatoes and sour cream. With only 13 grams of total carbs, this little handheld vessel of scrumptiousness checks off all the boxes when you're looking for a low-carb option while thinking outside the bun.

Jersey Mike's Sub Bowl

Submarine sandwiches are awesome — plain and simple. You can put just about anything in between that thick footlong bun, douse it in some condiments, and have yourself a filling lunch or dinner (even breakfast). But, for those trying to stay away from a carb-heavy diet, those subs are a definite no-go. Luckily, the good people at Jersey Mike's have you covered. This sandwich chain is well aware that not everyone wants to pile a bunch of bread into their gut, so it gives customers the option to order their sub-in-a-tub.

Ditch the bread, but enjoy all other fixings. That's the name of the game when you get a Jersey Mike's sub-in-a-tub. Called a Sub Bowl on the menu, it doesn't matter whether it's a hot or cold sandwich; Jersey Mike's is more than happy to offer it without the bread. And Jersey Mike's has a bunch of great options to choose from, too. Cold options like Jersey Shore's Favorite (provolone, ham, and capicola) and the Club Supreme (roast beef, turkey, Swiss cheese, Applewood smoked bacon, and mayo) are two terrific choices. If you're looking for something hot, snag yourself a Big Kahuna Chicken Cheesesteak or a Portobello Cheesesteak. Just make sure you clarify you want that sub "in a tub" or a Sub Bowl (it's more fun to rhyme, though).

Jack in the Box's Chicken Club Salad

Who's in the box? Why, it's the one and only Jack, of course! That smiling mascot with the big white head and cone hat is always ready to welcome you into one of its establishments for burgers, tacos, shakes, and more! But, as we all know, chowing down on greasy burgers isn't exactly conducive to weight loss (unfortunately). So, check out the salads instead of opting for a burger the next time you show up at your nearest Jack in the Box. Specifically, the Chicken Club Salad.

Since it's a salad, you already know you'll get a bunch of veggies, which is conducive to maintaining a trim figure. Plus, there's no bun, which means a bunch of those added carbs is off the table. What you do get is several strips of flame-grilled white meat chicken, shredded cheddar cheese, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, crumbled bacon, and seasoned croutons (which you can remove to eliminate more carbs), all resting on a bed of iceberg and romaine lettuce (via Jack in the Box). It's a winning burger alternative.

Popeyes Blackened Tenders

While this chain's name might conjure up the image of that spinach-gulping massive-forearmed sailor man, it should also put thoughts of golden fried chicken in your head. Popeyes prides itself on cranking out delicious Louisiana comfort food with a Cajun flair to its customers, and there are some pretty awesome items on the menu to prove it. But, if you're someone seeking to cut down on carbs but still want the great taste of Popeyes chicken, what exactly do you do? Well, the answer lies in three words: Popeyes Blackened Tenders.

The Blackened Tenders that Popeyes offers comes in three- or five-piece orders, and there's no fried breading in sight, which means your internal carb counter won't work overtime (via Popeyes). In fact, at only 2 grams of carbs for the three-piece order and 3 grams of carbs for five pieces, that counter will barely register a thing. Get your chicken on without the guilt of loading up on carbs.

McDonald's Chicken McNuggets

McDonald's is as much a part of our lives as the weather. Everywhere you travel, the weather follows, and the same thing can be said for those Big Mac-housing Golden Arches. McDonald's pops up everywhere, and you know exactly what to expect of the food when you enter, regardless of where you are in the world. Unfortunately, just because McDonald's is arguably the most recognizable eatery in the world doesn't mean it does a slam-dunk job at serving super healthy food you can frequently indulge in. However, when your stomach just has to have some Golden Arches grub, you can always order some of their Chicken McNuggets for a relatively low-carb treat that'll scratch that McDonald's itch.

The source of the carbs when it comes to the nuggets is the breading on the chicken. However, the breading isn't thick, so it's a far cry from the carb-heavy buns of the sandwiches. Of course, adding sauce to the nuggets will add some ingredients you may not want in your body if you're truly adhering to a diet. But all in all,16 grams of carbs for a four-piece order of McNuggets won't set you back from your fitness goals.

