What’s the one place in shopping centres that gets some of the heaviest foot traffic? That’s right, the food courts. When you hear the phrase ‘food court,’ you often think ‘cheap, greasy, fast-food.’ Luckily, food courts in Australia have undergone a significant makeover in the past few years.
Sure, the cheap, greasy food is still there, but now there’s so much more to choose from. You have a selection of more health-focused cuisine, ranging from street food to restaurant-quality dishes. Even those on specific diet plans will find something to satisfy their needs.
Let’s take keto as an example. Keto (short for ‘ketogenic’) is a low-carb, moderate-protein, high-fat diet. For the most part, people on the keto diet prepare the meals themselves, but it’s not always practical if you’re away from home or on vacation.
But now, with food courts offering some keto-friendly or customisable meals, you have more choice if you find yourself in a pinch. Takeaway food may not be the most ideal, but it will help you stick to your keto diet if your options are limited, like when you’re travelling.
Finding keto-friendly options is sometimes referred to as ‘fast food keto hacks’, but really, there’s nothing mysterious about it. You just have to choose food options that are low carb and high fat, and this may mean modifying a standard meal to suit.
So, who’s offering keto takeaway in Australia in 2021? Let’s find out.
Keto Options At McDonald’s Australia
Finding keto-friendly fast food is not as hard as you think. It’s possible to find something that fits your keto meal plan at McDonald’s, without blowing your daily macro budget.
Low Carb Options on McDonalds Breakfast Menu
Better keto options from the McDonalds breakfast menu include the McMuffins, ordered without the English muffin. If you want a more filling carb-free meal, the Mighty McMuffin is the biggest option, containing two bacon rashers, egg, cheese and sausage.
Of course, it may not be a very substantial or exciting meal without the carbs, but if you’re in a pinch, this ‘keto hack’ may get you through the day. If you prefer to eat them like a sandwich, you can substitute the muffins with keto bread or a low carb wrap. Bring it with you when you order your breakfast at McDonald’s.
Another interesting McDonalds breakfast menu is the new Omelette Wrap. It’s made from bacon, spinach, caramelised onions and tomato relish wrapped in an omelette rather than bread. While it still contains 11.3g of carbs, you can order it without tomato relish to reduce the carb count further – the relish is mostly sugar.
Low Carb Options on McDonalds Lunch And Dinner Menu
You can choose from the different kinds of McDonald’s beef burgers for your lunch and dinner. This ‘hack’ is actually a pretty simple guideline: order the burger with no buns, and possibly no ketchup if you’d really like to minimise carbs. Again, if you’d like to have a bun, bring your own keto bread with you.
Not a fan of burgers? You can try the McWraps; just substitute out the wrap itself for a lower-carb version. Go with the grilled chicken rather than the crispy chicken to avoid the wheat-based batter. The grilled chicken is available in the aioli, Caesar and wholemeal snack wraps.
In terms of salads, you can remove the tomatoes from the Classic Chicken Salad, or order a Caesar Chicken Salad without the croutons. Again, stick to the grilled chicken to cut down the carbs. Unfortunately, if you remove the tomatoes from the Garden Salad, you’ll just be eating lettuce. The balsamic vinegar dressing is the lowest in carbs.
For sides, it’s best to avoid things like the Chicken McNuggets, McPieces, and McBites – the crunchy coating on these is full of carbs.
Water or sparkling water makes for the best keto-friendly drink; however, you can always sub in a diet soft drink or Frozen Coke No Sugar and still avoid any extra carbs. Another carb-free option is a black coffee or iced long black from McCafe.
Keto Options At Hungry Jack’s
Another fast-food establishment with lower-carb substitutions is Hungry Jack’s. You can apply the same keto food hacks here as those at McDonald’s.
Hungry Jack’s did have a low-carb bun option for a while, but unfortunately, it didn’t become part of their permanent menu. That means getting a lower-carb meal at Hungry Jack’s involves ordering regular menu items without the bun or bread.
Let’s find out what keto meal options we can customise from the Hungry Jack’s menu.
Low Carb Options on Hungry Jack’s Breakfast Menu
You can choose between the different muffins and wraps for your breakfast. If you want to eat them like a sandwich, substitute the buns or muffins with your own low-carb alternatives.
They have a range of wraps, including the BLAT Brekky Wrap and BBQ Brekky Wrap. Remember not to include the muffins or wraps, remove any tomatoes and avoid BBQ sauce or ketchup to really minimise the carb count. If you’re really prepared, you can bring your own keto BBQ sauce.
