Part of making the ketogenic diet a lifestyle is finding ways to maintain ketosis even when dining out at our favorite restaurants. It is important to remember when eating out, we are in charge. We are paying the restaurant with our hard-earned money to dine in and enjoy a meal. This is crucial when trying to make meals more keto-friendly. It’s too easy to be sit back and be passive not wanting to bother our rushed waiter with our complicated no-bun, extra bacon, and side order of avocados. However, it is important to keep in mind that we are in control and there are strategies that can be applied to most venues when eating out to stay keto. There are ways that even the most carbohydrate dominated restaurants can be turned into keto-friendly havens.
When dining in a burger bar, the seasoned keto veteran will be in their own element. Most burger restaurants are becoming receptive to the lower carb movements and even offer no-bun options. Since burgers often come with all variety of toppings, a ketogenic dieter can get creative!
First of course, go for the no-bun option, then you can go crazy – bacon, extra bacon, maybe some added blue cheese sauce. If you are looking to replace those pesky fries on the side, most burger joints even offer a side salad! The options are truly endless in many [good] burger restaurants.
Known for their pizza and pasta meals, Italians can seem off the menu when eating out on a keto diet. But never fear, Italians are also known for their steak skills. Particularly, my meal of choice in an Italian is a rib-eye steak, instead of fries, add a vegetable side-dish. But, don’t forget the added butter on top of the steak if you are looking to increase your fat.
Now in the UK we love a good Indian meal. I know many of the commercial Indian restaurants are not authentic and are very much a Western play on what a spicy traditional Indian meal would consist of.
Taking all that into consideration, it is entirely possible to eat here and maintain a ketogenic diet but you will have to get creative. Many of the dishes come with a huge side of rice, of course this is not ideal. Many of the dishes come with some very sweet sauce, again not ideal.
What we can go for is a grilled dish. A popular choice of mine is a chicken shashlik. This is a grilled chicken dish that comes with some peppers and onions. Another option can be something like lamb tikka. The point is, use your imagination, avoid most sauces as they can be sugar laden and avoid the obvious sides.
Another point to note is that I doubt many of these restaurants use good cooking oils so if you have issues with vegetable oil intake then you may have to avoid them altogether [or use sparingly].
The meals found here will typically be noodle and rice dishes. But, it is possible to go low-carb and ketogenic here too.
For example, a common option at a Chinese restaurant is a good duck leg. They tend to get the perfect mix of crispy skin and moist meat and this meat can form lettuce duck wraps. Simply order half a duck and some lettuce, it will come with hoisin sauce which you may need to bypass but the cucumber and spring onions might be fine for you.
In addition, many of the clearer soups are entirely feasible in Chinese restaurants too. The meats can be coated with corn starch so it might be worth asking the waiter how the dish is prepared. An Asian stir fry with sauce on the side with some corn starch free chicken is the perfect keto friendly main dish.
The speed in which food is prepared can be a reason for people struggling to maintain a ‘healthy’ diet and many people will simply go for the quickest, most convenient option available.
It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom when trying to opt for a fast option. Many speedy burrito bars are popping up in the UK now and I’m sure there are in the US as well. These are the perfect pit stops for the keto amongst us. Simply ask for your meat in a bowl rather than a wrap, opt for no rice and then fire away with the guacamole and hot sauce, if you can cope with slightly more carbohydrates then peppers, cheese and sour-cream may be of use to you.
Alternatively, if you do have to go into other popular fast food restaurants, ask for a couple of bun-less sandwiches or salads with grilled meat. The server may look at you with confusion but rest assured, you are in control.
Eating out on keto can be a bit more fuss than usual and it can be a little less than ideal for some. But, it is entirely do-able, not only is it doable but it is actually a great way to change the flavors your pallet is exposed to and prevent you from getting bored on your ketogenic diet. For more on dining out on a ketogenic diet, check out our article; 4 Tips to Dining Out on a Ketogenic Diet.