Carl's Jr. Thickburger Lettuce Wrap

No one knows what kind of food Carl Sr. serves, but we do know his son slings some darn good fast food. Since 1941, Carl's Jr. has been putting smiles on the faces of customers who show up with a fat juicy burger on their minds and no sympathy at all for their cholesterol levels. From time to time, you need to say the heck with a salad and bite down into one of the Western Bacon Cheeseburgers and let those juices run down your chin, allowing your taste buds to go wild. But, sometimes, you also want to keep your health in mind, which means looking for something that won't pack on the carbs of a normal burger. So, what's the play? The Thickburger Lettuce Wrap, of course!

The lettuce wrap option is available for all burgers on the Carl's Jr. menu, though it's more a secret than an advertised option. Carl's Jr. does have a reputation to consider, after all. Simply ask the employee taking your order to make your sandwich a lettuce wrap, and instead of a bun, you'll get to feast on your favorite burger nestled between a crisp outer casing of lettuce. Lettuce wraps prove that health can taste awesome!

Quiznos soups

Now, when most people head to a Quiznos, they're likely craving a sandwich, which makes total sense considering Quiznos is known for its subs. You wouldn't go to an Italian restaurant if you wanted something other than Italian food, right? Here's the thing about Quiznos: The sandwich shop does have soups and salads available to guests who don't want to dive head-first into a footlong sub. Sure, those options may not give your tummy that rich coating of saturated fat that just feels oh so good, but they're still worth your money if you want to fork some dollars to Quiznos while also keeping your day somewhat low-carb. To achieve this, soup options are the perfect way to do so.

Quiznos doesn't just give you one measly soup to pick, either — there are two great options for your tasting pleasure, and both are some of the most comforting soup types known to humans: broccoli cheese and chicken noodle (via Quiznos). You can get all of them in a small cup or a large bowl. Each one has a totally different flavor profile, making the decision challenging, but whichever route you go will be totally worth your money. Ditch the carb-heavy bread and grab a spoon instead. Sometimes it pays to slurp your meal instead of chewing it.

Carl's Jr.'s Chicken Soft Taco

If you want a good burger on the go, it's no untold truth of Carl's Jr that this is the place for hearty, beef-filled sandwiches. Known for its "premium quality" burgers (looking at you, Western Bacon Cheeseburger), this fast food chain feeds the juicy patty craving each and every time. But you don't necessarily have to visit this spot only for its burgers. If you're looking for something on the lighter side, Carl's Jr. has some options for you, too. Here, you can also find on the menu items like a Chicken Soft Taco that will fuel you up without overstuffing you with carbs.

Made with charbroiled chicken, cheese, and pico de gallo, then drizzled with hot sauce, the overall taste is light, fresh, and spicy. And even though it's made with a flour tortilla, it remains overall pretty low in carbs with just 17 net grams per taco. This makes for a healthier choice when you're looking to stay on track yet dining on the road.

Arby's Roast Turkey & Swiss Wrap

Arby's is the place to go when you're looking for massive, meaty sandwiches. It's especially well-known for its roast beef sandwiches that are stacked high to perfection and will be sure to fill you up no matter how hungry. And if it's not the sandwiches people have a hankering for, popular Arby's menu items like mozzarella sticks and curly fries get people in the door time and time again. 

We get the appeal for sure, but fried cheese might not be the best option when you're looking for something on the healthier side. Don't worry, you can still roll up your favorite sandwich shop for a lighter bite, including the Roast Turkey and Swiss Wrap. Here's why we love it: This wrap is stuffed with oven-roasted turkey, lettuce, tomatoes, and Swiss cheese that is then taken to drool-worthy heights with a slather of mayo and spicy brown honey mustard. While it may be higher in carbs than most items (39 net grams), it's still much lower than having many other items at the shop and still won't put you over what Healthline defines as a low-carb diet. Arby's has the meats, and so can you.

KFC's chicken buckets

We know how tempting it is to hit up KFC for its fried chicken, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and those buttery biscuits. But when you're looking to steer clear of too many carbohydrates, it might seem impossible to find something to enjoy at this carb-heavy chicken shack. However, the chicken here is actually a great option for anyone who wants to enjoy what there is to offer without overdoing it. 

