How to Eat Low-Carb at KFC

Are the low-carb options "finger-licking good?"

KFC restaurant
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KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken) is the world's most popular chicken restaurant chain. It has long been renowned for its "finger-licking good" fried chicken but has expanded its menu in recent years to include more health-conscious menu items.

Nutritional Information

For those on a low-carb diet, a nutritional information brochure should be available at all KFC branches. While the flyer covers many of KFC's classic menu items, it doesn't include information about specialty items such as sandwiches or bowls.

For these, you would need to go online and access their nutritional calculator.

KFC Chicken Options

It was in 2009 that KFC first introduced its grilled chicken, a decision that was lauded by the likes of Oprah Winfrey and other leading diet enthusiasts. As low-carb items go, it is probably one of the best of the best in the fast food world, offering zero carbohydrates, 210 calories, and two grams of saturated fat per chicken breast portion.

Other KFC chicken items range being acceptable to being downright poor. They include (from best to worst):

  • KFC Hot Wings: three grams of carbohydrate, 160 milligrams of sodium, one gram of saturated fat, and 70 calories
  • Fiery Buffalo Hot Wings: five grams of carbohydrate, 290 milligrams of sodium, one gram of saturated fat, and 70 calories
  • Extra Crispy Chicken Tenders: eight grams of carbohydrate, 320 milligrams of sodium, one gram of saturated fat, and 60 calories
  • Original Recipe Chicken Breast: 11 grams of carbohydrate, 1,190 of sodium, four grams of saturated fat, and 390 calories
  • Extra Crispy Chicken Breast: 18 grams of carbohydrate, 1,150 milligrams of sodium, six grams of saturated fat, and 530 calories
  • KFC Popcorn Nuggets: 39 grams of carbohydrate, 1,820 milligrams of sodium, five grams of saturated fat, and 620 calories

    KFC Salads

    KFC salads are respectable, low-carb options. Many of the specialty salads of the past had fried chicken pieces that were definitely off-limits. Today, most restaurants only offer side salads made up of iceberg or romaine lettuces.

    The Caesar side salad complete with the creamy parmesan dressing has four grams of carbohydrate and one gram of sugar. Avoid the parmesan croutons which add 12 unneeded grams to the dish.

    In terms of salad dressings, KFC has better options than most fast food restaurants. The best choice is the buttermilk ranch dressing at just one gram of carbohydrate per packet. On the flip side, avoid the fat-free version which has an astonishing eight grams of added sugar.

    The other low-carb option is the light Italian dressing with two grams of carbs.

    Sandwiches and Bowls

    Compared to KFC chicken, specialty sandwiches, wraps, and bowls are complete no-gos for the low-carb eater. Examples include:

    • KFC Double Crunch Sandwich with Bacon and Cheese: 46 grams of carbohydrate, 1,210 milligrams of sodium, six grams of saturated fat, and 590 calories
    • KFC Chicken Pot Pie: 66 grams of carbohydrate, 2,120 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of saturated fat, and 790 calories
    • KFC Famous Bowl: 81 grams of carbohydrate, 2,310 milligrams of sodium, six grams of saturated fat, and 710 calories

      Side Dishes

      KFC has only low-carb side dish to choose from: green beans with three grams of carb. Everything else—from the corn on the cob and cole slaw to the baked beans and macaroni and cheese—range from 14 grams to 43 grams per serving.

      In terms of beverages, the only sure bet is the Colonel's Tea which comes unsweetened. By contrast, all KFC desserts have well over 22 grams of carbohydrate per serving.

      Bottom Line

      KFC's grilled chicken greatly expands the low-carb options at this fast food favorite. If you pair it with green beans or a side salad with the buttermilk ranch dressing, you can keep well within your diet plan and still have room to toast yourself with an ice-cold cup of the Colonel's Tea.