When you start the keto diet there are several foods you have to cut out of your life. Meat, dairy, and fats are some of the only food left to enjoy.
When you are trying to cut carbs it may seem difficult to find keto-friendly options at restaurants or out on the go.
Initially, one may think Chicken McNuggets are a healthy choice while on the keto diet. Chicken is a recommended meat on keto and Chicken McNuggets are fast and high in fat.
However, the nutrition labels provide more information that may prove they are not fit for keto.
Here are 5 reasons why Chicken McNuggets are not as keto-friendly as they may seem.
#1 High in Carbs from Starchy Vegetable Flour
The keto diet emphasizes high-fat and low-carb intake. This means a daily consumption of about 165 grams of fat compared to 30 grams of carbohydrates.
According to McDonald’s nutritional summary, a 4-piece Chicken McNuggets has 11 grams of fat and 11 grams of total carbs. This is only a small percentage of recommended fat compared to nearly half the recommended daily amount of carbs.
The crispy breading around a Chicken McNugget is full of “vegetable starch” which includes “modified corn, wheat, rice, pea,” and more corn.
Additionally, there are three different types of flour on Chicken McNuggets; one is yellow corn flour, second is bleached wheat flour, and third is enriched and bleached flour.
A typical keto diet recommends a daily limit of 20 to 30 total carbs. In order to reduce carbs, you want to limit starchy foods.
Chicken McNuggets are heavily coated in starchy vegetables, flour, and starchy vegetable flour.
It’s surprising there are only 11 grams of carbs given how much starch is coating the McNugget. As you will see, there may be even more hidden carbs in the Chicken McNugget.
#2 Unhealthy Source of Fats
Despite the extra carbs, Chicken McNuggets are relatively low in fat. A serving is only 6% of the recommended daily amount on the keto diet.
In addition, there are different kinds of fats that are healthier than others. The fat in Chicken McNuggets is “vegetable oil” which contains “canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, and hydrogenated soybean oil”.
These three starchy oils are all unhealthy fats. They can lead to inflammation, obesity, type-2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
The healthy forms of oil that you want on keto are coconut oil, avocado oil, and olive oil. These oils are high in fat and low in carbs unlike the starchy oils used in Chicken McNuggets.
Starchy corn has been listed four times in the ingredients, as both an oil and a solid.
#3 Chemically Modified Ingredients
Corn starch as it is naturally poses no major risk to your health.
However, modified corn starch used in Chicken McNuggets is modified with chemicals to preserve shelf life, to act as a thickening agent and to improve the cycle of freezing and thawing.
This process uses dangerous chemicals such as sulfuric acid and chlorine, among others, which are not safe to eat. These chemicals can contaminate the cornstarch which could cause serious health risks.
Modified corn starch is known to cause sudden weight gain and may lead to a wheat allergy. The modification process described above does not necessarily mean the corn starch is genetically modified.
Due to the fact that a majority of corn in the United States and around the world is GMO, there is a good chance that the corn starch used for Chicken McNuggets is also genetically modified.
In general, it is best to eat natural foods on the keto, rather than chemically modified foods. Additionally, Chicken McNuggets contain additives that may affect your success on your weight loss journey.
MSG is often added to modified corn starch to improve flavor. Another major ingredient in Chicken McNuggets is yeast extract, the major component of MSG.
Yeast extract is basically the new MSG. Due to the overwhelming backlash against MSG, food companies have found an alternative that can easily be listed as a natural flavor or additive.
Yeast extract is used to enhance the flavor of the product making the meat taste even meatier. It is a somewhat safer alternative to MSG because it has less free glutamates.
Unless you are sensitive to MSG and free glutamates, yeast extract is likely not to pose a health risk. Additionally, yeast extract is only adding more hidden carbs to the McNuggets.
#5 Most Sauces Have High-Fructose Corn Syrup and High in Carbs
McDonald’s offers many specialty sauces for their Chicken McNuggets. There’s Tangy Barbeque Sauce, Sweet ‘N Sour Sauce, Spicy Buffalo sauce, and McDonald’s Signature sauce.