KFC's famous chicken buckets come in various sizes, including the 8-piece, 12-piece, and 16-piece, depending on how many mouths you plan to feed (or how hungry you are if you're eating solo). You can also choose from different styles of chicken here, such as the Kentucky Grilled Chicken, which is — you guessed it — grilled, not fried! This makes for a wonderfully low-carb option, as the KFC nutrition guide lists the Colonel's grilled chicken as having zero net carbs. We'll cluck for that. Sink your teeth into juicy chicken drums, thighs, breasts, and wings, opting for either all dark meat or a variety. Packed with flavor, devoid of carbohydrates.

Panera Bread's Green Goddess Cobb Salad

Panera Bread is a fast-casual restaurant serving food fast in a comfy space you don't mind dining in. Low-carb dining at Panera may seem problematic since it is known to offer lots of carbs on the menu and prides itself on bakers that make everything from fresh and gooey cookies to focaccia and more. But, the good thing about this place is the many different options on the menu. Panera has been on a spree of extending its food options to more eaters, and the offerings are no longer sandwiches, pastries, and soups served in bread boats but now feature salads and veggie-packed bowls, too.

Case in point: the Green Goddess Cobb Salad. In this freshly prepared bowl, you'll find a mix of arugula, kale, and red leaf lettuce along with tomatoes, egg, chopped bacon, grilled chicken, creamy avocado, and pickled red onion, all drizzled in a green goddess dressing that is tart, slightly sweet, and very smooth. And like most of the dishes on the menu, Panera serves this bowl with fresh bread on the side, but it doesn't have to come this way. You can swap your choice of bread for an apple or another side giving you options if and when needed. At a total of 19 net carbs, this salad shows you can add Panera Bread to your low-carb list of quick lunch spots.

Dunkin' Snackin' Bacon

Dunkin' (formally known as Dunkin' Donuts) has long been the go-to spot for those early morning coffee needs. You know the moment when you're driving to work and need that extra pick-me-up before hitting the office. Nowadays, other coffee chains might compete with Dunkin's convenient drive-thru service and its wide variety of coffee drinks (cold, hot, sugary, extra sugary), but Dunkin' is still a staple chain. And if you aren't going there for a coffee, you're likely going there to pick up a donut (or a dozen) or even a bagel with egg and cheese.

But Dunkin' has so many other options on its forever-evolving menu and a few of them dive into the low-carb territory. Take the Snackin' Bacon, for example. At 10 net carbs, these extra crispy strips of bacon come in a convenient to-go sleeve that you can snack on while walking or driving — and you don't even have to order them on a bagel to enjoy these salty slices of hog heaven. Once upon a time, snacking on just bacon might have been seen as the epitome of pure indulgence. But when looking for low-carb fast food options on the go, you can call it a necessity. Now you can simply have your bacon and eat it, too.

Firehouse Subs Hook & Ladder Salad

If you've ever found yourself in the mood for a big ol' sandwich, then there's a chance you've visited Firehouse Subs once or twice. Getting its start in Florida, this sandwich shop currently has more than 1,000 stores all around the country. Yes, Firehouse is known for meaty, well-packed sandwiches, but it also has some impressive hot sauces to choose from, making them a bit spicier than the other sub-chains out there. 

What's really great about this sandwich chain is that there are so many options on the menu that you'll be sure to find just what you want, no matter the craving (or the diet). Sure, there are a lot of meat-heavy subs on toasted bread, but among the things you didn't know about Firehouse subs is that there are other non-bread items to try, too, including the Hook and Ladder Salad. This classic Italian-inspired chopped salad is under 20 net carbs and ideal for something on the lighter side, blooming with lots of fresh veggies. Enjoy chopped romaine paired with tomato and bell pepper, then accompanied by mozzarella, smoked turkey breast, and honey ham for some added protein. 

