Eating Keto at McDonald's
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Eating Keto at McDonald's

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Eating Keto at McDonald's

Posted 8 months ago

SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD

SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD

On Keto, it's good to have a backup plan. 

When you realize you forgot to thaw that chicken you were planning to cook, or when it doesn't pass the sniff test, or when you arrive at a function that's full of carbs… you may actually want to consider McDonald's.

With over 13,000 locations in the U.S. alone and a menu of breakfast items and burgers that can be easily modified to make them Keto-friendly, Mickie D's is a good backup plan when your other meal plans fall through.

Here's how to eat Keto at McDonald's.

Note: fast food menus are constantly changing. This article contains all of the keto-friendly options available at McDonald's as of May 2023.

Best Keto Options at McDonald's

Need an easy Keto McD's order? Here are all of the Keto-friendly menu items at McDonald's.

Breakfast Burrito, No Tortilla

  • Comes with: scrambled egg, sausage, vegetable mix, cheese
  • Net carbs: 2 grams

Without a tortilla, McDonald's breakfast burrito filling serves as a Keto-friendly scramble. Order two or three for a more substantial breakfast.

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit or McGriddle, No Biscuit/Bun

  • Comes with: folded egg, cheese, bacon
  • Net carbs: 4 grams

With no biscuit, this meal is a simple breakfast of bacon, eggs, and cheese.

Egg McMuffin, No Muffin

  • Comes with: egg, Canadian bacon, cheese
  • Net carbs: 3 grams

One egg, a slice of Canadian bacon, and a slice of cheese is what you'll get with this order. 

Sausage McMuffin, No Muffin

  • Comes with: sausage patty, cheese
  • Net carbs: 2 grams

A couple of these are filling and fairly easy to eat on the go, consisting of just a sausage patty with a slice of cheese on top.

Sausage McMuffin with Egg, No Muffin

  • Comes with: egg, sausage patty, cheese
  • Net carbs: 3 grams

For a little extra protein boost, the Sausage McMuffin with Egg (sans muffin) adds a whole egg to the Sausage McMuffin.

Sausage Biscuit or McGriddle, No Biscuit/Bun

  • Comes with: sausage
  • Net carbs: 1 gram

A simple sausage patty. It may be easy to eat but a little greasy — so keep napkins handy!

Sausage Biscuit with Egg, No Biscuit

  • Comes with: folded egg, sausage
  • Net carbs: 2 grams

Without the biscuit, this breakfast is a simple egg and sausage meal.

Sausage, Egg, & Cheese McGriddle, No Bun

  • Comes with: egg, sausage, cheese
  • Net carbs: 4 grams

The only difference between this McGriddle and the Sausage, Egg, & Cheese McMuffin on Keto is the type of egg. This one uses a folded egg, so if you prefer that over a whole egg, then choose this option.

Big Breakfast, No Biscuit or Hash browns

  • Comes with: eggs, sausage
  • Net carbs: 3 grams

Without the carbs, your Big Breakfast will consist of scrambled eggs and a sausage patty.

Big Mac, No Bun

  • Comes with: beef patty, lettuce, cheese, Big Mac sauce, pickles, onions
  • Net carbs: 6 grams

"Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bu–" Wait! Drop the bun, and this McDonald's classic is perfectly keto-friendly at 6 grams of net carbs. Leave off the onions and Big Mac sauce to bring the carb count down to just 3 grams.

Quarter Pounder with Cheese, No Bun or Ketchup

  • Comes with: beef patty, cheese, pickles, mustard
  • Net carbs: 3 grams

The Quarter Pounder is an excellent choice for Keto, especially since the Quarter Pound Patty is made with 4 ounces of 100% beef and is completely free of fillers or extenders of any kind. Many people on the Carnivore diet will choose this burger in a pinch.

You can also order the Bacon Quarter Pounder with Cheese, with no bun or ketchup, for the same carb count.

Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, No Bun or Ketchup

  • Comes with: two beef patties, cheese, pickles, onion, mustard
  • Net carbs: 5 grams

For more filling protein and fat, opt for the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese instead of a single Quarter Pounder.

McDouble, No Bun or Ketchup

  • Comes with: two beef patties, cheese, pickles, onions, mustard
  • Net carbs: 3 grams

The McDouble with no bun or ketchup is an ideal Keto-friendly option.

If you don't want to order with no bun (which we totally understand), then simply order a plain McDouble and throw the bun away. You'll be left with two hamburger patties sandwiching a slice of cheese, which is easy to eat with no silverware — and it provides just 2 grams of net carbs.

Cheeseburger, No Bun or Ketchup

  • Comes with: beef patty, cheese, pickles, onion, ketchup
  • Net carbs: 2 grams

For an inexpensive small meal, a bunless cheeseburger is a good option.

Alternatively, you can opt for a Double Cheeseburger with no bun or ketchup for 4 net carbs or a Classic Hamburger with no bun or ketchup for 1 net carb.

