What many people love about the ketogenic diet is the fact that you don’t have to restrict yourself to a limited number of foods. As long as you stick to your macronutrient ratio, you can eat a wide variety of different foods – including foods that are forbidden on other diets!
Though the ketogenic diet is much more freeing than many fad diets, it does come with its challenges. Eating out on the keto diet is one of them. Keep reading to learn some simple tips for finding keto-friendly menu items at your favorite restaurants and to receive tips for staying keto while eating out.
Which Cuisines Are the Most Keto Friendly?
If you’ve been following the ketogenic diet for any length of time, you are at least somewhat familiar with the foods you can and cannot eat. High-carb options like pasta and pizza are off the table (unless you make your own keto-friendly version) but there are still plenty of options. These cuisines are often the best when it comes to staying keto at a restaurant:
- Italian – Order an antipasto platter with meat, olives, and cheese or go with a salad topped with grilled steak or fish.
- Mexican – Go with fajitas but skip the tortillas then pile on the guacamole and sour cream.
- Pizza – While the pizza itself may not be keto-friendly, you can often find options like fried wings (just make sure they aren’t breaded).
- Japanese – Whether you’re going for Hibachi or sushi, there are plenty of options at Japanese restaurants as long as you hold the rice.
- American – Go for a burger (without the bun) or some grilled chicken or fish with veggies.
- Thai – Curries and coconut soups are a great option as long as you skip the rice and tofu.
Choosing one of these types of cuisine is a great place to start when it comes to staying on the keto diet while eating out. Keep reading to learn some additional helpful tips.
Tips for Staying Keto at a Restaurant
Every restaurant is different, so you’ll need to be flexible when eating out. If you know ahead of time where you’ll be going, you can check the menu online or call ahead to see what they can do to accommodate your dietary needs. In addition to planning ahead, follow these tips for choosing a keto-friendly meal:
- Skip the starch when choosing an item from the menu – go bunless for burgers and sandwiches, and omit the tortillas for things like fajitas.
- Avoid high-carb side dishes like French fries, potatoes, and rice – steamed veggies with butter are a great keto side dish or you could opt for a salad with oil and vinegar.
- Be careful about ordering entrees made with sauces because they could contain hidden carbs – gravy and dipping sauces are often made with keto ingredients but could contain hidden sugar and flour (ask how the sauce is made to be safe).
- Always look for ways to add more fat to your meal – maybe drizzle some melted butter over your steamed veggies or top your burger with bacon and a fried egg.
- Choose your fats carefully when you have the option – ask for olive oil instead of canola oil to dress your salad or go for ranch or blue cheese dressing if you’re not sure it’s olive oil.
- Skip the dessert unless you’re sure it is a keto-friendly option – if you want to indulge, ask for a side of fresh berries with cream (unsweetened) and mash them together.
Though most restaurants are able to accommodate unique dietary needs, there may come a time when you simply don’t have many options. In cases like this, you’ll just have to make do. Maybe you order a keto-friendly side dish to tide you over then eat when you get home, or perhaps you eat before heading out and just order something small.
Try These Keto-Friendly Restaurants
When you’re going out to dinner, the best thing you can do is plan ahead. Call the restaurant to ask about keto-friendly options and plan accordingly. Better yet, choose a keto-friendly restaurant if you have the ability to do so – here are some options:
- Red Robin – Try their grilled salmon, wedge salad, or a grilled burger without the bun. For sides, choose steamed broccoli instead of fries.
- Bonefish Grill – Choose from a variety of fish fillets or go for a juicy grilled steak, just skip the bun if you go for a burger instead.
- Buffalo Wild Wings – Go for a juicy burger with blue cheese and bacon or try their fried wings (just avoid the breaded wings and high-carb dipping sauces).
- Red Lobster – Keep it simple with grilled salmon or make it surf ‘n turf with a lobster tail and a filet, just skip the high-carb sides.
- Outback Steakhouse – Choose fatty cuts of beef like ribeye or prime rib and pair it with some steamed veggies (loaded with butter) or a simple salad.
- F. Chang’s – Though you’ll have to skip the rice or noodles, you can’t go wrong with some pepper steak or shrimp with lobster sauce.
- Bahama Breeze – If you’re craving Caribbean flavor, this restaurant offers several options for burgers and salads that can be made low-carb with a few adjustments.
- Olive Garden – Try the parmesan-crusted zucchini as a low-carb appetizer then finish it off with herb-grilled salmon or chicken piccata.
- Cracker Barrel – Not only is this chain all over the country, but they offer several keto-friendly options like grilled sirloin steak and lemon pepper grilled trout.
- Texas Roadhouse – Another popular chain, this restaurant makes killer ribs, though you can also go with a classic burger or grilled salmon.
- Applebees – If you’re out of other options, you can always find an Applebees and there are some great keto choices like grilled steaks topped with sautéed mushrooms or parmesan.
No matter what restaurant you end up going to, you should be able to find some keto-friendly options. With a little creativity and a few adjustments, most restaurants fit well into the keto diet.