Checkers Classic Wings

Checkers is a lot like the other fast food chains on the list that are prone to serving up some tasty burgers and fries. Chances are, if you've visited a Checkers before, you've probably opted for a patty with bacon on it, such as the Baconzilla, the Triple Baconzilla, or Smoky BBQ Bacon Buford. After all, this place is known for its hot and heavy sandwiches that are piled high with not just one patty but two or three — and also burgers with lots and lots of bacon on them.

However, other things on the menu are also worth a try. And we're not talking about the Double Fry Lovers Burger either (although still worth a try!). We are all about the classic wings that come in 5-piece, 10-piece, or 20-piece orders with your choice of super duper hot buffalo (or normally called Angry Buffalo), garlic parmesan, or smoky BBQ. The wings will vary by carb count depending on how you dress them, but Checkers (or Rally's, depending on where you are) has a handy nutrition guide to help you navigate the exact macro count per food. These crispy wings can satisfy an appetite and your special dining requirements all at once.

Hardee's Beef Bowl

Hardee's has you covered when it comes to a thick burger patty. This fast food chain serves what are called thickburgers, exactly like it sounds: ultra-thick patties of divine meat, grilled to perfection and ready to fill any empty stomach to the tip-top. These burgers have been around since the 1990s and are made with Angus beef and piled high with all the right fixings. Although these burgers are the popular items on the menu back in the day (and currently), Hardee's has a lot more where that comes from.  

Everything from chicken tenders to biscuits and gravy mark this chain as one that knows how to offer hearty comfort food at its best. It would seem almost impossible to find anything on such a menu that might not be too overloaded with carbs. Good news! There is. We'd like to introduce you to the Hardee's Beef Bowl, made with ground beef, rice, and refried beans and topped with shredded cheese, salsa, and sour cream. The beef bowl is savory, melty, creamy, and good. It's hearty and filling for both the belly and the soul. We should note that this is one of the heavier options on the list at 49 net carbs per bowl, but compared to other Hardee's options, it won't blast a hole through your entire diet if you need to eat something tasty in a pinch. 

Shake Shack Chicken Bites

We know why everyone goes to Shake Shack. This NYC-based burger chain offers up Angus beef burgers, flat-top dogs, and some of the best frozen beverages and custards around. Chocolate churro shake, anyone? There may be some secrets Shake Shack doesn't want you to know, but the high quality of the chain's ingredients isn't one of those mysteries. When visiting your local Shake Shack, you'll likely stand in a long line to grab something off the menu, but it's always well worth it.  

And while everyone goes to Shake Shack for one (or three) of the burgers paired with those crinkly fries doused in cheese or sprinkled with bacon, we say the chicken here is pretty solid as well. Sure, you can opt for one of the chicken filets sandwiched between a potato bun, but we're all about those chicken bites, especially when we're looking to ditch some carbs. The 10-piece bites offer a grand total of 26 net carbs per serving, making them one of the tastiest low-carb options on the fast food market. These delicious bites are full-on succulent white meat and, unlike many other carb-reduced options, still manage to keep their ultra-crispy exterior. You can dress them up with a choice of honey mustard or BBQ sauce for your dipping pleasure, but keep in mind that the smooth dressings will impact the overall carb count.

DQ's Rotisserie-style Chicken Bites Salad Bowl

DQ (also known as Dairy Queen) has been around since 1940 and used to be the spot to hit when craving a big heaping pile of soft serve ice cream dipped in a hardened shell and flipped upside down. Flash forward to the 90s when the ice cream shop turned into a fast food chain that now serves burgers and fries and much out of its quick service windows and counterlines line. You can enjoy anything from burgers and sandwiches to chicken baskets and, of course, the famed Blizzards known to resist the flow of gravity.

Fortunately, not everything on this fast food menu is fried or full of carbs. At Dairy Queen, you can also find the Rotisserie-style Chicken Bites Salad Bowl, which is one of the best low-carb fast food options that won't ruin your diet. Made with all-white meat chicken, an order of this will send you on your way to enjoying juicy bites with lots of crunch. The salad bowl is packed with a mix of romaine and iceberg lettuce, along with shredded cabbage and carrots. The whole bowl is sprinkled with sharp and shredded cheddar cheese, then topped with a house-made ranch dressing that will complement the chicken just right. 7 grams of net carbs have never tasted so crisp and luscious.