Low Carb Options on Hungry Jack’s Lunch and Dinner Menu
Of course, this is the fast-food place where “the burgers are better”, so these will be your main options. Hungry Jacks does like to pile onion rings on some of their premium burgers, so try and stick to the simpler menu items.
Even without the bun, you can get a fair amount of food with some of the Double Whopper and Triple Whopper menu items, as well as the Triple Aussie Burger and the Baconator. You can even get an angus patty and pulled beef with the Grill Masters Pulled Beef & Angus.
In terms of chicken burgers, Hungry Jack’s does have a grilled option in either standard or peri peri flavour, plus chicken wraps. Avoid the new plant-based Rebel Whopper options, as the patty is made from soy and therefore too high in carbs.
Just choose which you’d like to order. Remember the standard keto modifications: no buns onion rings if you want to keep your macros in check. For your drink, you can have a diet Coke, or better yet, the classic water.
Keto Options At Grill’d
Grill’d have always been industry leaders in adapting to customers’ dietary and nutritional needs. Even better, they have more than just one or two flexible menu items, and most burgers can be customised to suit.
There’s something for just about everyone since Grill’d have not only keto burgers, but also:
- Vegan Burgers
- Dairy-Free Burgers
- Flexitarian Burgers
- Gluten-Friendly Burgers
This makes it easier for the customer to stick to their preferred diet, whatever that may be.
For those on a keto diet, you can order your Grill’d burgers with a Low Carb Super Bun or ‘naked’ (without buns). a fantastic choice is the Sir Truffle, containing a wagyu patty, cheddar cheese, cos lettuce, basil and truffle mayonnaise. All burgers can be customised and you can even build your own burger for a truly custom experience.
To keep the carbs at a minimum, avoid the regular beef and lamb patties, as they contain relish – stick with the wagyu beef and grilled chicken. To complete your order in keto-friendly fashion, add egg, avocado, bacon, lettuce, and onions. Avoid carrots, tomato sauce and BBQ sauce.
Keto Options At Subway Australia
Subway is another fast food restaurant that has a keto-friendly menu – if you make the right customisations. If you skip the bread and avoid higher-carb veggies, you can create a meal that’s low in carbs, high in fat, and moderate in protein. You’ll just need to avoid most sauces, tomatoes, and of course, the sandwich bun itself.
Low Carb Options on Subway Breakfast Menu
For a breakfast sandwich or wrap, you can order any of their sandwiches with a combination of bacon, egg, ham and cheese minus the bun. Some of these options do come with tomato, so request it’s left off to reduce the carb count. You can always replace the buns or wraps with your own keto alternatives in a pinch.
Low Carb Options on Subway Lunch and Dinner Menu
Aside from the usual fast-food fare of sandwiches and wraps, Subway also has a selection of salads considered keto-friendly with the right vegetable choices.
Subway has over twenty kinds of salad you can choose from, the most notable being:
- Buffalo Chicken
- Chicken & Bacon Ranch Melt
- Chicken Strips
- Italian BMT
- Pizza Melt
- Steak Melt
- Tuna & Mayo
These Subway salad options have less than 10 g of carbs. Subway even has a nutritional information calculator on their website, so you can select your preferred options and find out what the total carb count will be. JUst click through to a menu item and select ‘calculate yours’.
Subway is known for being very consistent with their nutritional information for everything on their menu, so you’ll easily be able to see how many grams of carbs, protein and fat you’re consuming.
Keto Options At Soul Origin
Soul Origin is a deviation from the usual fast-food fare. It offers food that looks like it came out of your mum’s kitchen—delicious and homemade. It has a selection of delicious rolls, wraps, salads (traditional and gourmet), soups, paninis, and baguettes. But are there any keto-friendly options at Soul Origin? Let’s find out.
Keto Friendly Options on Soul Origin Breakfast Menu
You can choose from Soul Origin’s breakfast rolls and sandwiches with ham, egg, salmon, bacon, chorizo, cheese, and avocado. The same keto hacks apply: no rolls or buns, and leave off the sauces or condiments to reduce the carb count further.
If you’re still hungry, you can also order a salad, which are available all day.
Lunch And Dinner
Keto-friendly salads at Soul Origin include the:
- Bocconcini Salad (4.2g carbs)
- Greek Salad (4.8g carbs)
- Chicken Avocado Salad (2.4g carbs)
- Chicken Chorizo Salad (3.1g carbs)
- Grilled Chicken & Steamed Veg Salad (3.1g carbs)
- Tuna and Avocado Salad (2.4g carbs)
These carb counts are for a small serving, so if you want a medium or large meal, you’ll have to check the macros.
