Your Keto and Low-Carb Guide To Eating Out: Discover the 6 BEST Tips for eating keto at restaurants. Plus, get six copycat recipes for your favourite takeout for those nights you want to stay in.
When just starting a low-carb and keto diet, it’s always advisable to make as many homemade meals as possible. This is crucial as you adjust and learn about the kinds of foods that you should be eating as well as those that you should avoid.
But there will come a time when you want to venture out to enjoy a meal at a local restaurant (or fast food).
When that time comes, be sure to know which menu items are your best options. Plan ahead by navigating all those hidden sugars and carbs. The good news it's easy to make a good choice and choose low-carb options.
Enjoy your meal out with peace of mind, knowing that you are still eating low-carb and sticking to your ketogenic diet!
- Can You Eat Out On A Keto Diet?
- Keto and Low-Carb Guide To Eating Out - 6 Top Tips
- Will One Cheat Meal Kick Me Out Of Ketosis?
- 10 Easy Keto Meal Ideas When Dining Out
- Which Are The Most Keto-Friendly Restaraunts?
- 6 Keto Copycat Recipes To Make At Home
- How To Eat Out On The Low-Carb And Keto Diet? - The bottom line
Can You Eat Out On A Keto Diet?
Following a low-carb or keto diet doesn't mean you have to give up eating out at your favourite restaurants.
You just need to plan ahead when you want to eat out and stay low-carb.
While you can most certainly eat out while on a low-carb or keto diet, you do need to be slightly more mindful of what a particular menu has to offer as well as the foods and ingredients used to make the dishes on that menu.
Keto and Low-Carb Guide To Eating Out - 6 Top Tips
Once you learn these tips, you don't even need to find a keto-friendly restaurant to order a keto friendly option. Many restaurant menus will have good low-carb options that are a great choice for keto dieters. Some restaurants even have an online nutrition calculator so you can easily see the carb count of your meal.
#1. Stick to simple dishes that contain protein, non-starchy vegetables and healthy fats
This could be chicken or steak with some roasted broccoli or cauliflower and a side salad with some avocado. Even a grilled chicken sandwich could be your best bet, just don't eat the bread and order a salad bowl as a side dish.
TOP TIP: Order a chicken Caesar salad and ask for no croutons but extra bacon.
#2. Avoid added sticky sweet sauces and salad dressings on your food
If you’re ordering a salad, ask the waiter to leave the dressing off or to provide it in a separate bowl so that you are in control of how much is added. Most sauces are not low carb. Avoid sweet'n'sour sauces, honey mustard, barbecue sauce, and dry rubs. If these are the only options, remove as much as you can from your meal.
TOP TIP: When ordering steak or burger, opt for a cheese topper rather than a sauce that has hidden flour and sugar.
#3. Opt for grilled or baked food instead of fried
Often, food that is fried is likely to contain additional carbs such as batter or a breaded crumb coating. In addition to this, most foods fried in the traditional deep fryer are cooked in refined vegetable oils that are inflammatory.
TOP TIP: Always order grilled fish or grilled chicken rather than battered or fried.
#4. Stay clear of sugary drinks
While it may be tempting to indulge in a delicious cocktail at happy hour while eating out, keep in mind that these types of alcoholic beverages are high in sugar.
The same goes for fizzy drinks and juices. If you want to treat yourself, rather enjoy a dry wine spritzer (with sparkling water) or a hard liquor such as whiskey.
Hard liquors are also usually consumed at a slower pace which means that you’re unlikely to be ordering an excessive amount of drinks for what your low carb diet permits.
TOP TIP: Limit alcohol as much as you can because it lowers your willpower when it comes to making healthy food choices.
#5. Find a healthy alternative to dessert
If you are a dessert kind of person and love enjoying something sweet after the main meal, skip the dessert and order a snack board that could consist of full-fat cheeses, low-carb fruit i.e. berries and olives. But stay clear of any processed crackers that usually tag along with snack boards!
If you really want to enjoy a sweet treat, opt for the smallest dish, and the richest dish such as truffles, a small chocolate mousse or a coffee with a side piece of chocolate.
TOP TIP: Here's a great option...why not share a dessert with a friend? Half the dessert, half the grams of carbs, and fun to share.
