One of the most difficult aspects of following the keto lifestyle is eating out. The majority of restaurants certainly don’t cater to low carb diets. So what do you do? While I recommend fixing your own meals, there are times you just want to eat out. I’m going to share my recommendations for eating out while still sticking to your keto lifestyle.
Commit to the Keto Lifestyle
If you aren’t committed or feel like regular “cheats” are normal then you will struggle with eating out. Commit to the lifestyle and all of the health benefits. Recognize that your health and wellness is too important to throw it all away when you eat at your local restaurant.
You also need to remember that eating the wrong foods just once can take up to 48 hours to recover from and get back into fat burning mode. You must decide if that is worth it to you. If it is, then go for it. The key is that you know exactly what you are doing and have decided in advance.
Not all restaurants are created equal when it comes to eating healthy. While you could get away with a fast food burger without the bun in a pinch, I don’t recommend eating fast food. Even many restaurants aren’t the best options for healthy eating.
It is okay to be selective when choosing a restaurant to eat. In fact, you should be selective. Though it may not always be possible, you want to choose restaurants that are concerned with where their food comes from. Methods of cooking are also important.
Do Your Research
Go online and look at the menu ahead of time. Almost all restaurants offer some form of their menu online. This will allow you time to adequately look over the menu and make a wise decision. It will also aid in selecting a restaurant.
Evaluate the meal choices as well as the side options. Just because something sounds healthy, doesn’t always mean it is. Think about the sauces, how said dish is prepared, and the ingredients in the dish. You should always pay attention to the side options, not every restaurant provides good keto side dishes.
What to Avoid
Some of these may seem to be no-brainers, but they are worth listing. Even foods that you may think are okay, won’t be at a restaurant due to they way they cook them. So, here are some foods that you should avoid when eating out:
- Bread and buns
- Fries (even sweet potato fries as they are cooked in vegetable oil)
- Most salad dressings (they are loaded with sugars and vegetable oils)
- Anything fried (likely fried in vegetable oil)
- Some sauces (again, do your research)
I have to admit that I do still enjoy the occasional sweet potato fries and struggle to avoid tortilla chips at a good Mexican restaurant. However, in these cases I have made the choice ahead of time and understand the ramifications. I have also developed the metabolic flexibility to eat these foods with little effect on my body. A goal I want you to desire as well!
What are Good Options
When it comes to eating out, what to eat is as important as what to avoid. While I certainly can’t provide an exhaustive list here, I want to offer a few suggestions to help impact your decisions when you eat out next.
For the main dish, a basic meat dish is usually a safe choice. By this I mean opting for a hamburger sans bun, steak, salmon, chicken, or pork. Just be careful of dishes with sauces added to them.
Avoid the temptation to order the 16oz Ribeye at your favorite steak house. Remember, you don’t need that much protein! However, don’t be afraid to enjoy yourself either. When you are out celebrating an anniversary for instance, go ahead and splurge for the larger steak and enjoy it! You could always limit your protein the rest of the day in preparation for this celebration.
When in a pinch, meaning you haven’t had a chance to adequately vet the restaurant, a burger is almost always a great option. Simply order the burger without bun or sauces (ketchup and mayo). Most restaurants allow you to customize your burger by adding bacon, avocado, and even a fried egg. This makes a great option!
When selecting a side, this will require greater selectivity. I have found that nearly all restaurants offer a side salad and broccoli. Both are great side options. When ordering a side salad or salad for a main dish, dressing is important. Most dressings contain high amounts of sugar and use a vegetable oil for the base. Opt rather for oil and vinegar or even a blue cheese dressing.
Don’t be afraid to leave food on your plate, in fact, you probably should! Unlike at home, not everything on your plate is something you should eat. Don’t feel like you have to clean everything off your plate, leave what isn’t good.
For instance, at your favorite Mexican restaurant, leave the beans and rice. You might even try asking for extra guacamole in place of the beans and rice.
You can maintain your keto lifestyle while eating out. It requires commitment and a little forethought. I encourage you that it is well worth the effort!
What is your favorite keto meal when eating out?