If you want to use dressing, I’d recommend trying the Zesty Lemon Olive Oil or Zesty Balsamic. Not only are they the most keto-friendly dressings on their menu, but also some of the tastiest!
To add variety, you can try their baguettes, paninis, and wraps without the bread portion, but the value is far better when ordering a salad.
Keto Options At Nando’s Australia
At Nando’s, the spotlight is on the flame-grilled chicken, which is marinated for 24 hours before it’s grilled. Since you’re on a keto diet, you should do away with the sauces, as they’re higher in carbs. It’s not like you’ll be needing them anyway, because the chicken is already so flavourful! Best of all, you can enjoy it while consuming zero carbs.
If you want to order a side dish to go with your chicken, the safest bet would be the garden salad without dressing or grilled broccolini. Aside from the flame-grilled chicken, you could order a Nando’s burger or wrap without the bun, but the value is far better ordering chicken with a side of salad.
If you’re going to order a salad bowl, order it without the dressing, sweet potato, or black rice. You can also customise your order to add cheese, bacon, halloumi or avocado.
Keto Options At Oporto
Like Nando’s, Oporto’s signature meal is flame-grilled chicken basted with a choice of Original Chilli, Lemon & Herb, or Extremo Picante sauce. According to the nutritional information provided, their chicken basted with Original Chilli sauce will have 11.5 g fat, 22.2 g protein, and 1.9 g carbs per 100g. Choose between a whole chicken, half chicken and quarter chicken to customise your portion size.
You can also order the grilled chicken tenders, containing 15.3 g fat, 21.5 g protein, and 4.5g carbs.
When it comes to the burgers, all are made with grilled chicken breast fillets. If you choose to have any of the burgers, remove the buns, mayo or any type of sauce, and relish. The same applies to the wraps.
Unfortunately, all of the Oporto salads contain fairly high-carb ingredients. The lowest is the Classic Chicken Salad, with 8.1g carbs per serve. To push the envelope, you could try the Guacamole (2.8g carbs) or Seasoned Avocado (1.7g carbs) as sides.
If you’re looking for a brekkie meal, customise the Chicken & Egg Deluxe, Bacon & Egg Burger or Chicken & Egg Burger. Again, remember to remove the buns, wraps, and BBQ sauce.
Keto Options At Red Rooster
Red Rooster is another fast food place that offers roasted chicken as its primary item. Surprisingly, it’s also one of the restaurants with the fewest low-carb options, as most of their chicken products are now battered and fried.
The best option is the plain roast chicken, avoiding the stuffing. You can always try ordering the classic half- or quarter-chicken without chips (or feed them to a non-keto family member). Avoid the spicy wings, nuggets and buttermilk wings as they all have high-carb coating.
With salad options limited to slaw, there are unfortunately no keto-friendly sides at Red Rooster. The options available with fruits or vegetables are not exactly keto-friendly—onion rings, crunchy slaw, roast veg medley (with pumpkin and potatoes), pineapple fritter, corn on the cob, and peas.
Keto Options At Roll’d
Roll’d seem like an unlikely fast food choice for someone on a keto diet, but it’s possible to order any of the Phơ Noodle Soups without the noodles. This lets you enjoy the soup and meat portions without worrying about the carbs.
For the rice paper rolls, Roll’d provide low-carb variations that replace the rice noodles with cabbage. These do still have higher levels of carbs for a keto diet, though, including the Barramundi Soldiers (15.9g carbs), the Poached Breast Soldiers (13.6g carbs) and the Tofu Soldiers (14.1g carbs).
Roll’d also have a range of Vietnamese salads (Gỏi) which combine your choice of meat with red and white cabbage, among other ingredients. The lowest carb option is the pork and prawn, with 6.5g of carbs per bowl.
For the sides, you can try the Crispy Chicken Ribs, which are a huge hit and only contains 1.3g of carbs.
Keto Options at Kebab Takeaways
Don’t rule out kebab establishments for your keto-friendly takeaway night, as many have a range of options perfect for your diet.
When ordering, stick to a salad or kebab plate, with your selection of meat and a few keto-friendly veggie options. Be wary of hidden sugar in sauces – sour cream is usually a safe choice.
Keto Options At Chinese Takeaways
Chinese takeaways are a favourite takeaway in Australia. Even those of us on keto diets know how tasty Chinese takeaway is on a weekend night out with friends or a weeknight when there’s nothing left in the fridge before your big shop.