#6. Ask your waiter about the ingredients
Don’t be shy to ask your waiter to find out the ingredients of a particular dish or drink so that you can make an informed decision. They may not know the nutrition info or which are the best keto-friendly options, but they will know the ingredients then you can easily decide which fast food meal is a good option.
TOP TIP: If a dish says "refined sugar-free" ask them EXACTLY what they used as a sweetener. Many cafes think coconut sugar, honey or dried fruit aren't sugars. These will raise your blood sugar just as much as table sugar.
Will One Cheat Meal Kick Me Out Of Ketosis?
If you indulge in foods that are not keto-friendly from time to time, there is a likelihood that it may kick you out of ketosis at that specific point in time but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to destroy your weight-loss goals, especially if it’s something you only do occasionally as opposed to regularly.
If you really want to find out if you’ve been kicked out of ketosis from indulging in a cheat meal, you could make use of various tools that are readily accessible online for home use to check ketone levels. You want to learn how to live sustainably long term with your low-carb diet, not be a slave to it.
The 3 best way to test ketones are:
- Testing your ketones with urine strips;
- Testing ketones with breath ketone meters; or
- Testing ketones with blood ketone meters.
It’s hard to say whether a particular cheat meal will in fact kick you out of ketosis but since most people associate “cheat meals” with refined and processed foods, the likelihood of it doing so is high.
Regardless, whether your goal for following the keto diet is to lose weight or to improve overall health, this can still be achieved even if you enjoy the occasional cheat meal (emphasis placed on “occasional”).
It's imperative to learn not to go overboard when having an off-plan meal or treat. It's one thing having a small slice of cake, but there's no need to go completely off track having cocktails, garlic bread, sweet'n'sour chicken with rice and a cheesecake to follow.
I teach PRO 4-week QUICKSTART members "if you can't STOP the splurge, LIMIT the splurge".
If eating cheat meals becomes more of a regular habit for you, it will definitely stall weight loss, if not prevent it altogether, so be mindful of not allowing unhealthy treats and meals to creep back into your weekly routine.
What Can You Eat At A Restaraunt On A Keto Diet?
With the low-carb and keto diet becoming more and more popular, many fast food restaurants are starting to cater for this way of eating, giving ketonians (I hope that's a word) many more fast food options.
Determining what you can eat at any given restaurant (whether labelled keto-friendly or not) is much like the kind of food choices you make for yourself at home when preparing meals.
Stick to whole non-starchy vegetables, a portion of protein and some healthy fats (either through nuts in a salad or avocado). And try as best as you can not drink your calories. In other words, stick to water or if you do enjoy a bit of alcohol then have a low-carb option such as hard liquor or a healthier mixer option such as soda water.
If in doubt about a particular dish, always ask the waiter to check the ingredients with the chef so that you can make better-informed decisions that align with your diet goals.
10 Easy Keto Meal Ideas When Dining Out
|EASY KETO MEAL IDEAS WHEN EATING OUT||SUBSTITUTIONS REQUIRED|
|Chicken Caesar salad||Omit croutons, ask for extra bacon|
|Grilled steak||Omit the fries, ask for a large side salad and mayo instead|
|Beef stir fry||Omit the rice, ask for extra bok choy|
|Sub of the day||Ask for it to be served as a salad instead of bread or a wrap|
|Full cooked breakfast||Omit the toast and ask for extra bacon and sausages|
|Burger meal||Omit the fries, ask for a lettuce wrap instead of a bun|
|Taco salad||Omit the rice and beans, load up on guacamole and sour cream|
|Buffet meals||Omit the bread, pasta, rice, choose meat, healthy fats and non-starchy veggies|
|Fried chicken||Omit the fries and ask for grilled, not battered chicken|
|Curry||Omit the rice, choose a tandoori dish without much sauce and a side of raita|
What Should You Avoid On A Keto Diet When Eating Out?
Being on a low-carb or keto diet at a restaurant can sometimes make you feel like a fish out of water. However, if you have a good idea of what to avoid then you’ll soon find yourself much more relaxed at the prospect of eating out and be able to enjoy your time (while also watching your carb intake). From personal experience, the main thing is to enjoy your meal, limit the splurge, find the best options with the least grams of net carbs.
Here are some items that are commonly on offer at restaurants that you should avoid in order to keep on track with your dietary goals, particularly when striving to remain in a state of ketosis:
So many dishes including “healthy” salads are drenched in sauces and dressings and these types of condiments are usually packed with sugars and carbohydrates. Likewise, some gravies also contain starchy thickeners so it’s always a good idea to ask for your sauce or dressing to be served separate to your meal or not at all. You can also ask for olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dress your own salad.
