Eating out when following a keto/low carb diet doesn’t have to be difficult or restrictive, there are lots of options and ways to adapt meals so you can continue on your low carb plan.
Following a low carb diet is a lifestyle and that means it needs to fit in with your life. It’s important not to feel deprived, so there should be no fear around things like social events, dining out with family and friends etc, as there should always be an option to fit your needs.
As always, planning ahead is the key to success, here are a few tips for dining out on keto.
- When possible get involved in choosing the restaurnat, check the menu online before you go so you know there is something keto friendly you’ll enjoy.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the restaurant to alter a meal to your needs, such as swapping out a steak with pepper sauce to garlic butter, asking for salad or vegetables instead of potatoes etc, you will be surprised how accommodating most restaurants are.
- Don’t skip meals before you go – arriving at an event or meal starving can lead to hunger-led choices.
- Base your meals around protein, then add some veggies and some healthy fats. Be mindful of sauces and always ask if they contain added sugar.
- If a dish comes with bread, make sure to ask them NOT to bring the bread, if it is on your plate, it can be harder to resist.
- Fill yourself up on a starter instead of a dessert, if you really felt you wanted to join in the dessert you could opt for a cheeseboard.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol before you eat, remember your alcohol tolerance is a lot lower when following a keto diet. Make sure you drink plenty of water between drinks and opt for lower sugar drinks like dry wine, spritzers with sparkling water or a spirit served with a sugar free soda.
General Cuisine & Pub Grub
Pub menus vary from place to place, but will usually contain at least some of these dishes
- Chicken Caesar Salad – Make sure to ask for no crotons, if they only have it as a starter, ask could you have a larger portion as a main or ask them to add in extra chicken or prawns.
- Burger – Most pub menus will have a burger of some sort, ask for the burger without the bun, add some bacon, and ask for a side salad instead of fries. Be mindful of dressings and BBQ sauce, it is full of sugar! You could ask for some olive oil and lemon as a salad dressing.
- Steak – This is a great option for most pubs and restaurants, choose a nice, marbled cut, ask for garlic butter instead of pepper sauce, you could even add prawns if they have a “surf & turf” option, and then a side of veggies or salad.
- Fish – There is usually a fish dish of the day, make sure it is not breaded and again you could have garlic butter or ask for a creamy sauce.
- Chicken Wings – Another pub favourite, opt for the Spicy/Buffalo wings not the BBQ or you could ask for no sauce and add a little salt, delicious!
- Seafood Chowder – A good chowder should not have flour or too many potatoes, but you need to ask first! If it is flour free ask for no bread on the side.
- Salads – Opt for grain free salads like a Nicoise or Greek salad, think lovely feta and olives, or a “Caprese” salad, which is tomato & mozzarella. If they have another salad on the menu you fancy, just ask them to omit the potato/grains etc and add more protein or mixed leaves.
- Prawns Pil Pil (sizzling garlic prawns) – these are a perfect option, just remember to say no bread as they usually come with bread!
- Chorizo – sometimes served with prawns or just braised chorizo, again omit the bread.
- Pork Belly – Make sure there is no added BBQ sauce, it often comes in little crispy squares of heaven.
- Mussels – again remember to say no bread.
- Meatballs – sometimes they may contain breadcrumbs but it would be a minimal amount.
- Mixed Olives – a great appetiser for keto
- Serrano Ham & Manchego cheese (no bread/crackers)
- Beef Cheeks, Chicken thighs, Iberian pork, meat skewers – again just check what they are marinated in and that there is no sugar or see if there is an option to get the sauce left off…
Indian cuisine is based on a lot of meat dishes, which can be perfect for a keto diet. If you are having a takeaway you can cook up some cauliflower rice at home to serve instead of rice. You’d be surprised at how less bloated you will feel! Keto friendly choices include:
- Most meat or seafood tandoori dishes, which are marinated with plain yogurt and spices before being cooked in oven. Skip the sauce and chutneys!
- Seekh Kebab, Lamb, and beef koftas – They often have a meat tasting platter too.
- Curry dishes will generally be low in carbs and you can opt for a plain sauce like madras or a creamy sauce like butter chicken or Tikka Masala. Skip the rice and order a side of veggies instead
- Saag Alena – Spinach and chickpeas or Saag Paneer – Spinach and cheese are great side dish options.
Most Asian restaurants will have adaptable options:
- There will often be a steamed fish dish on the menu, be careful with deep fried as it may be coated in flour.
- Stick to brown sauces, think soy or ginger, but ask to make sure there is no sugar added.
- Chicken satay skewers are usually a low carb friendly option, though there may be a little sugar in the sauce so you could ask before ordering.
- Crispy duck is another option, skip the pancakes and sauce and enjoy with a side of stir-fried Asian greens or a crispy salad.
- Crying tiger salad – This is a spicy beef salad; the sauce usually has added sugar so you could just ask for no sauce and some soy or chilli oil on the side.
- Thai curries will often have added sugar, but you could see if they could omit and just have some crunchy salad on the side instead of rice.
Italian is another very easy restaurant to make low carb swaps!
- Chicken breasts with a creamy sauce is always a winner, have a nice side salad or some steamed veg instead of potatoes.
- There will often be a fish dish that should be low carb or you can ask for the sauce on the side, tomato-based sauces may have a little sugar but shouldn’t be too high.
- Chicken Salad – There is usually a chicken salad of sorts, where you can omit the carbs and add extra protein or meat.
- Tomato & Mozzarella salad (Caprese) or Burrata (think of a creamy softer mozzarella) is divine!
- Most Italians will have a steak, again go for a garlic butter and a side of mushrooms and onions.
Mexican restaurants and street food cafes have a couple of dishes that can be adapted to low carb:
- Chicken fajitas with a nice side salad, instead of the wraps! You can indulge in salsa, guacamole, and sour cream on top!
- Burrito bowl – You can often choose from shredded beef, chicken, prawns and mix and match your contents, just leave out the rice and go easy on the beans for a low carb option. Again salsa, guacamole, and sour cream are all perfectly fine to add!
Unfortunately, most restaurants will not have any keto friendly desserts. If you really like something “sweet” after dinner you could ask for strawberries and cream, make sure to ask if the cream has added sugar though!
I often bring a couple of fat bombs in my hand bag and give them out at the table when coffee is served and everybody loves them! 😊