Every diet has its day and keto is basking in its fifteen minutes of fame right now. This latest diet trend has been touted as a miracle weight loss tool and the solution to blood sugar regulation once and for all. The problem with any diet however is navigating the world of eating out. How do you experience all the joy that comes with not having to cook, while still staying under 50 g of net carbs a day? I mean, do keto restaurants even exist?
Fortunately for you, you can have your almond flour sugar-free cake and eat it too. Here’s how to order a keto meal from any menu—including our top 5 favorite keto meals from restaurants you already love.
Say goodbye to eating in and say hello to keto-friendly date night.
Breaking down keto
The ketogenic diet, affectionately referred to as keto, is a high fat, low carb, low protein diet designed to put your body into a state of ketosis, (where your body burns ketones (fat) for energy instead of glucose (sugar)). By eating lots of fat, you’re encouraging your body to burn fat for fuel.
There are a myriad of benefits that come with swapping your blueberry pancakes for an omelet in the morning, but here are a few:
- Manage blood sugar levels: You know how after you eat a cookie, you feel a sudden burst of energy? Only to be followed by hunger pangs, low mood, and sleepiness a couple hours later. That’s because of fluctuating blood sugar. While eating carbohydrates keeps your blood sugar on this crazy roller coaster all day long, fat keeps your blood sugar steadier. This translates to less hunger and more sustained energy throughout the day.
- Control seizures: The keto diet was used therapeutically for individuals with epilepsy long before it hit mainstream media. It’s quite effective at reducing the number and severity of seizures long term. It’s also a safe alternative for those who may not be responding well to typical anti-seizure medication.
- Increase energy levels: You may feel a bit lethargic when you first start keto as your body learns to adapt to burning fat for fuel. After a while however many people report having more energy than ever before.
- Improve mental clarity: Our brain is 60% fat, making fat by far the most important macronutrient for brain function. Many people report feeling clear headed and focused on the ketogenic diet.
- Lose weight: This may be the number one reason why people go keto in the first place. Weight loss occurs for a couple of reasons, at least one being the satiating nature of fat encourages less food consumption overall.
There’s a lot of good reasons why you might want to give the ketogenic diet a try. However, it’s not for everyone. Like any diet, check with your doctor before you begin to see if it’s right for you.
Keto Restaurant Tips
Following any restrictive diet like keto makes social situations challenging. Just the thought of eating out when you’re on a diet is enough to induce anxiety.
But, it doesn’t have to.
We’re here to show you how to make any restaurant meal keto friendly, all without having to call ahead and talk to a manager or visit a special keto restaurant your family will hate.
Hold the croutons please
The number one rule on keto is to avoid carbohydrates. This includes pasta, pizza, rice, pancakes, sandwich bread, burger buns, and basically anything else that screams carbs.
That’s the easy part.
The hard part is staying away from the hidden sources of carbohydrates. Spoiler alert, there can be a lot of hidden sources of carbohydrates:
- Beer, wine, and cocktails
- Barbeque sauce
- Low-fat salad dressings
Hold the alcohol, condiments, and avoid anything fried to be sure you’re staying well within your carbohydrate limit for the day. It’s probably best to skip dessert too.
Can I have some greens with that
Stay away from that side of fries and opt instead for steamed veggies or a salad with olive oil and vinegar. While not all vegetables are keto, many are, and they’re a great way to fill you up without adding a ton of calories to your meal.
Eat all you can:
- Green leafy vegetables (kale, swiss chard, spinach)
Salads are usually a safe bet when you’re eating out. Add chicken, avocado, and lots of olive oil to a garden salad to turn a side dish into a keto approved dinner for one.
All about animals (and tofu)
There is a time and a place for plant-based proteins. Keto is not always the time or place. Plant-based proteins like lentils, chickpeas, and black beans are high in carbohydrates and will knock you right out of ketosis.