You then have control over adding small quantities to your dish or completely avoiding it altogether.
Other condiments to stay clear of include ketchup, BBQ sauce, and mayo. Most restaurant versions of these include sugar and other refined ingredients.
Ah yes, that oh-so-familiar bread basket that is complementary to most restaurant meals! The smell of freshly baked bread rolls can be extremely tempting so it may be good to ask your waiter to not bring any to the table when seated.
If you find yourself in a group of people that are wanting to enjoy these breadbaskets, consider ordering a healthy side that you can nibble on while everyone else is digging into the bread!
Cocktails and other sugary drinks that are high in sugar and carbs should be avoided completely. These have no nutritional value and are calorie-dense not to mention extremely high in sugar and carbohydrates.
Instead, stick to water (still or sparkling), low-carb alcoholic beverages such as hard liquors or black tea and coffee.
Learn how to make better choices once you learn how many carbs are in alcoholic drinks.
Most desserts offered at restaurants will not be appropriate for your low-carb and keto goals. Added to that is the difficulty in knowing all the ingredients included.
Unless you can find a keto-friendly dessert on offer, it may be best to skip dessert when eating out and leave that part of the meal for a homemade dessert you can enjoy another time during the week.
Why not opt for a keto coffee at the end of the meal or ask a friend for one taste of their dessert so you may enjoy the taste but not the carbs.
Complimentary Peppermints or Candy
Complimentary peppermints or candy are often provided when you get the bill for your meal and many of us have accepted them in the past without question.
Do yourself a favour and leave these behind - they are just pure sugar and won’t do you any good. If they gave you a sachet of sugar with your bill, would you eat that?
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Which Are The Most Keto-Friendly Restaraunts?
Some restaurants pride themselves in catering for those following a low-carb or keto diet and you could easily search for these online in your specific area.
Even if a restaurant doesn’t mention being keto-friendly, there is likely to be something to suit your dietary needs, especially at restaurants that have a decently sized menu, providing you with a larger range of options. Limiting yourself to a bakery, as an example, is not particularly helpful!
Whenever in doubt, always remember to order a dish that has a healthy serving of non-starchy veggies or leafy greens, protein and healthy fats.
There’s also absolutely nothing wrong with asking your waiter to adapt your meal to fit your dietary needs!
Some examples of keto-friendly restaurant meals:
- Subway, Jimmy Johns, or another sub shop where you can get the sub if the day as a salad, not as a sub or wrap.
- McDonald's bunless burger. Ask for a burger served as a lettuce burger or swap the fries for a side salad and place the burger patties on top (availability depends on the friendly nature of the franchise owner)
- Burger Fuel lettuce burgers or In-n-Out burger served protein style.
- Wendy's low-carb burger - you don't even need to ask for any substitutions! Yay.
- Chipotle burrito bowl without the rice and beans. Load up on the meat, veggies, cheese, and a dab of guac!
- Buffalo Wild Wings where you can enjoy the buffalo wings (watch the added sauces). Make sure to skip the french fries.
6 Keto Copycat Recipes To Make At Home
Save your time, your money and your carbs. Why not make your favourite keto restaurant meals at home.
- Easy taco salad + VIDEO
- Copycat KFC + VIDEO
- Copycat Taco bell + VIDEO
- KETO chicken curry and turmeric cauliflower rice
- Taco supreme recipe + VIDEO
- Chicken taco soup + VIDEO
How To Eat Out On The Low-Carb And Keto Diet? - The bottom line
At the end of the day, the whole point of eating out is to have a good time with friends and family with some delicious food that you didn’t need to cook or clean up afterwards!
So, instead of dreading the experience for fear of straying from your dietary goals, plan ahead by reviewing the restaurant menu ahead of time and stick to a good balance of non-starchy vegetables, leafy greens, protein and healthy fats.
Pair your meal with a glass of water with a slice of lemon or a serving of hard liquor that doesn’t include sugary mixers so that you don’t drink your calories.
Now that you have the tools to discern what to eat and what to avoid when eating out, you can step outside the comfort of your home kitchen and still remain true to your low-carb and keto lifestyle while eating out!!