Low-carb choices for fast food

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Lettuce Wrapped Burgers

A juicy cheeseburger should only be an occasional treat.

A juicy cheeseburger should only be an occasional treat. Skip the high-carb buns or ask for the lettuce-wrapped meat patties. You’ll keep the flavor and protein, but little or no empty carbs. If bread is a must, try eating your burger with one bun instead of two. Take it easy with ketchup, mayonnaise, and other condiments.

Skip the sodas

It's easy to drink your carbs.

It’s easy to drink your carbs. Regular sodas, sweet teas, and milkshakes can absorb your daily carbohydrate intake. Opt for water (you can flavor it with lemon or other fresh fruits). Try your specialty coffee drink with almond milk, which is half the carbohydrates of 2% cow’s milk.

Egg combos

Eggs are naturally carbohydrate free.

Eggs are naturally carbohydrate free. They also contain protein to prevent a growling tummy. So order eggs alone or mixed with spinach, tomatoes and other vegetables. Go with all the egg whites and you’ll save on cholesterol too. Just be careful if they’re served with muffins, croissants, pancakes, and other high-carb companions.

Throw the tortilla

Fancy Mexican or Southwestern dishes?

Fancy Mexican or Southwestern dishes? Try a salad bowl instead of burritos. Don’t hesitate to stock up on healthy ingredients like:

  • Black olives
  • Coriander
  • Guacamole
  • salsa
  • spinach

Take it easy with black or refried beans, sour cream and crisps.

What is the low carb level?

That's when you limit yourself to less than half of the recommended 130 grams of carbohydrate per day.

That’s when you limit yourself to less than half of the recommended 130 grams of carbohydrate per day. So you only eat 20-60 grams per day by eliminating unhealthy and processed carbohydrates. They raise your blood sugar faster than protein and fat. Cutting back can help keep your insulin levels stable, control your type 2 diabetes, and lower your blood pressure.

Take a pass on the fries

A large order of fries can have your whole day on a low carb diet.

Talk about a carbohydrate bomb. A large order of fries can have your whole day on a low carb diet. Onion rings or waffle fries aren’t much better either. Order a healthier side like salad, fruit or yogurt.

Grilled chicken

Any piece of chicken - breast, drumstick, thigh or wing - contains no carbohydrates until it is breaded.

Any piece of chicken – breast, drumstick, thigh or wing – is carbohydrate-free until it is breaded. So go for poultry products that say “grilled” instead of “fried”, “crisp” or that are coated in buttermilk.

Comparison of condiments

Watch what you dip your fries in or your meats in.

Watch what you dip your fries in or your meats in. Ketchup contains more carbohydrates than mayonnaise. Regular mustard is a better choice than honey mustard. And hot or chili sauces generally contain less sugar and carbohydrates than barbecue sauce.

Salads

They can be large, carbohydrate-rich meals.

They can be large, carbohydrate-rich meals. Chicken salad, Greek salad, and strawberry caprese salad all contain less than 20 grams of carbohydrate. If you are in a submarine or a sandwich shop, ask them if they can turn your order into a salad. Skip the croutons. Ranch dressing typically has a third less carbohydrate than balsamic dressing and half the amount of Italian dressing. Use only the amount of dressing that you really need.

Kung pao chicken

American Chinese cuisine is known for its many carbohydrate-rich sauces.

American Chinese cuisine is known for its many carbohydrate-rich sauces. But this popular dish of chicken, peanuts, vegetables and hot peppers has just 14 grams of carbohydrates. Look for dishes without sticky glazes. Take a pass for chow mein and other noodles, rice of all kinds, and fortune cookies. Many fast foods are high in salt, sugar, and fat, so eat home-cooked meals whenever possible.

Soups

One cup of these soups can contain less than 20 grams of carbohydrate.

Chicken noodles. Vegetable. Broccoli cheddar. One cup of these soups can contain less than 20 grams of carbohydrate. And when you drink them before a meal, you tend to get fuller faster. Tip: Soups made with broth are generally lower in calories and carbohydrates than creamy soups.

Reduce it

An easy way to cut down on your carbs is to order the smallest size.

An easy way to reduce your carbs is to order the smallest size. A large fry can have more than twice as much carbohydrate in a small portion. Ditto for sodas and milkshakes.

To monitor

Low in carbs doesn't always mean healthy, especially in fast food chains.

Low in carbs doesn’t always mean healthy, especially in fast food chains. When it comes to carbs, avoid “empty” carbs from processed foods and opt for healthy carbs from fresh fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. And if you eat low in carbs all the time, you may be missing out on important nutrients like fiber, magnesium, and some vitamins. You might also feel tired or have muscle cramps or a headache. This is because carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy.

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