Straight talk, people: it’s not easy to dine out on the keto diet. That’s why keto blogs dedicate whole articles to navigating the tricky waters of staying true to keto while dining out. If you live in a region where specialty diets are accepted, respected, and accommodated, you can find plenty of options that include no carbs, or almost no carbs.
Unfortunately, I live in a city where vegetarians still struggle to find options, let alone someone eliminating one of the most basic macronutrient from their diet completely -- so dining out has been a challenge.
I found that many things you would consider an obvious choice when dining out, like steak or salmon, still contain carbohydrates! Chefs are using sugar-based marinades to flavor beef, chicken, and fish entrees; these carbs add up. If you’re at a chain restaurant, ask for the nutritional values and check for yourself.
Salads aren’t safe either -- salad dressings have tons of carbs, so stick with an olive oil vinaigrette if you go that route. Make sure you order grilled meat instead of breaded, and remember that the meat added to a salad may contribute carbs to your count as well, depending on what flavors and sugars have been used for flavor. Obviously, skip croutons, as well as tomatoes, carrots, and other high-carb fruits and veggies that may be included.
If meeting friends, I’ve been asking to meet at Chipotle, an easy go-to option for keto dieters. It felt bittersweet to trade in my mega-stuffed chicken burrito for their salad option, but I make it filling with double portions of steak & chicken, sour cream, cheese, and a half-serving of guacamole. The guacamole does have some carbs, which is why I only eat a little. I used the online Chipotle Nutrition Calculator to play around with the values and pick my meal. Here’s what the numbers look like:
You’ll notice that the carbohydrates for this meal are at 15; these numbers come almost exclusively from the guacamole. Because the dietary fiber makes up 9 of the carbohydrates, I’m left with 6 net carbs, making this a perfectly low-carb meal.
I have also ordered bunless hamburgers twice since starting this diet, which wasn’t quite as disappointing as I had anticipated.
Bottom line: it’s complicated to find an affordable solution to dining out on this diet unless you have access to restaurants that are specifically keto-friendly. I have found that I’ve had to order extra portions of meat wherever I am if I want to feel full at the end of the meal.
If you are new to keto and typically eat out at least once a week, I recommend planning your meals now. Start searching your area for options and research their nutritional information. Put together a small repertoire of options so you don’t find yourself stuck at a carbs-only joint with friends which can easily lead to a carb relapse.
My favorite options for dining out:
Chipotle: Salad with double portions of steak & chicken, cheese, sour cream, & guacamole. Net carbs: 9
Buffalo Wild Wings: medium order of traditional wings with a dry seasoning rub. Net carbs: 0
Red Robin: The Wedgie Burger (lettuce for a bun, guacamole, & cheese). Net carbs: 7
Any breakfast place: bacon & eggs (thank the Keto Gods for this option!)
While I’m challenging myself to live my best keto life, I’m not eating out much. I’m taking this opportunity to reconnect with the food I eat, and this process has brought my awareness to how little I know about what I put in my body. While I’m not planning on auditioning for MasterChef anytime soon, but I do find that laboring over my meals increases my enjoyment and appreciation for them.
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Day 11 Stats
Current Weight: 132.6 (Down 10.1)
Ketone Reading: 2.6