Low-Carb Fast Food Options: Chick-fil-A Edition

low-carb options at chick-fil-a

Eating out can be difficult when trying to maintain a low-carb diet, but thanks to the wide variety of options at Chick-fil-A, it doesn't have to be! With careful menu selection and a few simple substitutions, you can enjoy a delicious, low-carb meal at Chick-fil-A. In this blog post, we'll go over some of the best low-carb options available at Chick-fil-A, so you can enjoy eating out without compromising your diet.

Why Start a Low-Carb Diet? 

how to eat low carb at chick-fil-a

Low-carb diets have gained popularity in recent years due to the potential benefits for improved blood sugar control, weight loss, and overall health. In general, Americans consume more carbohydrates than we need. This over-consumption is easy to do. When you couple our busy schedules with the fact that many pre-packaged foods are high in carbohydrates, you have the perfect recipe for over-consuming carbohydrates. However, when we are mindful of our food choices and carb consumption, we can make a few easy changes and improve our health. By reducing the intake of carbohydrates, particularly refined and processed carbohydrates, we can help regulate our blood sugar levels, reduce cravings, stabilize energy levels, promote a feeling of fullness, and improve overall health.

Additionally, a low-carb diet can help improve your cardiovascular health by reducing triglyceride levels and increasing HDL cholesterol levels. It may also lead to a decrease in blood pressure and inflammation markers. For individuals with type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance, a low-carb diet can be especially beneficial in improving insulin sensitivity and glycemic control.

However, it's important to note that not all carbohydrates are created equal. Complex carbohydrates, such as those found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, provide essential nutrients and fiber. These should still be included in a well-rounded and balanced diet.

By understanding the importance of a low-carb diet and how it can positively impact your health, you can make informed choices when it comes to your food options. In the following sections, we will explore how you can navigate the menu at Chick-fil-A to find low-carb choices that fit your dietary needs.

The Basics of Eating Low-Carb 

the basics of eating low carb

Eating a low-carb diet has become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. A low-carb diet can help regulate blood sugar levels, weight loss, and overall health. But what exactly does it mean to eat low-carb?

At its core, a low-carb diet is all about reducing your intake of carbohydrates, particularly those from refined grains, sugars, and processed foods. Instead, the focus is on consuming foods that are high in protein and healthy fats.

To eat low-carb, it's important to choose whole, unprocessed foods that are low in carbohydrates. This means prioritizing foods like lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, non-starchy vegetables, nuts, and seeds. It's also important to minimize foods that are high in refined carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and sugary snacks and drinks. While not all carbohydrates are unhealthy (see our previous blog, “Not all Carbs are Created Equal”), the goal of eating low-carb is to minimize the unhealthy carbs that come from processed foods and sugars.

Understanding Chick-fil-A's Menu 

low-carb menu at chick-fil-a

Before we dive into the options for eating low-carb at Chick-fil-A, it's important to understand the menu and the ingredients used in their dishes. Chick-fil-A is known for its chicken-focused menu, which includes options like chicken sandwiches, chicken nuggets, and chicken salads.

One key thing to keep in mind when following a low-carb diet is to avoid foods that are breaded or have a high carbohydrate content. This means that traditional items like the classic Chick-fil-A sandwich and the Spicy Deluxe sandwich are not part of the low-carb menu.

However, there are still plenty of options available that can be modified to fit a low-carb lifestyle. For example, you can opt for grilled chicken instead of breaded chicken in your sandwich or salad. The Grilled Chicken Sandwich or the Cobb Salad with Grilled Chicken are great choices for a low-carb meal.

By understanding Chick-fil-A's menu and knowing what to avoid and what to look for, you can easily make choices that align with your low-carb diet. With a little creativity and modification, you can still enjoy a delicious and satisfying meal at Chick-fil-A while sticking to your low-carb goals.

Tips for Ordering Low-Carb at Chick-fil-A 

Ordering low-carb at Chick-fil-A may seem challenging at first, but with a few tips and tricks, you can enjoy a delicious and satisfying meal while staying true to your low-carb diet. Here are some helpful suggestions to keep in mind:

