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As we begin a new year, many of us are trying to embrace healthier lifestyles. For some, that may involve cutting back on the carbs. When watching our carbs or trying the keto diet, it can feel overwhelming to go to a fast-food restaurant. Are there any viable options? There are actually plenty, if you follow a few guidelines — and do a little dismantling.
“A low-carb or keto-friendly meal is going to contain about 70% fat, 20% protein and 10% carbohydrates,” Serena Poon, a nutritionist and chef, told TODAY Food. But just watching the carbs isn’t always the whole story. “In my opinion, these diets often overlook vegetables more than I would recommend. When looking for a low-carb dish, focus on high-quality protein, plant-based fats, such as olive oil, nuts or avocados and low-starch vegetables such as red peppers, tomatoes and greens,” she explained.
So, if you’re trying to get lunch at your favorite fast food spot and watching your carbs, what should you avoid?” If you’re looking for a low-carb option, you’ll want to avoid grains, rice, legumes, fruit and anything with added sugar. Keep an eye out for salad dressings because they are often a hidden source of added sugar,” said Poon.
This may seem obvious, but it’s best if you ask that a bun never be placed on your burger or sandwich. “This is because if a bun is used and you just remove it before eating you are likely going to get portions of bread that are difficult to remove from your sandwich,” Lisa Richards, a nutritionist and author of “The Candida Diet.” It’s best to just ask for it to be left off.
Our favorite sandwiches are often loaded up with tasty condiments, but those can be bad news if you are watching the carbs. Most condiments contain a moderate amount of carbs, especially ketchup. “With the exception of mustard and mayonnaise, it is best to just avoid condiments outside of the home to ensure you aren’t taking in hidden carbs,” said Richards.
Consider the sides, too
Most restaurants offer low-carb side options like side salads or steamed veggies. “For side salads, request no croutons and choose oil and vinegar as a dressing,” said Richards.
Keep it simple
While avoiding carbs can be as easy as removing a bun, there’s an obvious way to keep things simple and stay on track. “If you’re into ditching or slashing carbs, salad items are often the way to go without simultaneously overloading on unhealthy fats,” Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of “Read It Before You Eat It – Taking You from Label to Table,” told TODAY. “You can cut lunch carbs even further by not eating the croutons on salad or by ordering a salad bowl instead of a taco or by eliminating the bread on a sandwich,” said Taub-Dix.