Come dinner time, more often than not, you aren’t heading to keto restaurants.
You’re probably going to your family’s favorite spot, or the place around the corner. But fear not my low carb friends — no matter how carb filled a menu look, all restaurants can become keto restaurants with a few simple tips and tricks!
Here’s everything I’ve learned along the journey for keto restaurants success!
Keto Restaurants Tips for Success
From arming yourself with information to staving off the pre-dinner hunger pangs — here are some keto restaurants “ground rules” for staying on course, no matter where your social life takes you!
1. Do Your Research
Know before you go. Pretty much every restaurant has a website these days, with menus you can check out from the comfort of your own home!
Scroll through the menu and identify the keto restaurants options — things that come with minimal starches or ones that can be swapped for an extra side of low carb vegetables or low carb salads.
In some cases, you might be able to get creative at keto restaurants…
Say you’re going to an Italian restaurant — ask if you can get some pesto in a bowl with meat and veggies, rather than the noodles.
Or, order a couple of low carb appetizers instead of a full entrée. Cheese plates, shrimp cocktails, and big salads with low carb salad dressing (olive oil and vinegar is a great option) offers variety and keeps meal size to a reasonable minimum.
2. Set Goals
Speaking of goals, you’ll want to go in with a plan of attack, because the truth is, you’re probably heading to not-so keto restaurants, and you’ll have to say no to temptations.
Know the not-so low carb foods to leave off your plate: grains, breads, sugars, potatoes and starchy veggies. Plan swaps ahead of time, so you go in with a clear head and can order with ease.
Keto restaurants or not, it’s easy to give into peer pressure when dining in a group! Which is why planning ahead and sticking to it is the key to success.
3. Don’t Go to Dinner Starving
This is one of those old movie star tricks…
Try eating small, but satisfying high protein low carb snacks before heading out to your keto restaurants — think of no carb snacks such as a handful of nuts, a piece of cheese or even some low carb crackers.
This will take away those creeping hunger pains, making it easier to say no to dinner rolls and other complimentary pitfalls!
4. Sharing is Caring
Keto restaurants typically serve huge portions, especially at fast-casual spots and major chain joints.
Bring a buddy and split one or two mains. Even the act of transferring items to a smaller plate can help make sure your eyes aren’t bigger than your stomach — ultimately helping you with portion control.
5. Stay Hydrated
Drinking water is important for everyone — whether you’re on a low carb eating plan or not.
We’re often more dehydrated than we know, and sometimes we eat to satiate this. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, as well as during your meal — plus, drinking more water can eventually help differentiate between hunger and thirst!
6. Avoid the Obvious Pitfalls
Some not-so keto restaurants make splurging too easy. With bread on the side or dishes that come with rice or chips, dining out can feel like a minefield with starches at every turn.
If you’re dining alone, make all restaurants keto restaurants by asking your server to skip the bread basket and leave off the complimentary fries or chips — those are full of useless carbs and calories, and usually aren’t as delicious as we want them to be!
It does get a little more difficult if you’re out with a large group, when naturally those who aren’t concerned with carb counts dive right in! You can still ask for your plate to be served without those sides, and try to move the bread basket to the other side of the table.
It may help to order satisfying low carb drinks (soda water or a hot water with lemon are great choices!) while you wait for your entrée to arrive. You don’t want to fill up before the main event arrives anyway, right?
7. Be Leery of Sauces
Sauces — bringer of flavors, and unfortunately, the source of many carbs and sugars of indiscriminate amounts.
Of course, some sauces like Béarnaise sauce, olive oil, and mayo contain mostly fat. Others, like ketchup, gravies and BBQ contain mostly carbs.
If you have any concerns about the sauce, ask your server about its ingredient profile. Find out if it contains things like sugar, flour or cornstarch. As a point of reference, sauces like teriyaki or BBQ are filled with sugar — that said, sugar is easier to detect by taste than flour or cornstarch.
If it’s questionable, get the sauce on the side and add a little to your meal.
Same goes for salads — play it safe by ordering keto salad dressing on the side.
8. Keep in Mind Your Low Carb Fruits and Low Carb Vegetables
Keep an eye out for tasty low carb vegetables on your keto restaurants menu — leafy greens, zucchini, celery, etc. As a rule of thumb, if it grows above ground, it probably falls on the keto vegetables list.