  1. Skip the Bun: One of the easiest ways to reduce carbs is by ordering your sandwich without the bun. Choose a grilled chicken filet and ask for it to be served on a bed of lettuce instead. This allows you to enjoy all the flavorful toppings without the extra carbs.
  2. Select Grilled Options: Chick-fil-A offers a variety of grilled chicken options that are lower in carbs compared to the breaded and fried options. Whether it's a grilled chicken sandwich, grilled nuggets, or grilled chicken club, these choices will satisfy your hunger while keeping your carb intake in check.
  3. Load Up on Veggies: Enhance the nutritional value of your meal by adding extra vegetables. Ask for extra lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles to bulk up your sandwich or salad. This not only adds flavor and crunch but also increases the fiber content. Fiber helps to stabilize blood sugar, keep you feeling full and satisfied.
  4. Be Mindful of Sauces: Many of Chick-fil-A's sauces are high in sugar and carbs. This is not unique to Chick-fil-A, dressings and sauces contain a surprising amount of sugar. Opt for lower-carb options like zesty buffalo sauce, garden herb ranch sauce, avocado lime ranch dressing, creamy salsa dressing, or their light Italian dressing. These options add flavor without the unnecessary carbs.
  5. Watch Out for Hidden Carbs: Be cautious of hidden carbs in condiments, dressings, and drinks. While they may seem innocent, ketchup and barbecue sauce can contain added sugars and high carb counts. For the average American, the majority of our sugar intake comes from sugary drinks. Always check the nutrition information or ask for a low-sugar or sugar-free alternative. Chick-fil-A makes a great sugar-free lemonade that is the perfect alternative to high-sugar sodas or traditional lemonade.

By following these tips, you can enjoy a low-carb meal at Chick-fil-A without sacrificing taste or satisfaction. Remember, staying committed to your low-carb lifestyle is all about making informed choices and being mindful of your options. Happy low-carb eating!

Low-Carb Breakfast Options

Starting your day with a low-carb breakfast at Chick-fil-A is not only possible, but also delicious. With a few modifications and choices, you can still enjoy a satisfying and filling meal without compromising your low-carb diet.

  1. Egg White Grill Without the English Muffin- One great option for a low-carb breakfast at Chick-fil-A is the Egg White Grill. This delicious sandwich features grilled chicken, egg whites, and cheese, all served on a toasted multigrain English muffin. By simply removing the English muffin, you can significantly reduce the carb content of this breakfast sandwich. Nutritional information per serving: 300 calories, 7 g fat, 980 mg sodium, 1 g net carbs, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 25 g protein
  1. Sausage, Egg and Cheese Without the Biscuit- For those who prefer a heartier breakfast, the Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit can be modified to fit a low-carb diet. By removing the biscuit and opting for a lettuce wrap instead, you can enjoy the savory combination of sausage, egg, and cheese without the high carb content. Nutritional information per serving: 360 calories, 32 g fat, 13 g saturated fat, 900 mg sodium, 1 g net carbs, 18 g protein
  1. Bacon, Egg and Cheese Without the Biscuit: In the same way that the sausage, egg and cheese can be adapted to be low-carb, we can remove the biscuit to save calories, carbs, and fat from the bacon, egg and cheese. Nutritional information per serving 130 calories, 9 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 570 mg sodium, 1 g net carbs, 12 g protein
  1. Scramble Bowl with Grilled Chicken or Sausage Without Hash Browns: The scramble bowl is arguably the most convenient and does not involve removing biscuits or buns. The bowl contains cheese with scrambled eggs and your choice of either chicken or sausage. If you opt for chicken, you can enjoy 80 fewer calories, save 12 g of fat, and enjoy 8 g more protein. Nutritional information per serving (chicken option) 260 calories, 15 g fat, 870 mg sodium, 2 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 28 g protein.
  2. Side of Eggs: On the liter side of breakfast, a side of eggs is high in protein, low in carbs, and will keep hunger at bay. Be cautious about adding sauces and sides. Ketchup can be a sneaky way to add a high amount of sugar to an otherwise nutritious breakfast.
  3. Side of Bacon: A favorite in the keto community, bacon. Bacon is best enjoyed when you don’t have to clean up the pan yourself so treat yourself to a side of bacon. However, if you are watching your salt intake then this is not the best option for you.

Low-Carb Lunch and Dinner Options grilled nuggets are low-carb

If you’re in need of a quick and low-carb meal on the run, Chick-fil-A has plenty of lunch and dinner options.

