Seven Tips for Eating Out on the Keto Diet
If you spend any amount of time on the Internet you’ve likely seen the word “Keto” come up in countless articles and social media posts. Maybe you even read our post How to Steal from the Keto Diet. It’s one of the latest low-carb diet crazes that, according to over 20 studies, is among the most effective for producing substantial weight loss results in a relatively short time frame, plus other added health benefits.
The Keto Diet, short for “ketogenic” is an extremely low-crab, high-fat diet, similar to the Atkins Diet, which became popular in 2001 with the re-introduction of Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution that he first developed in 1972. Swapping carbs for protein has been around a long time, but what makes a ketogenic diet different is drastically reducing carb intake and replacing it with enough fat to put your body in a metabolic state called “ketosis.” When this occurs, your body’s ability to burn fat into energy is heightened, allowing you to burn more calories faster while also producing ketones in the liver that supply energy to the brain.
It’s no wonder this diet has been embraced by celebrities and consumers alike to achieve their weight loss goals. But since it’s so specialized, it can often be difficult to reach for the right foods when you’re not at home, so we’re sharing seven tips for staying disciplined when dining out.
Choose the Restaurant Wisely
Fortunately, we live in a digital age where most restaurant menus are available online, so you can peruse their selections beforehand to ensure there’s something that will work for you, or that can be customized to your diet regimen. Usually this only requires a few minor tweaks to keep Keto-friendly and most restaurants have become accustomed to substitutions. “Always be sure to ask the server if there is sugar, honey or flour in any dish you are ordering,” advises Healthy Pastry Chef and Keto devotee Vanessa Musi. “Many dishes contain those ingredients and are not listed.” Vanessa also suggests picking healthy places where you can customize salads or bowls, such as Whole Foods, True Food Kitchen, “and most steakhouses have great vegetable options,” she adds. Looking for fast food options? Women’s Health found 23 keto-friendly chain restaurants.
Skip the Starch
The easiest way to avoid Keto pitfalls is to ban bread, pasta, and rice of any kind from your meal. Substitute greens for French fries, ditch the bun for a lettuce wrap on burgers or sandwiches, and keep your sides limited to low-carb veggies like zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower or squash. Steer clear of carrots, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, and beets, which are high in both carbs and sugar. If you do decide on a burger, go with a protein-rich beef or turkey option over meat alternatives like black bean or quinoa patties that, while high in fiber, are also extremely high in carbs.
Say No to Sugar
There is more hidden sugar on restaurant menus than you might think. When you’re out at lunch or coffee with friends, that fruity yogurt may seem like a safe option, but sweetened yogurts often contain as many carbs as ice cream or other desserts. Best to stick with plain Greek yogurt whenever possible, and if you’re craving some sweetness, adding raspberries will keep your digestible carbs to a minimum. Juices also have a sneaky way of tricking consumers into thinking they’re healthy, but apple juice has even more carbs than soda and can lead to increased hunger and food intake later in the day. Opt for water with a squeeze of lemon (Vanessa also adds Himalayan sea salt to curb sugar cravings), unsweetened iced tea, or black coffee. Sorry, no sugar. That includes honey and agaves of any kind. But heavy cream and nut milks are allowed. “Almond milk cappuccinos with MCT oil are the best beverage in the Keto world,” notes Vanessa. Monkfruit is a Keto-approved sugar alternative that some restaurants may have on hand. The Thermomix USA recipe team used monkfruit in this free recipe for Keto Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fat Bombs.
Fruits Are Not Your Friends
Lurking among these seemingly innocent natural treats are significant amounts of carbs, so a side of fruit with that omelette is Keto’s greatest foe. While small amounts of berries, which are lower in sugar than other fruits, can safely be consumed in a low-carb regimen, always avoid bananas, mangos, apples, and pears, as well as dried fruits like raisins and dates. Go with a side of sausage or turkey bacon to keep your diet on track.
Load Up on Healthy Fats
Limiting yourself can sometimes lead to not feeling satisfied, so consider loading up on healthy fats to fill you up. Ask for extra butter for your vegetables or even melted cheese. Who doesn’t like cheese on broccoli? Full fat sour cream is another tasty addition you can smear on steak or slather on asparagus, as well as rich sauces like béarnaise or horseradish cream. Also try a plate of eggs benedict smothered in hollandaise sans biscuit or English muffin. And avocados, high in healthy fats, are always the perfect accompaniment on anything from salads to sandwiches.
Bring Your Own
Don’t be fooled by a restaurant’s “low-carb” or “fat-free” dressing for your salad. With more than 10 grams of carbs in most varieties, you’ll undo all the benefits of going with greens as your entree. Instead, reach for creamy, full-fat dressings, or better yet, celebrity chef and wellness expert Alyssa Esparza recommends bringing your own “to ensure you’re getting the lowest carb option and can control your portions.” This keto friendly lime-cilantro vinaigrette, developed by the Thermomix® recipe team, and available exclusively on the Cookidoo® recipe platform, is a delicious salad dressing you can keep in your purse. “And, of course,” Alyssa continued, “a splash of vinegar and olive oil is extremely low in carbs with the added benefit of improved heart health so feel free to apply liberally.”
Creativity is Key
Striking the right balance of protein and fats requires a little ingenuity. Craving spaghetti bolognese? Ask for the bolognese in a bowl like chili or atop steamed vegetables and sprinkled with fresh-shaved parmesan. Cheese is a lifesaver on the Keto diet, which is a big plus in the flavor department. Also consider ordering a variety of appetizers instead of a main course since they’re typically low-carb like steak tartare, Thai chicken lettuce wraps, and shrimp cocktail. Vanessa recommends adding interesting umami elements like olives, capers, lemon zest, kimchi spices, red pepper flakes and everything bagel seasoning, a few of which you can keep with you on the go! “Spices really satisfy your palate and when a dish has umami, you end up eating less and feeling satiated because it’s so pleasurable.”
It may seem challenging, but it’s possible to enjoy a tasty evening out if you follow these simple guidelines. And if you’re wondering whether you can toss back a few with friends, white wine and pure forms of alcohol like whiskey, rum, and gin give you plenty of low-carb cocktails to choose from, as long as you stick with mixers like seltzer, diet soda, or sugar-free tonic water. So, raise a glass and toast to your willpower. Your waistline will thank you.
For restaurant-quality Keto recipes you can make at home with Thermomix®, check out the new Keto Friendly: Summer Shape Up collection on Cookidoo®. Don’t have a membership? Sign up for a free 30-day trial now.