Image of a low carb fast food breakfast sandwich

Low Carb Fast Food Breakfast: What Are Your Options?

by Cole Matthews - Last Updated June 14, 2019

French toast, pancakes, hashbrowns, waffles – traditionally, breakfast has been a pretty high-carb meal. This makes sense, as getting your carbs early in the morning helps you maintain energy for the day. If you are busy, you may stop at the local fast food joint to get your morning fill. However, if you over-indulge, or consistently choose breakfast items from the menu that contain a high amount of carbs, you could be damaging your diet, especially if you’re trying to shed a few pounds.

You shouldn’t cut all of the carbs out of your diet, as your body needs them to convert to energy to complete all of the processes your body is constantly running. However, if you’re eating more than 300g of carbohydrates per day (slightly more if you’re bulking), taking a closer look at your diet can pay out some serious dividends in terms of body composition. Breakfast food, especially, can contain the bulk of your carbs, and making better choices at the dollar menu in the morning can help you achieve your fitness goals and ideal body composition. Here are some body-friendly fast food breakfast options that are low in carbs, but high in flavor.

Low Carb Breakfast Foods From Any Fast Food Restaurant


Yogurt

While not a main staple of traditional breakfasts, yogurt can be a great first meal. High in protein, low in carbs and easy to eat on the go or at your desk – yogurt can be a great way to get in your morning meal without packing on the carbs.

One thing to watch out for is granola – many fast food yogurt parfaits will come with a heaping scoop of it. This is where you’re in control of the carbs.

If you can’t eat the parfait without a bit of texture, try only putting one-third or half of the granola in. If you can manage, don’t put any of the granola in, as there are carbohydrates in the fruit that is usually also included.

Breakfast Sandwiches

Yes, you heard me right. Breakfast sandwiches. If you’re skeptical, you have every right to be. Breakfast sandwiches can be the highest-carb items on the breakfast menu; however (and this is a big however), if you get the breakfast sandwich without the bun, croissant, English muffin or whatever other pastry is being used as a bun, it drops the carbs dramatically and makes these options significantly healthier.

Another option, if you want to decrease your carb count but can’t stand not having something to hold your breakfast sandwich together, is flatbread. Flatbreads are lower in carbs than their pastry counterparts, and are widely available at fast food places such as Subway and Panera.

Breakfast Burritos/Wraps

On the go and need something you can eat with one hand? When going low-carb, you don’t have to give up the magnificent convenience of wraps and breakfast burritos. Instead of getting your fillings wrapped in a tortilla or pita, opt for a lettuce wrap.

Lettuce wraps are pretty widely available at fast food places no matter where you go. Choosing a lettuce wrapper instead of a tortilla will keep your contents secure, keep the carbs low and still leave your other hand free to take care of whatever life throws at you.

Breakfast Boxes

Several large coffee chains such as Caribou Coffee and Starbucks, along with having yogurt parfaits, will often have a pretty good selection of different breakfast boxes that can be eaten on the go, and many of these options are on the lower end of the carbohydrate spectrum.

Look for options containing eggs, vegetables, fruits and meats to keep up your intake of vitamins and protein without all of those pesky carbs that can pack on weight.

Protein Shakes

Whether you are a veteran or a novice to the fitness world, you’ll probably have had a protein shake or two. Protein shakes are great ways to meet your macronutrient requirements without weighing yourself down with unnecessary carbs, sodium and fat (and most of them taste pretty good, too).

With health-consciousness continuing transition into everyday life, businesses are changing to accommodate this set of values, which has led to an increase in health foods like protein shakes being added to the menus of several fast food restaurants.

Check your favorite fast food places (and check if there are any health-focused fast food places like The Protein Bar or Smoothie King nearby) to see if they have protein shakes or smoothies on the menu. These options aren’t going to be carb-free, but most of the carbs that they will contain will be from fruit.

Protein shakes are also a great option due to the fact that they are in (mostly) liquid form. Being able to drink a meal instead of taking the time to eat it will increase the time you have to manage your other tasks and responsibilities.

Sides

Most fast food places will offer a plethora of sides for their breakfast menu. Apple slices, peanut butter, apple sauce, sides of bacon, etc. are on several fast food menus. Instead of crunching numbers trying to find the breakfast entrée with the least amount of carbs, why not just pick a few sides that you know are low carb?

A breakfast containing sides of meat, cheese, fruit and vegetables from your fast food joint of choice can be filling and light on the carbs. Taco Bell, McDonalds and Burger King all have a large selection of sides.

Salads

Although generally thought of as more of a lunch item, there’s nothing wrong with having a salad for breakfast. Coffee chains, fast food restaurants and even convenience stores generally have several salad options to choose from and are open for breakfast. Stay away from breaded chicken and an excessive amount of croutons and the rest is up to you!

Final Thoughts

Making your own meals is always preferable due to the amount of control you’ll have over nutrition and quality, but if you’re an extremely busy individual and can’t seem to find the time to make your own meals, fast food doesn’t have to be the enemy many members of the fitness community make it out to be. By simply making some different choices and viewing fast food menu items with health consciousness in mind, you can drastically cut down your carbs and get a few steps closer to obtaining your ideal body without sacrificing convenience.

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