Early morning can be a hectic time of day.
Sometimes we might sleep through our alarm, and on other occasions, there just isn’t enough time to eat breakfast.
In this case, many people pick up a coffee and a sandwich, or perhaps a coffee and a donut.
However, what choices are there for those who follow a low carb diet, or for people just wishing to avoid refined carbs?
Fortunately, there are numerous low carb fast food breakfast options.
And while it will never be the highest quality food, fast food doesn’t have to be unhealthy.
In this article, we will examine some of the best options for a reasonably nutritious fast food breakfast.
1. Beef Patties (“Bunless” Burgers)
When someone is in a rush, a local burger may seem like a quick and convenient choice.
To make it low carb, all you have to do is discard the bun.
The first option would be just plain beef patties for a hefty dose of protein, B vitamins and minerals (1).
Alternatively, if you prefer more variety, you can order the burgers alongside some salad and maybe a slice or two of bacon and cheese.
A burger joint is never far away, and the time investment is low since they only take several minutes to prepare.
In recent years, all the big franchise chain stores such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Shake Shack and more have started to offer “bunless” options too.
For instance, a bunless Shake Shack burger comes boxed alongside cheese, tomato and a large lettuce leaf.
The majority of these patties are 100% beef, which guarantees a tasty and nutritious breakfast.
2. Roast Beef Salad (Subway)
Otherwise known as “sub in a tub,” it is a low carb breakfast sandwich without the bread.
In other words; you get all the good stuff (meat and veggies) that come in a sub, but skip the refined carbs.
Typically, this salad bowl may feature roast beef, tomato, lettuce, red onion, olives, pickles, and jalapenos; quite a healthy combination of ingredients.
This popular option provides 19 grams of protein per serving as well as numerous vitamins and minerals.
One salad provides the following (2);
- Calories: 140 kcal
- Carbohydrate: 11 g
- Fat: 4 g
- Protein: 19 g
However, at only 140 calories for the salad (without dressings) it is best if you are just looking for a very light breakfast.
Don’t feel like roast beef?
No problem, because there is a range of other options too, with bacon, chicken, ham and turkey salads all being available.
3. Bacon and Eggs (Cafe)
Bacon and eggs is a traditional breakfast option, and it is low carb and high in fat and protein.
In fact, this meal has been a favorite breakfast choice for centuries as part of the ‘full breakfast’ enjoyed in the UK and Ireland, and later in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.
It is also potentially the tastiest breakfast choice out there; it is a hard combination to beat for flavor and enjoyment.
No matter where you are, there is always likely to be a nearby cafe that sells bacon and eggs.
Providing the cafe isn’t too crowded, the time requirement is only small; this traditional breakfast is quick to cook, and doesn’t take long to eat either.
4. Grilled Chicken Sandwich – No Bun (Burger King)
With lettuce instead of a bread bun, Burger King’s grilled chicken sandwich is another low carb breakfast option.
The nutrition profile of this food is as follows (5);
- Calories: 270
- Carbohydrate: 1 g
- Fat: 16 g
- Protein: 30 g
Compared to fast food offerings of yesteryear, grilled chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, pepper and herbs doesn’t sound too bad.
Similar to the Subway option, it is a very light meal and contains less than 300 calories.
Since it is relatively protein-dense, Burger King’s grilled chicken should be a lot more satiating than typical carb-heavy breakfasts.
Lastly, this choice is one of the best for convenience; it should take only 5-10 minutes max to get the food, which you can quickly take away.
5. Cold Cuts, Cheese and Olives (Grocery Store / Supermarket)
It’s worth remembering that “fast” food doesn’t have to come from a typical fast food joint.
There is never a grocery store or supermarket far away, and there are lots of great options on store shelves.
One quick breakfast option could be some cold cuts, cheese, and olives.
For example, a slice or two of roast ham/turkey, prosciutto or salami works well alongside a mild hard cheese (such as Cheddar or Gruyere).
Add some olives and a piece of fruit, and then you have a quick and nutritious low carb meal.
On the negative side, eating this one for breakfast might attract some strange looks in the office.
Fortunately, this combination tastes delicious at any time of day.
6. Bacon Cheeseburger In a Bowl (Five Guys)
Five Guys has been one of the most popular fast food chains in recent years, and it has quickly expanded around the world.
One thing the company does well is to offer customers a variety of choice, and there are various low carb offerings available.
Perhaps the customer favorite among these is the ‘burger in a bowl’ (more like tray) option.
While you can get any of their menu items in a bowl, their bacon cheeseburger is a tasty choice.