  1. Grilled Chicken Sandwich Without the Bun: This popular choice is served on a toasted multigrain bun. You can easily make this low-carb by opting for a lettuce wrap instead of the bun. Nutritional information per serving: 130 calories, 3.5 g fat, 550 mg sodium, 4 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 23 g protein
  1. Grilled Nuggets: The grilled nuggets are made from 100% white meat chicken. These nuggets are low in carbs and high in protein, making them a satisfying choice for any meal. Nutritional information per serving (8-count): 140 calories, 3.5 g fat, 440 mg sodium, 2 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 25 g protein
  1. Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich Without the Bun: This option is for the bacon lovers. Nutritional information per serving: 260 calories, 13.5 g fat, 870 mg sodium, 4 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 32 g protein
  2. Cobb Salad with Grilled Chicken: Make sure to specify grilled chicken to top your lettuce, bacon, corn kernels, a blend of shredded cheeses, grape tomatoes, and a hard-boiled egg. Nutritional information per serving: 370 calories, 18 g fat, 950 mg sodium, 10 g net carbs, 33 g protein
  3. Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap Without the Wrap: Turn the chicken wrap into a lettuce wrap by removing the tortilla. Nutritional information per serving: 350 calories, 13 g fat, 900 mg sodium, 5 g net carbs, 42 g protein

Remember, when ordering your low-carb lunch or dinner at Chick-fil-A, it's important to be mindful of any potential high-carb sides or drinks that may come with your meal. Stick to unsweetened beverages like water, diet lemonade, or unsweetened iced tea.  Avoid high-carb sides like the waffle fries or macaroni and cheese.

Low-Carb Sauces and Dressings 

low carb sauces and dressings at chick-fil-a

When it comes to low-carb options at Chick-fil-A, sauces and dressings can make or break your meal. While many of their signature sauces and dressings are delicious, they can often be high in carbs and added sugars. However, there are still plenty of low-carb options available to add flavor to your meal.

  1. Garden Herb Ranch Sauce- Nutritional information: 140 calories, 14 g fat, 230 mg sodium, 1 g net carbs, 0 g protein
  2. Zesty Buffalo Sauce- Nutritional information: 25 calories, 2.5 g fat, 390 mg sodium, 1 g net carbs, 0 g protein
  3. Creamy Salsa Dressing- Nutritional information: 290 calories, 31 g fat, 630 mg sodium, 2 g net carbs, 1 g protein
  4. Light Italian Dressing- Nutritional information: 25 calories, 1.5 g fat, 630 mg sodium, 5 g net carbs
  5. Avocado Lime Ranch Dressing- Nutritional information: 310 calories, 32 g fat, 520 mg sodium, 3 g net carbs, 1 g protein

It's always a good idea to ask for sauces and dressings on the side, so you have more control over how much you use. You can also try making your own low-carb sauces and dressings at home and bring them with you to enjoy with your Chick-fil-A meal.

Sides and Drinks to Avoid

When it comes to maintaining a low-carb diet, it's not just about the main dishes you choose, but also the sides and drinks you consume. Unfortunately, Chick-fil-A has a few options that are high in carbs and can derail your low-carb goals.

Firstly, let's talk about the sides. Chick-fil-A is known for their delicious waffle fries, but they are definitely not low-carb friendly. A small order of waffle fries contains about 43 grams of carbs, which is almost as much as a whole day's worth of carbs for some low-carb dieters. It's best to avoid them when possible.

In addition to the waffle fries, the hash browns and macaroni and cheese are also high in carbs and are not the best options when following a low-carb diet. Opt for a side salad or fruit cup instead, which will provide you with some vitamins and fiber without the heavily processed carbohydrates.

When it comes to drinks, steer clear of the sodas and sweet tea, as they are loaded with sugar and carbs. Instead, try unsweetened iced tea, diet lemonade, or water. You can also try adding a squeeze of lemon or lime for some extra flavor. Pairing a GOOD IDEA with your food can be a refreshing addition to your Chick-fil-A meal while simultaneously working to lower post-meal blood sugar. By drinking 1/3 of a can before your meal and finishing the can with your food, research has shown a 25% average reduction in post-meal blood sugar. By reducing glucose spikes and dives we can work to improve our metabolic health, stabilize energy levels, and reduce food cravings.

To-Go Orders

Eating low-carb at Chick-fil-A is definitely possible with some knowledge and strategic choices. By understanding the basics of a low-carb diet and familiarizing yourself with Chick-fil-A's menu, you can make informed decisions to stay on track with your dietary goals.

Remember to opt for grilled protein options like grilled chicken or grilled nuggets, and pair them with low-carb sides such as a side salad or fresh fruit. Avoid breaded and fried items, as well as sugary sauces and dressings that can add unnecessary carbs. Pair a GOOD IDEA with your meal to help stabilize your blood sugar and complement your low-carb lifestyle.

As with any diet, moderation is key, so it's important to remember that occasional indulgences can be part of a balanced approach. It's all about finding a healthy and sustainable way of eating that works for you.

The next time you find yourself at Chick-fil-A, don't fret! Armed with this guide, you can confidently navigate the menu and make choices that align with your low-carb goals.


Author: Dr. Colleen Gulick