What's For Dinner? Ketogenic Solutions
One of our most beloved clients, Jerry, came to us several months ago with nagging worries about his memory loss that had disrupted his life completely. Jerry was a local treasure, having been a successful high school coach for his entire career. He loved “his kids” and intended to continue doing what he enjoyed until his golden years. That was not to be. He started having memory and attention issues and was forced to retire early. His wife was distraught at the possibility of losing her best friend and lifelong partner. She had read Dr. Dale Bredesen’s New York Times bestselling book, “The End of Alzheimer’s” and reached out to Dr. Bredesen’s team at UCLA for help. Jerry was referred to us at A Mind For All Seasons® as the local experts best able to support him and he comes to our therapy studio three times a week. One of the key factors in Jerry’s decline is insulin resistance, a problem brought on by years of eating high levels of carbohydrates. Jerry has faithfully taken his recommended supplements and followed a low sugar; high good fat diet and he has lost over 50 pounds. But he desperately missed his fast food indulgences. He dreamed of a yummy cheeseburger on a Friday night with the kids on his team! As his Memory Coach, I set out on a mission to help him navigate this challenge and continue to protect his brain.
Dining out can be a challenge on a ketogenic or low carb diet and finding keto fast food options can be even tougher. If you forget your keto-friendly lunch at home one day or you’re traveling with only fast food joints around, it can feel impossible to find a meal that won’t kick you out of ketosis or violate The Enhance Protocol® eating plan. The good news is, you can follow a keto or low carb diet anywhere (yes, even at fast food places) as long as you know what and how to order. I wanted to give you (and Jerry!) examples of what’s available at some national chain fast food restaurants so you can dine out confidently.
Remember, though: just because it’s keto-friendly doesn’t mean it’s high-quality. Fast food is still fast food; it’s the quality and nutrient-density of what you eat that determines your long-term health. Also note that often you can find grocery stores near fast food establishments. It can be just as easy, perhaps less expensive and definitely healthier to grab an avocado, cheese stick, hard-boiled egg or some nuts on the go!
If you find you’re eating fast food every day, even though you might be selecting low carb options, you may want to reevaluate your diet. But if you’re only eating keto fast food on occasion, either for convenience or as an indulgence, you don’t have much to worry about — and you have a surprising number of good options. Review some of our quick notes below and keep in mind that if you know where you are going, you can pull up a nutrition guide on all major chains.
- Subway: All of Subway’s subs can be made into a salad. Select your meat and non-processed cheese. Opt for the lower carb veggie additions such as olives, green peppers, lettuce and pickles. Ditch the dressing or add some oil and vinegar.
- Chipotle: Stick with the salad or burrito bowls. Choose your meat, skip the beans if you’re trying to stay in ketosis, and take advantage of the fresh guacamole they make daily. Add sour cream if you like and load up on the fajita veggies.
- Burger King, Arby’s, McDonalds, Wendy’s: Pick most any burger, cheese is great, and lose the bun. No ketchup. Some places will prepare a lettuce wrap and some will serve it up in a bowl. Don’t even think about fries!
- Taco Bell: Skip the main choices and order sides – lettuce, cheese, meat, guacamole – combine for a great salad.
- Jimmy John’s: All sammies can be ordered as an “Un-wich” (their brand of lettuce wrap).
- Chick-Fil-A: The 8-piece grilled chicken nuggets have only 2 grams of carbs and they are darn good. They have a couple of good salads as well, with avocado lime vinaigrette.
- Starbucks: Pricey, but their anytime breakfast features a couple of different low-carb and tasty egg bites that won’t make you feel guilty.
- Panera: Panera is especially keto-friendly, with multiple keto items that you can order straight off the menu, no alterations. Obviously, their bread is off-limits, but there’s still plenty of low-carb fare to choose from.
So, armed with some of this information, Jerry now treats himself just once a week, to his new favorite – Jack in the Box cheeseburger with no bun, wrapped in lettuce. And Jerry is one happier and healthier man!