Are you a McDonald's fan but worried that its foods might ruin your keto diet?
Don't worry, you're in the right spot!
In this Athletic Muscle guide, I'll be covering:
- What are keto friendly breakfast options at McDonald's?
- What can you enjoy for lunch and dinner at McDonald's that are keto friendly?
- What are the foods to avoid at McDonald's when on Keto diet?
- And a whole lot more!
The question of many keto dieters “Can I still eat at McDonald’s on a keto diet!?” The answer is yes, yes you can!
Many of the menu options are carbohydrate dense, from the french fries to the McFlurries, but the McDonald’s menu does offer a range of keto friendly options that allow you to stay on track and also enjoy eating at one of the world’s favourite fast food joints.
What are Keto-friendly Breakfast Options at McDonald’s?
Who doesn’t love a McDonald’s breakfast? And who doesn’t love getting to use their imagination?
Standard breakfasts at McDonald’s come with hash browns and/or a biscuit, (sometimes even baked beans and or tomatoes depending on location), there are a few options you can use to piece together a super tasty custom breakfast meal.
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Some of our favourite options (based on breakfast portions)
- Scrambled eggs (1g net carbs)
- Sausage patty (1g net carbs)
- Bacon (1g net carbs)
- Fried egg (2g net carbs)
- Folded Egg (2g net carbs)
- Cheese slice (1g net carbs each)
- Beef patty (0g net carbs)
- Apple slices (4g net carbs)
Note: some of these options may be a part of other breakfast menu items and an additional cost may apply for the keto friendly custom breakfast meal.
McDonald’s also offer a range of breakfast “sandwich” options. Make them keto-friendly by excluding the main carbohydrate component.
- Egg McMuffin (3g net carbs minus the muffin)
- Steak, Egg & Cheese Biscuit (4g net carbs minus the biscuit)
- Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit (4g net carbs minus the biscuit)
You can of course also pick up a McCafe Coffee, served black (1g net carb), or a bottled water to go along with your breakfast.
What are Keto-friendly Lunch and Dinner Options at McDonald's?
What if you fancy one of McDonald’s world-famous burgers or sandwiches? Is there anything available past the classic keto “no bun, plain burger” rule? Well, yes there is!
One way to enjoy a meal at McDonald's is the relatively keto friendly salad options that can be a great complement to any burger option you choose
- Side Salad (2g net carbs)
- Grilled Chicken Salad (6g net carbs)
- Grilled Chicken Salad with Bacon (6g net carbs)
- McDonalds Balsamic salad dressing (4g net carbs)
A salad can be a great way to round out a meal while getting some added fiber, nutrients, and minerals as well.
A quick hack to replace that bun or bread is to use the lettuce leaves from the salad – a virtually zero carb alternative.
With that in mind, what burger/ sandwich options are on offer that we can either chop up and add to a salad option or have with a new zero carb lettuce alternative?
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- Traditional Cheeseburger (3g net carbs with lettuce)
- Bic Mac (5g net carbs with lettuce)
- Quarter Pounder with Cheese (3g net carbs with lettuce)
- Quarter pounder with cheese and bacon (3 - 4g net carbs with lettuce)
- Plain patty (0g net carbs with lettuce)
- Plain patty with bacon (0 – 1g net carbs with lettuce)
Our Favorite Burger Options
- Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich (1g net carbs with lettuce)
- Pico Guacamole Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich (6g net carbs with lettuce)
- Cheddar Bacon Onion Grilled Chicken Sandwich (6g net carbs with lettuce)
- Signature Sriracha Artisan Grilled Chicken on Artisan Roll (10g net carbs with lettuce)
Our Favorite Sandwich Options
What are the Foods to Avoid at McDonalds When Following a Keto Approach?
Clearly McDonalds has a lot to offer for keto advocates, but it most certainly also has options that would disrupt your ketogenic state and it’s important to be aware of these.
The obvious one being the soda. We previously wrote a detailed article on soda, particularly diet soda, and why it may be a welcomed addition to a keto diet.
Be mindful when making a drink choice many of the sodas available at McDonalds are not of the diet variety, and the range of fruit juices, and iced teas are also very carbohydrate dense.
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We detailed a few of the breakfast options to be wary of, the hash browns, biscuits, and muffins but there are also yogurt options, syrups, and pastries that should be avoided.
They are carbohydrate dense as well. Two options to be particularly aware of;
- Fruit and Maple Oatmeal (62g net carbs per serving)
- Hotcakes and Sausage (103g net carbs per serving)
The majority of lunch / dinner options (if bun / bread is included) are rich in carbohydrates, typically coming in at least 30g per serving.
Some of the more popular menu items yet higher in carbohydrate options that all keto-ers should most definitely avoid are:
- Veggie McWrap (62g net carbs per serving)
- The McRib (52g net carbs per serving)
- Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich (63g net carbs per serving)
- Chicken McNuggets (20 piece) (53g net carbs per serving)
- Buttermilk Crispy Tenders 10 piece (63g net carbs per serving)
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While the fries are delicious, they can also be detrimental for your ketogenic state coming in at 26g of net carbs per serving. Replacing them with a salad is one option as are the bags of carrot sticks (under 10g of net carbs per pack).
Dessert wise, the options are fairly limited. There is the option of apple slices which we mentioned earlier and you can also order a Yoplait Go Gurt (8g net carbs per portion) for a sweet end to a keto friendly meal at McDonalds.
For a more detailed breakdown of all McDonald’s menu options, check out their nutrition calculator.
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How to Use the App to Make an Educated Choice?
Having all this information in an article is helpful but not always practical if you find yourself in the restaurant and can’t recall which foods will fit best with your dietary approach.
Thankfully, McDonald's actually has a fantastic mobile app that allows you to check nutritional information on the fly.
It is also helpful for ordering in advance as you can request no bun, no sauce or other condiments, etc.
They usually also have special offers, use them too. Use this in tandem with their nutrition calculator application to make every visit a keto friendly one!
McDonald's is a completely viable fast food option for keto dieters. With breakfast, lunch, dinner and even some sweet treat options, there truly is something for everyone
The flexibility to construct a meal of your choice in house or using the app, as well as tracking carbohydrate content on the fly using their nutritional calculator makes things seamlessly simple for sticking to your diet.
For those who are using a keto approach for weight loss purposes, be mindful of the calorie content of some of these meals as they can be relatively high, (depending on your calorie target), but ultimately it’s great to know that you don’t have to miss out on a trip to McDonald's.