If you’ve been looking for the perfect fast-food place to visit on the keto diet, Kentucky Fried Chicken is one of the all-time winners. KFC is pretty much in the same league as Subway but is probably preferable for those folks who are looking for an extra dose of protein.
Although most chicken meals will be safe for you to order, we’ve decided to compile a handy list for you to check before making your order.
Below you’ll find the total carb content of all the meals that are worth ordering at the American KFC if you don’t want to risk your ketosis. All numbers stand for the carb content in one serving of the respective meal.
Original Recipe Chicken
Whole Wing - 3 g
Drumstick - 4 g
Thigh - 8 g
Breast - 11 g
Extra Crispy Chicken
Drumstick - 5 g
Whole Wing - 5 g
Thigh - 9 g
Chicken Breast - 18 g
Kentucky Grilled Chicken
Zero carbs in any of the available options. Be it chicken breast, thigh, drumstick or whole wing - order away without worrying for a second!
Spicy Crispy Chicken
Drumstick - 5 g
Whole Wing - 5 g
Thigh - 10 g
Breast - 11 g
Extra Crispy Tenders
Each tender packs 9 to 15 g of carbs, so this part of the menu isn’t recommended during the keto diet.
Hot Wings - 3 g
Georgia Gold Hot Wings - 4 g
Nashville Hot Hot Wings - 4 g
Fiery Buffalo Hot Wings - 5 g
Hot Honey Hot Wings - 5 g
Smoky Mountain BBQ Hot Wings - 5 g
HBBQ Hot Wings - 9 g
The only side meal worth ordering at KFC is green beans. They pack just 4 g of carbohydrate per individual serving, so that’s a pretty safe option to go with. All other sides pack anywhere from 14 to 43 g of carbs.
Both the Caesar Side Salad (2 g of carbs) and the House Side Salad (3 g of carbs) are good to order at KFC, but remember that this carb count doesn’t include croutons or dressings.
Croutons and dressings
Heinz Buttermilk Dressing - 1 g
Marzetti Light Italian Dressing - 2 g
Creamy Parmesan Caesar Dressing - 4 g
The only dressing we don’t recommend at KFC is the Hidden Valley Ranch, as it packs 8 g of carbs and no fats whatsoever, which won’t be good for your ketosis. Croutons also contain 8 g of carbohydrate, so keep that in mind before ordering.
Any diet soda or unsweetened tea would be a safe bet since their carb content is always zero. All other options contain 20+ g of carbohydrate.
Now that you know what meals are pretty much safe to order at KFC, take a moment to look through the forbidden list of KFC meals during the keto diet:- All sandwiches are a risky option (over 27 g of carbs in any of them)
- All pot pies and bowls
- All sides besides green beans
- All desserts, naturally
- All sweetened drinks and sodas
2 Kentucky Grilled Drumsticks (0 g) + Green Beans (4 g) + Caesar Side Salad (2 g) with Creamy Parmesan Caesar Dressing (4 g) + Diet Coke (0 g) = 10 g total carbs
3 Hot Wings (9 g) + House Side Salad (3 g) with Heinz Buttermilk Dressing (1 g) + Unsweetened Tea (0 g) = 13 g total carbs
2 Spicy Crispy Drumsticks (10 g) + Caesar Side Salad (2 g) without dressing + Diet Pepsi (0 g) = 12 g
The ketogenic diet is one of the strictest eating regimes out there. Every gram of carbohydrate counts, and every bite could make the difference between nutritional ketosis and your usual carb-fueled metabolism.
In case you forgot to define your carb limit with all due precision, here’s a quick rundown of the whole process.
Step 1: Calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
Your BMR is the number of calories you’ll burn throughout any given day even if you fall into a deep coma. This number is the perfect place to start your calculations before visiting any fast-food restaurant (and before starting keto, really).
To find your BMR, use an online calculator or grab a paper and pen, and use the formula below:
BMR = 66 + (13.75 * weight in kg) + (5 * height in cm) - (6.8 * age in years)
BMR = 66 + (6.2 * weight in pounds) + (12.7 * height in inches) - (6.8 * age in years)
BMR (kcal) = 655.1 + (9.563 * weight in kg) + (1.850 * height in cm) - (4.676 * age in years)
BMR (kcal) = 655.1 + (4.35 * weight in pounds) + (4.7 * height in inches) - (4.7 * age in years)
So, the BMR of a 22-year-old woman weighing 120 pounds and 65 inches high would equal:
BMR = 655.1 + (4.35 * 120) + (4.7 * 65) - (4.7 * 22) = 655.1 + 522 + 305.5 - 103.4 = 1379.2 kilocalories per day
Step 2: Adjust your BMR for physical activity (calculate your TDEE)Different people have different levels of physical activity. To adjust your BMR for your individual physical regime, multiply it by one of the following numbers:
- 1.38 if you rarely exercise (no more than 1-2 times our week) and generally lead a sedentary lifestyle
- 1.55 if you exercise (or engage in sports) 3-5 times per week, or if you have a physically demanding job at the moment
- 1.72 if you work out 6-7 times per week or regularly engage in very heavy physical work
- 1.9 if you are a professional athlete with vigorous daily training routines, or if you engage in exhausting physical work every day
So, if the woman from our previous example works out 3-5 times per week, her TDEE would equal 1379.2 * 1.55 = 2138 kilocalories
Step 3: Calculate your daily carb limit
In order to stay in nutritional ketosis effectively, you should limit your daily carb intake to 5% of your daily calories. Multiply your TDEE by 0.05 to learn your top limit, then divide this number by 4 to determine how much that would be in grams of carbohydrate.
For example, the woman from our example should get no more than 2138 * 0.05 = 107 kilocalories from carbohydrate every day.
In grams, that would be 107 / 4 = 27 grams of carbs.
Step 4: Get no more than 80% of your daily carbs from fast food
The reason for that is simple: you should leave yourself some safe space for possible failure and unexpected meals. If you eat 26 out of your 27 daily carbs from fast food, a single broccoli would likely ruin your daily carb limit.
Our favorite fix to this problem is to multiply your daily carb limit by 0.8 and avoid eating more than that at any fast-food restaurant.
So, for a woman with 27 grams of carbs as her daily limit, 21 gram would be a safe amount to eat at KFC. All the meal combinations we listed in this article perfectly fit that limit.
KFC is one of the best fast-food restaurants to visit during the keto diet, but we have a few other guides for you to check out as well!
No matter where you decide to snack, don’t forget to count your carbs and stick to your limit. Remember that the long-term health benefits of ketosis are well worth it, and you should be alright. ;)
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