What to Avoid at McDonald's

Here are some of the items at McDonald's that aren't Keto. You'll need to avoid them completely to ensure that you remain in ketosis.

  • Chicken sandwiches: All of McDonald's chicken options are breaded, so they're too high in carbs for Keto.
  • Filet-O-Fish: Likewise, the Filet-O-Fish is breaded — making it too high in carbs, even without a bun.
  • McNuggets: McNuggets are also breaded and fried. Although one or two may fit your macros, even a kids-sized order of 4 nuggets would be too high in carbs for Keto.
  • Potatoes: Hashbrowns and French fries are made from potatoes, so they're naturally high in carbs.
  • Pancakes: Pancakes, which are available on the McDonald's breakfast menu, are also too high in carbs from flour and sugar.
  • Apple slices: Although they are a whole food choice, apple slices — which are available with Happy Meals — contain too much fruit sugar for Keto.
  • Sugary sauces: McDonald's offers several sauces that contain added sugar and which should be avoided on Keto, like barbecue, honey mustard, honey, Sweet ‘N Sour, ketchup, and pancake syrup.
  • Specialty coffees: The McCafe menu features several specialty coffee drinks which are too high in carbs for Keto. Generally, black coffee or an Americano (espresso and hot water) are the best options for coffee at McDonald's. You can add unsweetened liquid cream for minimal carbs, but avoid the flavored creams and syrups because they contain sugar.
  • Baked sweets: McDonald's also offers apple pie, cookies, cinnamon rolls, and other baked goods. These are high in carbs from sugar and flour.
  • McFlurries, cones, and shakes: These items are made with ice cream and — in the case of McFlurries — candy, so they should be avoided on Keto.
  • Sugary drinks: Sweet tea, lemonade, and sugar-sweetened sodas should also be avoided on Keto.
  • Smoothies and frozen drinks: Finally, McDonald's Smoothies, Frozen Fanta, and Frozen Coke drinks are too high in sugar for Keto.

Is McDonald's Healthy?

Although you can make modifications to McDonald's menu items to make the macros Keto-friendly, that doesn't necessarily mean that these foods are healthy.

McDonald's foods are highly processed. With the exception of their all-beef hamburger patties, nearly all of the components of their Keto-friendly meals contain industrial additives designed to extend their shelf life or improve palatability.

Unfortunately, ultra-processed foods — even the Keto-friendly ones — have been linked to obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, and a host of other chronic conditions. [*]

For this reason, you should try to avoid making McDonald's a regular part of your diet (although we definitely understand when you need to hit the drive-thru on road trips or when your dinner plans fall through, or just to sate the occasional craving).

McDonald's App & Nutrition Calculator

McDonald's offers two major benefits to people on Keto: their app and their nutrition calculator.

Their robust nutrition calculator, available on the McDonald's website and app, provides full nutrition information for every menu item and possible modification. That means you can remove the bun, the ketchup, or any other combination of ingredients and still get an exact macro count (which you can then enter into Carb Manager to track your macros).

Likewise, the McDonald's app makes it easy to place Keto-friendly orders without needing to explain it to a cashier. You can simply make your modifications and place the order directly in the app, then go pick it up from your selected McDonald's location.

When you need something fast and on the road, and you need to be able to verify that it's Keto-friendly, McDonald's is a good choice. Just remember that even their bunless burgers are best as "once-in-a-while" foods.

Comments 7

  • RemarkableKale573695

    RemarkableKale573695 13 days ago

    I don't eat McDonald's, even the keto items, because their foods preservatives dont agree with me, and if yyhave any food allergies it's hard! McDonald's has a big issue with allergen cross contamination

    • SqueakyOatBear

      SqueakyOatBear 6 months ago

      You can also add eggs. My favourite order is a sausage McMuffin with no english muffin and an extra egg. Most of the time they will even stack it like a McMuffin with an egg “bun” and package it in a hamburger box.

      • MirthfulCauliflower645084

        MirthfulCauliflower645084 7 months ago

        You can also order amything al la carte. I order just 1/4 beef or sausage patties.

        • Prov31ruth

          Prov31ruth 8 months ago

          It would be far better to fast than eat at McDonald's. McDonald's and most other fast food chains offer zero nutritional value in terms of quality micronutrients and macronutrients. McDonald's food is laden with toxins. There are much healthier last minute options when "stuck". -- Linette Williamson, MD, ABAARM Functional/Integrative Medicine, Emergency Medicine

          • RemarkableKale573695

            RemarkableKale573695 13 days ago

            Couldn't agree more! What are some of your healthier last minute suggestions?

        • StellarCauliflower120732

          StellarCauliflower120732 8 months ago

          How can I save this article please?

          • RemarkableKale573695

            RemarkableKale573695 13 days ago

            I wonder that too. I also wonder why no one ever answers from the App's staff?