on May 16, 2019
Across the fast food universe, nothing unites people quite like the cuisine at Taco Bell. We recently did a piece on keto options at Chipotle, highlighting how the fast-casual chain is ramping up their health-conscious offerings with a variety of diet-approved bowl dishes.
But what’s a keto dieter to do when it’s 2 am and the crew has unanimously decided to hit up the nearest Taco Bell? Keto dieters need not fear. The keto-friendly choices at Taco Bell may be quick and dirty, but they are keto options nonetheless.
First of all, Taco Bell is one of the most popular fast food chains in America, so no matter where you live, chances are you have access to one nearby. Also, it has arguably one of the most cult-like followings of any fast food chain out there.
Secondly, Taco Bell is starting to take health and nutrition seriously. Since 2008, the Mexican food chain has cut the levels of sodium by 15% across the menu, and plans to further cut another 10% by 2025.
According to the Taco Bell website, the restaurant chain has also removed artificial flavors and colors from its food as well. Along with these changes, artificial trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and palm oil are no longer welcome on the Taco Bell its ingredients list.
The last reason why we’re shining a spotlight on Taco Bell is its customization-friendly reputation. Taco Bell fully supports customer substitutions on every level. Even on the company’s official website, the company promotes customers taking the menu to the next level by crafting a meal that fits you. This aspect of personalization, in particular, is the key to accommodating those on a ketogenic diet.
While Taco Bell may not appear to be the most keto-friendly restaurant at first glance, the menu is surprisingly full of potential. Here are a few pointers on how to make the most of the Taco Bell menu while still maintaining your keto diet.
Customizing your meal at Taco Bell is actually pretty easy, though there are no promises that your order will be 100% accurate coming out of the drive-thru window.
The key is to ask for extra ingredients that will help you reach your macros. Fire-grilled chicken, shredded chicken, seasoned beef, marinated steak, cheese, full-fat sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, jalapeno, onion, and pico de gallo are all good choices keto-wise. If you still are lacking in the fat column, you can always sprinkle on a little MCT oil at home.
Ordering keto at Taco Bell means you’ll have to remember to remove the rice and beans. These high-carb taco and burrito fillers come standard on almost everything on the menu.
While it’s easy to remove a tortilla at home, it’s another thing entirely to wade through a mushy mess of rice and beans since they have a tendency to stick to everything. The best call is to nip the rice and beans in the bud and not have them in your food to begin with.
The best option for keto diners at Taco Bell lives on the restaurant chain’s relatively new “Power Menu”. The Power Menu is where Taco Bell’s burrito bowl option lives, consisting of your choice of meat, with cheese, and avocado ranch sauce. This is by far the most keto-friendly option, but you will still have to nix the rice and beans that usually come in this bowl.
A few years back, Taco Bell got in on the fast food breakfast game with a full menu of Mexicanized breakfast classics. One of the popular breakfast items is easily transformed into a keto option with just one small substitution. The Mini Skillet Bowl comes with eggs, potatoes, pico de gallo, and queso sauce.
The best part? The Mini Skillet Bowl is on the dollar menu. By requesting no potatoes on this quick morning bit, the carb count drops from 16 grams to just 4 grams, and that’s including the queso. As you may have guessed, the Mini Skillet Bowl is quite small, so you may want to order two or three to really fill you up.
When it comes to Taco Bell Combo meals, the best strategy is to de-shell. The best combos for this include the tacos supreme combo, the hard or soft shell taco combo, or the chalupas supreme combo.
The thing is, you’ll have to discard any taco shell or tortilla that comes with these food items. The best way to go about this is to have an extra bowl or plate on-hand. Just pour out the contents of the tacos or chalupas into the bowl and stir for an easy, low-carb taco salad.
With a combo meal, it’s always nice to have a drink that ties it all together. However, when it comes to your drink order, the keto choices are limited. Coffee, Unsweetened Ice Tea, or water are the best options nutritionally, but you can also opt to get a diet soda, as long as it has no calories from carbohydrates.
For many, queso is equivalent to nectar of the gods. Unfortunately, Taco Bell’s queso is made with milk and thus has too many carbohydrates per serving for most keto dieters to swing.
If you’re looking to cut as many carbs as possible, your best option is to swap queso for Taco Bell’s 3 cheese blend, which is significantly lower in carbs and won’t knock you out of ketosis.
The special sauces that come preloaded on Taco Bell menu items are another no-go. Most add three to five grams of carbs per serving, which can quickly add up. A silver lining does exist, and it’s the pre-packaged Taco Bell sauces that come in packets. Your favorite mild, hot, fire, and diablo sauces will add zero grams of carbs each, which make these the best option for ketoers with sauce cravings.
Mexican food is known for its carbohydrate-heavy meal offerings. Though thoroughly Americanized, Taco Bell has the same issue with high carbohydrate foods. The simplest way to get the Taco Bell menu items you love is to remove the starchy culprits — rice, beans, and tortillas. You’ll be surprised how quickly the carbohydrates drop once these culprits are out of the way.
While those following a keto lifestyle can manage Taco Bell in a pinch, cooking your own keto meals at home will always be healthier and, more often than not, less expensive. You can still get the Mexican fast food flavors you crave with low-carb Taco Bell copy cat recipes.
One genius hack, the crispy cheese taco shell, makes keto Mexican food a handheld food again. Using a crispy cheese shell instead of a tortilla still delivers a satisfying crunch and can be easily filled with keto ground beef. This recipe for ground beef tacos is a delicious way to satisfy anyone’s Taco Bell cravings.
For those on keto, Taco Bell can be seen as a taco half full, or a taco half empty. The popular Mexican fast food restaurant has all of the right ingredients but leaves up to the people to ask for the perfect keto combination.
The bottom line? Taco Bell has keto options if you are willing to make the effort to order them. Your friends may roll their eyes as you dump out your taco fillings, toss a tortilla in the trash, or make a dozen additions to your Power Bowl. However, many on the keto diet will argue that it’s all worth it just to satisfy that fourth meal craving.
If you’re looking for more ways to supplement your keto diet with healthy choices and useful knowledge, check out more offerings from Left Coast Performance. From bone broth to collagen and MCT oil, they have everything you need to bring your keto life into perfect balance.