As the ketogenic diet continues to bask in its popular glory, some restaurants (Chipotle, cough cough) are jumping on the bandwagon to appease their consumer bases.
But what’s a person in ketosis to do if a restaurant doesn’t have a keto-approved menu item?
You get creative, that’s what. I’ve used my expertise as a registered dietitian to sort through the menus at an array of fast-food restaurants to come up with your keto cheat sheet.
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Note: This isn’t a discussion around the benefits (or lack thereof) of going keto. We’ve covered that extensively here, here, and here. The goal of these picks is to help you sort through the options at some popular fast-casual restaurants if keto is your current diet de jour.
Fortunately most restaurants now offer substitutions to meet whatever your diet preference may be, keto included.
Go keto at … Panera
While Panera doesn’t advertise a “keto menu,” or really any menu that focuses on restriction, the chain does offer some substitutions that work.
If you walk into Panera and want to “keto-fy” your menu, order the Green Goddess Cobb Salad- and sub in extra-virgin olive oil for the normal Green Goddess dressing and add some nutrient dense, high-fat avocado.
You could also try the Chicken Caesar and sub in avocado in place of the croutons. These two solid, nutrient-dense menu options are packed with nutrients (and, by chance, also keto friendly).
Go keto at … Shake Shack
This high-end burger chain offers a bevy of options from burgers and shakes to custards and hot dogs. It’s admittedly hard to find nutrient dense options at this chain, but swapping out the bun on any of the burgers of hot dogs will fulfill the requirement here of being keto-friendly.
But the company made some waves recently for their “secret menu,” which includes one keto-friendly option that’s not publicly listed on the menu board. Asking for the “secret menu,” swap in a lettuce wrap for the more traditional non-keto-friendly bun.
Go keto at … Taco Bell
Taco Bell is known for their ability to mix and match hundreds of options.
If I were headed to the Bell for breakfast and following a keto diet, I’d opt for the Naked Egg Burrito. I mean, they make it somewhat easy for you because it’s not wrapped in a tortilla, but rather an egg.
Without any changes it’s loaded with potatoes—which, as an aside, there’s nothing wrong with, unless you’re on very low carb, high fat diet. If this case, swap out the potatoes for steak, add guacamole and you’ve got a keto-friendly breakfast on the go.
Go keto at … Chick-fil-A
BURCU ATALAY TANKUT
If I’m talking about keto-friendly options, I’m always going to opt for something that at least has some color (if available). So while simply taking off the bun or biscuit of any sandwich is a simple option, nutrient-dense vegetables are always top of my list.
The Cobb Salad with Grilled Filet gets close to fitting the bill. Skip the dressing and roasted corn kernels to push the carbs even lower and, add in some avocado for a little boost in fat (and nutrition).
Go keto at … Qdoba
Tip of the old hat for Qdoba here: While subbing in ingredients is possible at most restaurants, Qdoba dove head first and embraced the keto diet by offering keto-specific menu options.
They, like others, do allow for subbing in and creating your own option, but they’ve also offer a done for you with the Smoked Brisket Keto Bowl. The meal includes brisket, guacamole, pico de gallo, salsa, and cheese all atop shredded lettuce.
The Bottom Line
As a dietitian, my preference is to increase the nutrition through quality foods versus chasing diet trends. But if you’re following a particular diet, ahem, keto, all you care about is the fat. Well that’s your choice, too, and these above options meet those desires.
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