It can be challenging to find keto-friendly Chinese dishes, particularly at food court buffets. Of course, genuine Chinese cuisine is far more varied, but the popular Westernised dishes such as honey chicken and sweet-and-sour pork are full of carbs. Add to that the plentiful noodles and rice dishes, and you have a real challenge for those on a keto diet.
At a Chinese takeaway, look for the simplest meat and vegetable options, without batters and sweet sauces. It goes without saying that stir-fried noodles and fried rice won’t fit your macros, so focus on the meat and simple stir-fried or steamed veg.
Keto At Mexican Takeaways
Mexican takeaway has shot up in popularity in Australia in the last few years, and it’s easy to see why. Mexican food uses a beautiful combination of flavours and ingredients, producing truly unique cuisine. Just because their food is delicious doesn’t mean they don’t have options that work with a keto diet.
At Salsa’s, you can choose from the different kinds of burritos and bowls. Luckily, most of the burritos are also offered as a burrito bowl, but these also come with rice, black beans and corn salsa.
You haven’t heard the best news yet – at Salsa’s, you can swap the rice for cauliflower rice in any meal. Get ready to enjoy a chicken and chorizo, baja steak, or chicken and guac burrito bowl with shaved zucchini – all without blowing your daily carb budget.
For minimum carbs, order without the black beans and corn salsa, and add extra protein if you need to bulk up your meal.
Guzman Y Gomez
Ah, Guzman y Gomez. They also do an excellent Classic Burrito, but if you want it to be keto-friendly, you’d have to remove the tortilla, rice, and black beans. Luckily, you can enjoy the same great flavours with fewer carbs if you order a GYG salad.
Select your choice of chicken, beef, pork and barramundi, then you can even add extra cheese and sour cream as a decadent treat.
And if you make it to GYG in the early hours, you can even pick up a fantastic scrambled egg bowl, containing scrambled eggs, jack cheese, pico de gallo and your choice of bacon or chorizo. Just hold the corn chips and you’re all set!
Of course, we couldn’t talk about Mexican fast food without mentioning Mad Mex. A great option for all kinds of nutritional requirements, they even have a nutrition calculator on the website, allowing you to narrow down the best choices for you.
For a low-carb diet, the naked burrito is the best menu option to start with. You’ll need to have the rice removed, which is never a problem for their friendly staff. Stick with your choice of chicken, pork, beef or chorizo, plus lettuce, salsa, cheese and sour cream.
Keto Options At A Food Court Carvery
To this day, there’s still nothing quite like a carvery. They can be seen in all sorts of places all around the world, and it’s easy to see why they’re an absolute classic.
Here in Australia, we love going into an establishment and getting freshly cut slices of meat hot out of the oven as much as anywhere else. That’s why no good keto-friendly take out list would be complete without a top-quality carvery.
It’s also easy to customise your meal here – you can order your choice of delicious roast meat (complete with pork crackling!) and a few low-carb veggies or sides. If you’re really strict about your carb consumption, you can even get away with an extra-large portion of your preferred roast.
What Is Dirty Keto Or Lazy Keto?
A dirty or lazy keto diet is less strict than the traditional keto diet. It doesn’t require you to count your carb, fat, protein, and calorie intake precisely. The goal is to consume food with very low carbs without all the number crunching. So, all you have to do is monitor your carb consumption, making things simpler to manage. However, it also has its downsides.
Consuming food that’s only low in carbs may not help you reach ketosis, which is the process of burning fat instead of carbs. If you don’t have enough fat to burn, then your body may burn protein in its place. Not having enough fat in your body will also make you hungry, so substituting carbs with fat is essential for maintaining a keto diet.
Can You Drink Diet Coke On A Keto Diet?
It’s technically okay to drink diet sodas (like Diet Coke) on keto. They do contain zero sugar and zero carbs, since they contain artificial sweeteners instead. However, it’s a good idea to drink them in moderation, whether you’re keto or not. Diet sodas have been known to have adverse effects on health and on weight loss, so many people prefer to avoid them.
Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links, meaning that if you click through and buy something, I may get a (very) small commission. This doesn’t cost you any extra and helps me build my passion for keto cooking into a livelihood. All opinions and recommendations reflect my own views.
Note: All nutritional values and product information is accurate at the time of posting, but you should always check the label, especially when it comes to allergens or other health concerns. Information shared through this blog is derived from my own experience and learning – for any medical advice regarding diet and nutrition, or before changing your diet drastically, I recommend consulting a doctor or nutritionist.