In addition to a beef patty or two, you can also get some mushrooms, onion, lettuce, pickles, cheese, mustard (or other dressings) and bacon.
Here is the nutrition profile (6);
- Calories: 779 kcal
- Carbohydrate: 5 g
- Fat: 64 g
- Protein: 44 g
As shown above, this bunless burger is exceptionally protein-rich, and it contains significant amounts of fat too.
In other words; this is one to go for if you’re feeling hungry!
7. Sous Vide Egg Bites and ‘Short’ Latte (Starbucks)
After years of only offering cakes and sandwiches, Starbucks has recently started offering a range of healthier choices.
Among these, their ‘Sous Vide Egg Bites’ are probably the best option.
What do they contain?
Well, it depends on the variety; you can choose from bacon and eggs, egg white and red pepper, and chicken chorizo.
Out of these three choices, the bacon and egg bites offer the lowest amount of carbohydrate per serving (7);
- Calories: 310 kcal
- Carbohydrate: 9 g
- Fat: 22 g
- Protein: 19 g
Additionally, the ingredient profile is reasonably good too, and there are no nasty ingredients like margarine, shortening or vegetable oils.
Although there are a few filler ingredients, these egg bites are primarily a combination of eggs, bacon, cheese and butter.
Add a short size caffe latte (10 g carbs) to the order, and you have a filling, low carb breakfast (8).
8. Sausage McMuffin With Egg – Bunless (McDonald’s)
Almost all the McDonald’s menu is low carb friendly, and just ordering without the bun takes away the refined carbohydrate.
One of the best low carb breakfast options is the ‘bunless’ version of Sausage McMuffin with egg.
This tasty breakfast option is missing the English muffin but still includes a pork sausage patty, a slice of cheese and an egg.
Nutritionally, this menu choice is almost zero carb and provides (9);
- Calories: 310 kcal
- Carbohydrate: 3 g
- Fat: 26 g
- Protein: 15 g
Combine it with a black coffee for a cheap and energizing breakfast that requires about a 5-minute wait.
9. Low Carb Steak Burrito Bowl (Chipotle)
Burritos are a vehicle for several healthy ingredients such as avocado, cheese, sour cream, and meat.
Swap out the wheat-based wrap for a ‘burrito bowl,’ and it becomes even healthier.
Usually, this menu choice comes with either rice or beans. However, you can also choose to go without them for a low carb version of the burrito bowl.
Order a steak burrito bowl, and you can then add fajita vegetables, sour cream, salsa, lettuce and cheese for no extra charge.
You can use Chipotle’s nutrition calculator to work out the nutrition profile for your custom-made burrito bowl.
For the one mentioned above, here are the nutritional values;
- Calories: 420 kcal
- Carbohydrate: 14 g
- Fat: 23 g
- Protein: 30 g
It is also possible to pay a small extra charge to put some guacamole in there.
10. Cheese and Ham Omelet (Many Cafes)
Go to any local cafe, and it is quite possible that they will have omelets on the menu.
The reason why is simple; omelets are nutritious, take minimal time to prepare, offer good value, and they taste delicious too.
Since eggs are predominantly protein and fat, this breakfast choice is very low carb too.
Nutritionally, a standard two egg ham and cheese omelet looks like this (10);
- Calories: 383 kcal
- Carbohydrate: 2 g
- Fat: 21 g
- Protein: 32 g
One of the best things about this one is the taste; a morning combination of pork and eggs is always great, and melted cheese makes it even better.
11. KFC Grilled Chicken Salad
Lastly, to balance out the beef and pork choices here is another chicken option!
The KFC grilled chicken salad offers chicken, lettuce, and a range of different fresh veggies.
While the nutrition profile states that it contains 15 grams of carbohydrate, this would be much lower if you don’t use the croutons and Caesar dressing it comes with.
If you do eat everything, here is the nutrition profile (11);
- Calories: 442 kcal
- Carbohydrate: 15 g
- Fat: 26 g
- Protein: 35 g
Watch Out For Condiments and Salad Dressings
One thing to note is that all the nutrition profiles mentioned in this article do not take dressings or condiments into account.
Often, these sauces contain significant amounts of sugar and vegetable oil.
To put it another way; they can completely change the nutrition profile of the food.
For this reason, it is probably better to avoid or at least limit them.
To sum up; if you have to pick something up for breakfast out of the house, it doesn’t have to be an unhealthy choice.
All in all, there are several nutritious and tasty options for a quick breakfast on the go.
That said, home cooking is always preferable, and a fast food meal will never rival a nutritious homemade one.
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