If you’ve been on a diet before, you’ve probably experienced the frustration of going out with friends, watching them eat ‘banned’ foods happily while you were left hungry – or worse, having to miss out on social occasions entirely. Fortunately, the Keto diet isn’t too difficult to manage when it comes to dining (and drinking) out. Here are some strategies and tips that may help with eating out on Keto.
Keto-friendly restaurant food
When it comes to a restaurant’s menu, look for a protein meal, such as steak or salmon, accompanied by healthy fats and vegetables (or add them in as sides). Another option is to ‘build’ a meal with Keto-friendly sides or order a couple of entrees.
Because of Keto’s carbohydrate restrictions, you’ll need to avoid bread, pasta, potatoes and rice. You could ask the restaurant to substitute them for salad or extra vegetables, but if the eatery won’t do this, simply ask for it to be eliminated (to avoid temptation).
Here are some other things to keep in mind:
- Salads are generally a good choice, but you’ll need to be careful with some salad dressings and croutons which contain sugar. A simple olive oil and vinegar dressing works well.
- Tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, honey mustard, gravy and marinara are all sugar traps – the most Keto-friendly sauces are salsa, guacamole, mayonnaise, béarnaise and hollandaise.
- Many restaurant meals are low in fat, which, without carbs, will leave you hungry. One option to increase the fat content is to ask for extra butter and then melt it on vegies or meat.
- If a meal is marked as gluten-free, it may be Keto friendly too – but you’ll need to check with the restaurant that there are no added sugars or grains.
The Keto diet is unusual in that it allows moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages – but only certain types. Dry red or white wine are acceptable, and so are vodka, gin, tequila or whisky. Beer, however, is not (although some very low-carb beers are OK).
When it comes to non-alcoholic beverages, water will always be the best option because it keeps you hydrated – you may like to go with sparkling water with lemon for some variety. Coffee and tea are also Keto-friendly – just skip the sugar, and go for cream instead of milk.
Avoid milkshakes, smoothies, iced teas, lattes, fruit juices, energy drinks or soft drinks, as these are all high in carbs.
Quick-fire ‘eat out’ tips
- Plan ahead. Research the restaurant menu online in advance so you know what you’ll be able to order.
- Skip dessert and go for coffee (with cream) or tea instead. If you’re hungry, you could go for a cheese plate or some berries with cream.
- For Keto-friendly take-out food, making simple swaps is the best approach. For example, at a burger joint, swap out the burger bun and ask for lettuce wraps instead. At Mexican eateries, go for a burrito bowl (a burrito without the tortilla).
- At cafes, it’s sometimes easiest to order off the breakfast menu – bacon and eggs (without bread) is a good Keto choice.