Avoid chili, refried beans, seitan (wheat gluten), and bean-based veggie burgers if they’re on the menu. Instead, choose animal-based proteins which are often higher in fat and lower in carbohydrates. Salmon, beef, chicken, and eggs are all great choices.
If you are avoiding animal protein, no worries, tofu is low carb, keto friendly, and perfect for our vegan keto friends.
Plant fats for the win
While most plant proteins don’t fit into a keto diet, plant fats are your new best (keto) friend. Plant-based fats are fantastically keto and extraordinarily good for you. Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of plant-based fats to add to your meal:
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds are all plant-based and keto friendly. You can find them on the menu in salads, coating salmon, or as a substitute for bread or grains.
- Avocado: Avocado is a keto dream come true. Low in carbs and rich in healthy fats, avocado is a great choice for anyone looking to increase their fat intake. The best part is, most restaurants have some sort of avocado dish on their menu. Swap out your sugar-loaded salad dressing with avocado or trade ketchup on your bun-less burger for guacamole to cut unnecessary carbs from your meal.
- Extra virgin olive oil: The best way to avoid hidden carbs in salad dressings is to stick with olive oil and vinegar. Almost all restaurants have it and it’s an easy sugar-free salad dressing.
- Coconut: This could be coconut milk, coconut flakes, coconut oil, coconut flour, and any other form of coconut you can think of. Coconut is very high in fat and quite common in Asian cuisine. Try a Thai coconut curry with tofu, spinach, and broccoli for a delightful keto meal.
Sub those croutons for almonds and ketchup for avocado to up the fat content of your meal and keep your body in ketosis.
Let’s do brunch
If you’re feeling stuck on ordering a keto dinner, try brunch instead. While you may be hard-pressed to find a keto restaurant for dinner, it’s a bit easier for breakfast. Breakfast is delightfully keto friendly, full of naturally high fat foods like cheese, eggs, bacon, and butter. Go ahead and order a 3-egg omelet with cheddar cheese and extra bacon. You won’t feel like you’re on a diet at all.
Keto meals from your favorite non keto restaurants
Using the tips above, you can rest assured that you’ll be able to go out with your friends without sacrificing your diet, no trip to a keto restaurant required.
Sometimes however, you just want to order a meal without having to think about it. That’s why we went ahead and scoped out a few of your favorite restaurants to find the best keto meals on their menu. We did the work, so you don’t have to.
This roadhouse has more than just wings and ribs. Head on over to Kelsey’s and try their Lemon Pepper Salmon with basil pesto aioli. Skip the side and double your steamed veggies for a fat and nutrient packed keto meal.
If you find yourself at the Bier Markt without a beer in hand, you may be doing keto. Lucky for you, their Roasted Cauliflower main dish is low carb and still delightful. Sub your quinoa pilaf for roasted tomatoes for an exceptional meal, perfect for meat eaters and plant eaters alike.
Can’t decide between steak or a salad? Montana’s has you covered. The Canadian restaurant has a 7oz Sirloin Southwest Steak Salad with peppers, cheddar cheese, and guacamole. Just be sure to ask to for the salad without corn, black beans, and tortilla strips to keep the net carbs under control.
Everybody loves a good burger, and Original Joes has some of the best. The A.C.E. Cheeseburger features two beef patties, cheese, lettuce tomato, and onion. Wrap the burger in lettuce or try it naked on a bed of greens for a satiating fat-packed keto delight.
Duke’s Refresher + Bar
Duke’s is all about fun, and their menu surely reflects that. The Bitchin’ Greens salad with avocado and no crispy taro is perfect for when you’re keeping things keto. It’s a salad that tastes just as colorful as its name.
Eating out keto doesn’t have to be hard
Use this guide to ease your restaurant anxiety and make eating out enjoyable again. You don’t even need to go to a keto restaurant to stick to your diet.
Before you head out though, be sure to download the Moola app. You can buy yourself a gift card to one of the restaurants above and save even more money on your next eating out experience!
Do you have a favorite keto meal from a non keto restaurant? Comment below and let us know!