WHAT IS THE KETO DIET
Like the Atkins diet of the 90s, the Keto diet is a high-fat, low carbohydrate diet that forces the body to burn fat rather than carbs
. Invented in the 1920s and 30s, the ketogenic diet was originally created to treat epilepsy in children before anticonvulsant medication was made. Most recently the diet has shifted to weight loss, letting adults follow a low-carb diet. Today the diet is totally trendy, with recipe books, apps, protein powder, and snacks hitting the shelves every single day.
The Fast food industry has even started creating low carb fast food to appease their health-conscious consumers and I was one of them this week.
THE KETO FAST FOOD BREAKFAST CHALLENGE
I love food. I love biscuits, homemade bread, and bagels. I go to the gym and eat relatively healthy but I’ve never cut foods completely out of my diet in the name of dropping pounds. So if I was going to test and critique keto fast food breakfasts, I was gonna do it right. For one week I only ate keto fast food breakfasts to find the best and worse. Eating keto later in the day at fast food restaurants is relatively easy because everywhere from Wendy’s to KFC and Five Guys offer menu items like burgers and salads without the buns. Breakfast, however, is a different story.
Day one! Right before the breakfast menu closed (yes, although McDonald’s has all-day breakfast this location ends breakfast sandwiches at 10:30) I ordered an Egg McMuffin without the English muffin. Coming in at 160 calories, 12 grams of protein, and 3 grams of carbs, the bunless McMuffin is a great low-carb option for breakfast lovers. The sandwich does contain 81% of your daily cholesterol, but being meat and cheese heavy, it’s pretty understandable that the keto diet usually pushes over this limit every day.
The sandwich was presented in a large take-out box which seemed almost comical. It was good but I would have loved to have the sandwich in a small bowl or container.
When starting this challenge I was most excited to visit Hardee’s because of their dedicated low carb breakfast menu. I ordered the Low Carb It Breakfast Bowl complete with folded eggs, a sausage patty, swiss cheese, and a loaded omelet filled with shredded cheddar and bacon bits. The bowl I got switched out the bacon for bacon bits and a slice of cheddar for shredded, and an extra egg was added.
Weighing in at 660 calories, this 38-gram protein monster kept me full until dinner. However, the bowl also contains 10 grams of carbs, more than three times the amount of carbs than the other two keto-friendly fast food options I tried the days prior. I couldn’t finish the entire thing.
Sticking to nutrition goals is often hard when you don’t have much time in the morning. But with more people trying different diet plans — from the high-fat ketogenic diet to the nutrient-dense Whole30 — fast-food chains are taking note that consumers want more breakfast foods low in carbs. Some are offering totally new items, while others are sharing meal hacks and swap options for diners.
If you’re trying to cut carbs, it’s important to understand what truly qualifies as a low-carb meal. Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of “Read It Before You Eat It – Taking You from Label to Table,” told TODAY Food that the term can be confusing because it’s subjective.
“Unlike low sodium, which is less than 140 milligrams of sodium per serving, and low calorie (which is) less than 40 calories per serving, low carb is in the eye of the beholder and really has no formal FDA-approved definition,” she said.