When it comes to low carb fruits, your options are more limited. Look for avocado, or berries (raspberries, strawberries and blackberries).
Don’t forget about things like corn, peas, lentils, beans and potatoes — all of which are REALLY high on the carb chart!
9. Take Things Slow
There are a billion reasons to eat slowly, the most significant for this article is that it gives your brain a chance to acknowledge that you’re full.
Second, eating slowly allows for better digestion, reduces the risk of overeating, minimizes bloating, and helps you enjoy your food more. Sounds like a win, right?
10. Instead of Dessert, Try a Warm, Soothing Drink
Let’s be real, most keto restaurants aren’t serving gourmet low carb desserts…
If your co-diners are indulging, or you think you’ll be there for a while, try ordering a cup of tea or coffee (decaf/regular) with heavy cream while waiting for the group to finish their desserts.
What to Order at Low Carb Restaurants
If you’re looking for ordering tips and recommendations for various low carb restaurants (and not so keto restaurants), check out this guide! Each type of restaurant is listed, followed by what to order and what to avoid from each.
Some Keto Friendly Restaurants
Without delving into all the keto friendly restaurants in every city throughout the US, I thought I’d share a few common chains that’re the best restaurants for ketogenic diet based on their menus:
- Olive Garden
- Red Lobster
- Panera Bread Keto
All these joints have online menus for you to scope out before arriving!
Making Life Easier with Keto Delivery
Nowadays, with options like Uber Eats, keto delivery is so EASY!
Meaning, you don’t have to go to a restaurant and see/smell all the carbs passing you by, you don’t have to deal with bread baskets, and you can use your favorite keto recipes for sauce straight from your fridge (low carb ketchup, low carb bbq sauce, etc)!
I’m a huge fan of keto restaurants delivery on busy nights. Don’t forget your options:
- You can easily scope out the delivery menu online (use my low carb restaurants guide if you’re looking for ordering recs)
- Call keto restaurants for menu clarifications and customizations. They’re often more than happy to help! Plus, you can leave a note in your Uber Eats order about your discussion.
- Remember the tips above — sauces on the side, no buns/bread/starches, etc.
Keto Fast Food
Not everyone loves fast food — I steer clear of it unless I’m in a serious pinch.
But it’s comforting to know there are a handful of keto fast food joints to choose from! Here are some of the best keto restaurants to visit, click the links below for more detailed carb counts and recommendations:
- Keto Chipotle: Perhaps my favorite of the fast food keto restaurants. Chipotle is a super easy place to order from — make a burrito bowl or salad and top it with tons of zesty deliciousness!
- Low Carb McDonalds: Great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
- Keto Taco Bell: Another joint with both breakfast and lunch/dinner orders! The power bowl is king.
- Low Carb Starbucks: Think beyond coffee — Starbucks has a handful of low carb meals to choose from!
Tricks to Ordering Keto Friendly Fast Food
As I mentioned above, you can turn almost all restaurants into keto restaurants if you know how and what to order. Here are some tips for ordering keto friendly fast food like a champion:
- You can always order a burger/sandwich WITHOUT the bun. Ask for your order to be wrapped in lettuce — if that’s not an option, order in in a bowl with veggies, or a fork.
- Salad is almost always on keto restaurants menus. Order them with grilled meat, no croutons and dressing on the side. There are hardly any carbs in cheese, so don’t shy away from this tasty topping!
- Breakfast is an easy order. Eggs, low carb breakfasts meat and cheese are great — be sure to ask for your meal without toast and potatoes. If a swap is available, try ordering cottage cheese or tomato slices.
Word of Warning About Low Carb Fast Food Restaurants
I know how convenient low carb fast food can be, but, after reading this study, I’m scared to eat at fast food keto restaurants ever again! It delves into the various diseases associated with an increased consumption of fast food — give it a quick read if it’s something you’re worried about!
And yes, this includes kfc keto, mcdonalds keto and arbys keto choices!
Hope this guide helps you succeed at all the keto restaurants you attend! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below, or if you have some keto restaurants tips you’d like to share!