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Are you in ketosis right now? If you’re not, you probably should be. The latest and greatest of the low-carbohydrate, high-protein (and fat) diets continues to sweep the nation, as would-be beach bod-havers swap burger buns and fries out for extra bacon and avocado. 

If you don’t know, the keto diet is an eradication of carbohydrates and sugar in nearly all forms, and a carefully calculated blitz of fats and protein meant to send your metabolism into a state of ketosis. When this happens ketones are created from fat (since there are no carbs or sugar present), and used for fuel at a much higher rate, resulting in weight loss and reported spikes in energy.

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The average keto dieter wants to keep their carb intake to between 15 – 20 grams per day (or less), depending on body type. To put things in perspective, a single apple or banana has over 25 grams of carbs alone, so navigating a keto diet on any restaurant menu is tricky, but you’ll have to do even more homework and question-asking at fast food and fast casual chains, where carb-free menu items can be scarce. Though most national chains have been slow to catch up to the fad, Chipotle recently announced a few keto bowls and it may not be long till others follow suit. Until then, we did some digging into the menus of some of the nation’s most popular fast food and fast casual chains to help you stay in full ketosis. All day…every day.

Wendy’s Strawberry Fields Salad

Wendy’s/McDonald’s/Burger King

Burger joints can be fairly keto-friendly as long as you’re willing to give up the buns and french fries.

What to eat:

Wendy’s Double Baconator has loads of fat and 53 grams of protein with only 2 grams of carbs, when you lose the bun. Go whole hog with a bunless Quarter Pounder with Cheese or Big Mac (or two) at McDonald’s, but add extra bacon or cheese, and hold the special sauce (which is, sadly, high in sugar). Go Double Whopper at BK and ask for loads of extra toppings and big pieces of lettuce to wrap it up in.

A bunless grilled chicken sandwich, which they all have a version of, is another viable option, and though you can’t have the fries or Wendy’s baked potato on the side, most offer side salads. Just be careful to choose a low-carb dressing and don’t even think about opening that packet of croutons, mister!  

What to watch out for:

Be careful of sauces and salad dressings that often contain loads of sugar. Ketchup is one of the sneakiest culprits and should be eaten in moderation or not at all, but go nuts with mustard, mayo, pickles and other tasty toppings.

Full milk fat dressings like buttermilk ranch and Caesar are your best options for salads, and while Wendy’s beef chili might seem like a good high fat choice, those carb-y beans will throw your keto diet off track in a hurry.

Panera Bread’s Green Goddess Salad

Panera Bread

Panera has gotten healthier over the past few years, eliminating harmful chemicals and additives and offering more transparency with its menu. Obviously, sandwiches are mostly off limits, but there are some workarounds!

What to eat:

Sandwiches (with no bread). The damned delicious bread at PB is obviously a keto non-starter, but sandwiches like The Cuban and Bacon Turkey Bravo have a lot of high protein/fat ingredients like pulled pork, ham, cheese, turkey, and bacon so ask for them on a bed of greens. Unlike burger joints, Panera keeps fresh avocado on hand (a perfect keto food), so load up on avocado, bacon, (some) nuts, and cheese.

Salads can be okay, but be conscious that many contain high carb-count dressings and toppings like tortilla strips, corn, or ancient grains that will surely sabotage your hard-earned ketosis. The Green Goddess Salad, with egg, avocado, bacon, and tomato is one of your best bets!

What to watch out for:

Unfortunately, the soups and sides are mostly a no-go at Panera. Soups, made with regular or lower fat milks, are jacked up with sugar to make up for taste. A lot of the soups also contain flour for thickening and the turkey chili contains beans, another keto no-no. Panera offers a bounty of keto-busting sides too, like a piece of bread (no way), bag of chips (sorry, sister), and fruit or fruit cup (still no).

Taco Bell’s Cantina Power Bowl

Taco Bell

The key to surviving “the Bell” (besides having Pepto handy) is to avoid beans, corn, and tortillas at all costs, which can make things tricky—but fear not…we have ideas.

What to eat:

Try a Cantina Power Bowl and skip the rice and beans, opting for romaine lettuce, extra protein, and guacamole. Don’t be afraid of full-fat sour cream and extra cheese, both keto-friendly and oh so good.

What to watch out for:

Corn in all its forms is super high in glucose and carbohydrates, so even a few kernels might push you over the edge. Make sure to ask, as sometimes corn sneaks into salsas and other menu items, and no chips, tortillas or taco shells!

Keto Bowl from Chipotle

Chipotle

As we mentioned, Chipotle has separated itself from the pack early with a line of keto-friendly bowls (one is paleo-friendly too).

What to eat:

The Keto Bowls, of course. These low-carb options eliminate rice and beans and sub in lettuce with amped-up portions of guacamole, veggies, and meats, of which you have many to choose from: carnitas, free-range chicken, steak, chorizo. You know the drill!

What to watch out for:

Rice, beans, and tortilla shells may be obvious items to avoid, but watch out for the corn salsa too. Stay away from any sugary drinks and don’t let those cold Coronas in the fridge tempt you either!

Subway Toppings

Subway

Subway seems like it might be a bust, but consider they have salads now, and all of the options you have for sandwich toppings that you can add to your meal. Meats, cheeses, veggies, pickles, jalapenos, and lots more!

What to eat:

Go with one of their signature salads like the Italian Chopped Salad or Subway Club Salad OR start with greens and then have a field day with cold cuts, grilled chicken, or whatever else. Tuna and chicken salad are also good options.

What to watch out for:

The Subway sauces are a minefield of unwanted carbs (the sweet onion teriyaki has 18 alone). Try to stick with the ranch or Caesar. Meatballs are also a no-go, containing dastardly breadcrumbs.

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