Each sauce has a unique flavor, a unique list of ingredients and nutritional value. The most similar are Tangy Barbeque and Sweet ‘N Sour; both have 11 grams of carbohydrates, zero grams of fat and high fructose corn syrup listed as the first ingredient.
There is no known nutritional value for high fructose corn syrup. It only adds sugar to your diet and poses serious risks to your health if consumed excessively.
High fructose corn syrup is known to increase the risk of fatty liver disease, inflammation, weight gain, and type-2 diabetes.
McDonald’s Signature sauce has only 3 grams of carbohydrates and 9 grams of fat; a vast improvement from the first two sauces.
However, soybean oil is listed as the first ingredient and corn syrup appears later on the list. Both are starchy, unhealthy oils that will drive up your carb intake.
A typical keto diet emphasizes a reduction in carb intake and to replace those carbs with healthy fats.
If you are on the go and think a small order of Chicken McNuggets with a sauce is a healthy Keto option, hopefully, this guide has shown that you may need to rethink that idea.
Chicken McNuggets are high in fat and high in carbs. The fat content may seem like an appealing alternative to the high net carbs, but Chicken McNuggets are not made with healthy sources of fat.
Rather they are filled with starchy, modified oils that can not only break your diet but keep you coming back for more with the additives and “natural flavors”.
Keto-Friendly Chicken Nuggets Recipe
- 500g Chicken Thighs
- 2 Eggs
- 1.5 cups Low-Carb Unflavored Protein Powder
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tsp Paprika
- 1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 1/2 cup Coconut Oil, for frying
- 1 cup Organic Avocado Mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp Dried Chilli Flakes
- 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- Cut the chicken thighs into bite-size pieces.
- In a bowl, add the protein powder, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, and salt. Mix well until combined.
- Whisk the eggs and set aside.
- Put chicken thighs in the beaten eggs then place them in the seasoned protein powder to coat them.
- Fry the chicken in coconut oil for 7 to 8 minutes turning frequently until cooked through and golden brown. Set it aside.
- To make the dip, mix the avocado mayonnaise, chili flakes, and cayenne pepper in a bowl.
- Serve and enjoy.
Chicken Nuggets On Keto FAQs
Are chicken nuggets keto-friendly?
Chicken nuggets are not keto-friendly it is high in carbohydrates. For instance, a 4-piece serving of Chicken McNuggets contains 11 grams of carbs which is too high for a typical keto diet. Chicken nuggets are also made with processed vegetable oils and modified cornstarch which are both linked to health risks such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Additionally, the dipping sauces of chicken nuggets contain high fructose corn syrup which may lead to diabetes, inflammation, and liver disease when consumed regularly.
What are the ingredients of chicken nuggets?
Chicken McNuggets contain the following: White Boneless Chicken, Water, Vegetable Oil (Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil), Enriched Flour (Bleached Wheat Flour, Reduced Iron, Niacin, Riboflavin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Folic Acid), Yellow Corn Flour, Bleached Wheat Flour, Vegetable Starch (Modified Corn, Rice, Wheat, Corn, Pea), Salt, Leavening (Baking Soda, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Lactate), Yeast Extract, Spices, Dextrose, Lemon Juice Solids, Natural Flavors.
What is the nutrition profile of chicken nuggets?
A 4-piece serving of Chicken McNuggets contains 180 calories, 11 grams of carbs (1 gram of which is sugar), 10 grams of protein, and 11 grams of fat.
What are the health risks of eating chicken nuggets?
A typical fast-food chicken nugget contains hydrogenated oils, modified cornstarch, and artificial preservatives which may lead to serious health problems such as diabetes, liver disease, cancer, and heart disease.
Are chicken nuggets lactose-free?
Chicken nuggets don’t contain milk or dairy so it is lactose-free.
Are chicken nuggets gluten-free?
A typical fast-food chicken nugget contains wheat which means it is not gluten-free.