If you’ve ever attempted a ketogenic diet, you probably found that you did well with it at first when you were in a normal routine and eating at home. Heck, maybe you even found it fun and easy! However, the second you were faced with eating out in a social situation, that’s when things started to go awry. Because, as you notice when you’re doing keto, everything seems to contain carbs. Chances are, you either caved and ordered some delicious carby goodness (kicking yourself out of ketosis, meaning you’d have to restart the whole process) or ordered plain boiled vegetables and death-stared all your friends as they happily devoured their burgers or pizza.
But here’s the thing: it is possible to eat out on a ketogenic diet. Even at fast food places! It’s just a matter of knowing what to order. And no, that doesn’t mean plain salad or vegetables. Read on for our guide to eating keto at every time of fast food place or restaurant.
Opt for: Burrito bowl without the rice
Mexican joints are actually some of the easiest fast food places to eat keto at. Just order a burrito bowl and ask them to hold the rice. Don’t be afraid to add all the bells and whistles like guacamole, sour cream and cheese and voila, you’ve got yourself one high fat, protein-rich meal. Just be careful about the sauce—ask for it on the side and look up nutritional info if you can—it could be loaded with hidden carbs.
Opt for: Burger in a bowl
All the best parts of burgers are still on the table for keto dieters—the beef patty, bacon and cheese. Many burger places will let you have it in a ‘bowl’, by substituting the burger buns with large pieces of iceberg lettuce. If the meat is tasty enough, you won’t even notice the bread isn’t there! Here in Australia, Grill’d Healthy Burgers also does low carb buns. While the ingredients technically aren’t keto, you could easily stay in ketosis if you’re tracking your macros and staying under your carbs.
Opt for: Chicken satay sticks, Thai beef salad, stir-fry without rice
The solution to eating keto at a Thai restaurant seems simple—ditch the rice. However, you never really know what’s in the stir-fry sauces and the sugar could potentially kick you out of ketosis. Generally, chicken satay sticks are a relatively safe option, as is a Thai beef salad. If you do want to go for a stir-fry or curry, see if you can ask them not to add sugar and opt for a Tom Yum soup, coconut curry or basil chicken stir-fry.
Opt for: San choy bow, plain roasted duck without the pancakes, stir-fry without rice
Much like Thai, Chinese food presents the challenge of not knowing what’s in the stir-fry sauces. However, entrees like san choy bow (lettuce wraps) and plain roasted duck without the pancakes make great low-carb options. Egg Foo Youn (an egg-based dish) and stir-fries with a garlic sauce base are also good choices.
Opt for: Meat skewers, Greek salad, grilled fish
With a plethora of meat and salad options available at Greek, Turkish or Lebanese restaurants, Mediterranean dining is a smorgasbord with ketogenic dieters. Just make sure you stay away from the breads and if you go for meatballs, ask what they’re coated in.
Opt for: Sashimi, miso soup, edamame, yakitori
Eating keto at a Japanese restaurant is often a matter of ordering a few little things to keep you full. Sashimi (raw fish), miso soup, edamame (soy beans) and yakitori (chicken skewers) are all delicious, low-carb options.
Opt for: Steak or other meats, Caprese salad, cold cuts
Unfortunately, pasta and pizza are completely off the table when you’re keto—although, if you live in Australia, Crust Gourmet Pizza has a low-carb base. However, that doesn’t mean you have to boycott Italian restaurants completely. Steak and other meat options with a salad like Caprese on the side are great options, as is a charcuterie board sans bread or crackers.
Opt for: Tandoori chicken (or other meats), meat tikka, chicken korma
Same deal with Thai and Chinese: order a curry without the rice, but be careful about which one you go for. The aforementioned curries are all pretty safe options, just make sure you check they don’t have aloo (potatoes) in them.
Opt for: Grilled fish with salad
It goes without saying that chips are out of the question when you’re on a keto diet. However, if you order fish without the batter and get salad on the side, this can actually be a tasty, keto-friendly meal!
Opt for: Meals including tofu, chickpeas or mushrooms
Here’s where it gets really tricky, as most of the options that make keto do-able involve animal protein sources. However, it is still possible to eat out as a ketotarian. Soybeans and mushrooms are relatively low-carb and can be incorporated into many of the meals listed above. For example, you could get a stir-fry or curry without the rice with tofu instead of the meat, or order a mushroom burger without the bun.
What’s eating out without the dessert afterwards? Unfortunately, you’ll probably have to do it at home, as pretty much any restaurant dessert is going to be packed with sugar and therefore, carbs (unless it’s the low carb cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory). And yes, that includes fruit salad! However, keeping pints of low carb ice cream like Halo Top or Arctic Zero in the freezer can help in emergencies (just make sure you factor the carbs into your macros) You could also make one of these keto desserts.