Carbs are everywhere, and no one knows that more than a keto dieter just trying to enjoy a basic meal in a restaurant with friends. We get that following keto can be a challenge even at the best of times, so we’ve compiled a quick cheat sheet to help you breeze through your first keto-friendly dinner date unscathed.
1. Do Your Menu Research
Before you even set foot in the restaurant, it’s a good idea to take a quick peek at the restaurant menu online. If you don’t see a lot of satisfying keto-friendly options, then consider having a snack before you head out the door. That way, you won’t be ravenous when the bread bowl makes its rounds.
2. Put It in a Bowl
Speaking of which, thanks to the internet, burrito bowls, poke bowls, Buddha bowls, you name it, are super trendy right now. While a classic chicken burrito with guac and veggies will set you back 63 grams of carbs, the same meal in a bowl delivers a modest 13 grams. Make it your own by asking for extra veggies and higher fat toppings, like cheese, avocado, and sour cream, and swapping out any grains for greens. We swear you won’t even miss the wrap.
3. Don’t Be Saucy
Chicken wings are everyone’s favorite fat-loaded bar food, but pay attention to how they’re being fried and sauced. A lot of wings are breaded before they’re cooked in vegetable oil, then tossed in a coating made of hot sauce, butter, and some kind of sugar. To keep it totally low carb, ask for chicken wings to be baked naked (without breading) and get straight-up hot sauce on the side for a kick.
4. Order a la Carte
While not always the most cost effective way to order, choosing an a la carte entrée means you can avoid the carb-laden potatoes or rice and order your favorite low-carb veg on the side instead.
5. Go Bunless
With a simple adjustment, a cheeseburger can be a keto dieter’s dream dinner, so we’re grateful they’re a staple on most American restaurant menus. Simply ask for your burger bun-free with extra lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles on top. Double up on mustard or mayo instead of ketchup or barbecue sauce.
6. Nix the Premade Dressing
Salad dressing can be a great way to add extra fats to your greens, but a lot of restaurant versions are sneaky sources of honey, maple syrup, or other sweeteners. Ask your server to omit the premade version and bring bottles of olive oil and vinegar to your table instead. That way you can avoid any stealthy sugars on your salad and add as much of the liquid gold as you’d like.
7. Double Up on the Veg
Regularity issues are one of the main complaints among keto dieters, so stay on top of things by doubling up on fiber-rich veg. If your dinner main comes with a starchy side, simply ask to swap it out for sautéed broccoli, asparagus, or leafy greens. Likewise, breakfast entreés are notorious for being accompanied by a mountain of potatoes and toast, so simply ask for sliced or grilled tomatoes or mushrooms instead.
8. Ask for an Avocado With Your Eggs
No, we’re not talking about the millennial classic of avocado smeared on bread, we’re suggesting you ask for a half avocado instead of bread for your favorite keto-friendly breakfast. Instead of an English muffin, ask that your eggs and hollandaise be served on buttery avocado to help maximize your fat intake for the day.
9. Cheese Please
No, you don’t have to sit there twiddling your thumbs and sipping calorie-free tea while your friends all dig into the communal crème brûlée. Most restaurants will offer a savory finale to conclude the meal, and cheese means good times for all. Cheese, in general, is pretty low in carbs, but for your lowest options reach for Gruyere, manchego, burrata, Swiss, or Brie. Just be sure to enjoy it without the crackers, bread, or jams that can quickly derail your strategy. A small smear of mustard or a pickle is a much better choice.
10. Order a Drink
Yes, we mean an alcoholic one. We know "diet and drink" isn’t usually a compatible set of words, but if you choose wisely, a little libation is fair game. While beer, wine, and most fancy cocktails are packed with carbs that quickly add up, pure spirits like whiskey, brandy, vodka, and tequila are free of carbs. Pair them up with soda water or on the rocks and get your friend to be the DD.