Are McDonald’s fries keto friendly?

Quick Answers

McDonald’s french fries are not keto friendly for most people on the keto diet. The main reasons are:

  • McDonald’s fries are high in carbs and low in fat, the opposite of a keto diet.
  • A medium order of fries has about 19g net carbs, which is very high for one meal on keto.
  • The 19g net carbs come from the potato and the added sugar in the coating.
  • Some keto followers avoid all deep fried foods due to the inflammatory oils used.

With that said, McDonald’s fries can potentially fit into a keto diet in extreme moderation or if you have high carb tolerance. Some tips:

  • Order a small size only and share with others.
  • Pair with a bunless burger wrapped in lettuce and high fat side like a cheese sauce.
  • Account for the carbs in your daily limit and restrict other foods.
  • Consider fries an occasional treat, not a regular menu item on keto.

Nutrition Facts for McDonald’s Fries

To determine if McDonald’s fries are keto friendly, we need to look at their nutrition facts:

McDonald’s Fries (medium) Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Net Carbs
French Fries 380 19g 44g 2g 42g

A medium order of McDonald’s fries contains:

  • 380 calories
  • 19g fat
  • 44g total carbs
  • 2g fiber
  • 42g net carbs

The most important numbers for keto are the fat, carbs, and protein. Let’s compare to typical keto macros:

McDonald’s Fries (medium) Typical Keto Macros
Total Fat: 19g 60-80% of calories
Net Carbs: 42g 5-10% of calories
Protein: 5g 15-30% of calories

As you can see, the macros for McDonald’s fries are very high in carbs and low in fat compared to a typical keto diet. 42g of net carbs is quite high for one meal or snack for most people following a keto lifestyle.

Why McDonald’s Fries Are Not Keto-Friendly

There are a few reasons why regular McDonald’s french fries are considered non-keto foods:

High in Carbs from Potatoes

McDonald’s fries are made from potatoes that are sliced, fried, and heavily salted. Potatoes are very high carb vegetables, with about 15-20g net carbs in one small potato.

A medium order of fries contains about 2-3 potato’s worth of carbs. Unless you are extremely carb tolerant, most keto dieters try to limit net carbs to 20-50g per day from all foods. With 42g net carbs, McDonald’s fries use up most of the daily carb budget in one meal.

Fried in Vegetable Oil

McDonald’s fries are fried in a blend of oils including canola, corn, soybean, hydrogenated soybean, and/or cottonseed oil. Most of these are high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.

Some keto followers avoid fried foods and processed seed oils due to inflammation concerns. Sticking to cooking methods like baking, grilling, sautéing in olive oil or avocado oil is recommended on keto.

Contains Added Sugar

In addition to the natural carbs from potatoes, the McDonald’s fries contain added sugars in the coating. The ingredient list includes:

  • Dextrose (added sugar)
  • Natural beef flavor (contains hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk)

Added sugars are very limited on a keto diet to help the body switch to burning fat for fuel and avoid blood sugar spikes. Many keto experts advise reading labels carefully and avoiding added sugar where possible.

High Carb Side for Most Keto Meals

Pairing a large serving of fries containing 42g net carbs with a keto friendly burger and drink can easily knock you out of ketosis. It uses up most of the 50g daily net carb limit some keto followers aim for.

As a guideline, sides on keto are usually low carb foods like salad, roasted veggies, cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles etc. Fries are more of a high carb side that is avoided on keto.

An Occasional Treat in Moderation?

Based on the high net carb counts, most experts would classify McDonald’s french fries as a non-keto food. However, some people following a keto lifestyle may be able to occasionally enjoy them in extreme moderation. Here are some tips:

Order the Small Size

The small size McDonald’s fries have 15g net carbs compared to 19g in the medium and 42g in the large. While still high for keto, 15g is more manageable as a rare treat.

Share with Others

Split a small order of fries with 3-4 people to reduce the carbs per serving. As a bonus, social eating improves satisfaction and reduces overeating.

Pair with Low Carb Items

If you do order fries, choose bunless burger wraps in lettuce leaves, no sugary soda or ketchup, a side salad instead of chips, etc. This helps balance out the meal macros.

Account for Carbs in Daily Limits

Plan ahead and reduce carbs from other foods on days you want fries. Stay under 20-50g total net carbs for the day with the fry carbs included.

Eat Infrequently

Make fries an occasional treat in keto, not regular menu items. Consistently high carb intake can prevent ketosis. Save fries for once a week or once a month instead of every visit.

Healthier Keto Swaps for McDonald’s Fries

To satisfy cravings for the taste of fries without the carbs, try these keto-friendly swaps instead:

Cauliflower Fritters

Replace French fries with baked breaded cauliflower fritters. With only 3g net carbs per 3 fritters, these make great keto side options. Adjust the seasonings to mimic a McDonald’s fry flavor.

Zucchini Fries

For a veggie fry alternative, slice zucchini lengthwise into fry shapes. Toss in avocado oil and seasonings, then bake until crispy. Zucchini has just 3g net carbs per medium zucchini and makes great fries.

Broccoli Tots

Use riced broccoli formed into bite-size tots and baked until browned and crisp. With 5g net carbs per cup, broccoli tots are a tasty substitute for potato-based tater tots.

Wings and Boneless Wings

Skip the starchy side and order keto-friendly wings or boneless wings. The wings at McDonald’s are simply seasoned and fried without sugary sauces. Enjoy them with ranch dip and hot sauce on the side.

Side Salad or Veggies

Rather than fries, complement your sandwich with lower carb options like a side salad with olive oil dressing or apple cider vinegar, or a bowl of roasted broccoli and cauliflower florets.

DIY Copycat McDonald’s Fries

If you want to occasionally replicate the McDonald’s fry experience at home, try making this copycat recipe:


  • 1 lb russet potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch fries
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika


  1. Cut potatoes into fry strips, soak in cold water for at least 30 minutes to remove starch
  2. Pat fries dry with paper towels
  3. Toss fries with oil and seasonings
  4. Bake at 425F for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway
  5. Optional: Finish by air frying for 5 minutes at 400F for extra crispness

Baking instead of frying reduces the oil and makes a healthier keto version. Use avocado oil or coconut oil instead of processed seed oils. Season to taste like the McDonald’s fry flavor.

The Best Keto Fast Food Sides

When dining at fast food chains on a keto diet, these low carb sides are ideal alternatives to french fries:

Restaurant Keto-Friendly Options
McDonald’s Side salad with ranch, apple slices, pickle slices
Wendy’s Baked potato plain, chili, side salad, chicken wraps
Burger King Sides: chopped broccoli, sliced apple
Subway Salad bowls, lettuce wrap sandwiches
Taco Bell Power bowl no rice, sides: guacamole, pico

Check nutrition info online and ask for custom orders like burgers wrapped in lettuce leaves instead of buns. Avoid sugary sauces, dressings, and sodas. With smart substitutions, you can stay keto-friendly at fast food chains.

The Bottom Line

To summarize, regular McDonald’s french fries are very high in carbs and low in fat compared to a keto diet. A medium serving clocks in at a whopping 42g net carbs, which exceeds most people’s daily limits in one side order.

Occasionally enjoying a small portion of fries in moderation may be possible, but effects on ketosis vary by individual. In general, McDonald’s fries are one of the least keto friendly menu options.

For best results on a keto diet, opt for low carb vegetable sides, salads, or wings when dining at McDonald’s. With smart substitutions, you can still satisfy cravings without kicking yourself out of ketosis.

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