When you’re on the keto diet, eating out can be a challenge. Many people take the attitude that a day when they are eating at a restaurant instantly becomes a cheat day. However, when you eat out often, that can sabotage your diet efforts. Cheat days knock you out of ketosis. For some people, it can take up to five additional days to get back into ketosis. If you eat out one day per week, then take two more days to get into ketosis, you’re only burning fat efficiently for four out of seven days. That can lead to a cycle where you start making excuses instead of taking charge of gaining a healthier life. A better idea is to plan your eating out so that you can remain on your keto diet plan. I’ve put together a list of tips to help you reach that goal.
1. Minimize Eating Out
While eating out is something that must happen occasionally, try to minimize the times that you do so. It can be hard to maintain your keto ratio when you eat out. It’s also tempting to try “just one bite” of someone’s sugary dessert or carb-loaded french fries. Try to plan your meals and celebrations in a way that you will be able to avoid temptations and stay on your keto plan. We tend to think that many of our celebrations should revolve around food; the keto diet doesn’t have to change that, but you will need to adapt how you use food to celebrate. That may mean that you do your celebrating at home, with meals that you prepare yourself. If you’re eating out because you feel rushed or have a lot of activities, try to implement meal prep to save time on busier days.
2. Try Sandwich Shops
I know, sandwich shops fly in the face of keto logic. All of that warm, freshly baked bread creates the perfect canvas for those sandwich artists to do their thing. It’s also the biggest temptation for many people embracing the keto lifestyle. However, most sandwich places including, Jimmy John's, Subway, and Which Which offer to make their sandwiches into a salad. You can usually order double meat options if you need to increase your protein intake for the day. Keep an eye on dressing or topping ingredients; salad dressings like Ranch often have hidden carbs. I usually ask for straight up olive oil. Keep in mind that the volume of food may be lower than you’re used to consuming without the caloric value of the bread. You may need to plan to pack a snack if you’re going this route.
3. Order Carefully at Fast Food Restaurants
Eating fast food is usually the last choice for anyone who is trying to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Sometimes it is a necessity, but you have to be aware of what you’re ordering and how the food is prepared. For example, Burger King offers a Keto option, but some restaurants may remove all of the condiments from your order. You need to specify that you want mayo and/or mustard, but no ketchup. Wendy’s and McDonald’s fry their patties on flat tops, so the fat count may not be entirely accurate. Chicken patties may be marinated in a sauce that includes sugar. Carl’s Junior/Hardee’s is a pretty good keto fast food option. They do a burger with all the condiments wrapped in lettuce. It’s still pretty messy to eat, so ask for a fork and knife; you’ll need it. Don’t forget to hold the ketchup! There’s almost four grams of sugar per tablespoon of ketchup!
4. Call ahead at Local Restaurants
It has been my experience that many locally owned restaurants do not have many keto options. Locally owned spots are less likely to have their menu online, so you need to ask precise questions regarding ingredients. When you call, make sure that you call at a time when they are not likely in a rush; between 10-11 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. are your best options. Ask about marinades, sauces, and food prep methods. Local restaurants that serve breakfast all day will have some good keto options, although you may need to order ala carte to avoid toast or pancakes being included with your order. I often bring my own homemade salad dressing in a small container in my purse. I always ask a lot of questions when I order to be sure I am not going to get any hidden carbs. My husband says jokingly, "You are such a treat to take out!" But hey, I'm paying for this and I want what I want! I have never had an issue at any restaurant and they are very happy to accommodate.
5. Stick with Chain Restaurants
Many chain restaurants have been very embracing of the keto diet. You have a variety of options available when you head to a chain restaurant. Places known for breakfast, such as IHOP and Village Inn, are perfect for ordering eggs, bacon, and a side salad. Avoid scrambled egg mixes in these places, as the binder in the scrambled egg mixture may contain carbs. Red Lobster, Red Robin, Bonefish Grill and Carrabba’s offer a variety of fish options, plus steamed vegetables or salads. Longhorn Steakhouse, Texas Roadhouse and Applebee’s have great steak options with veggie sides. Mexican restaurants with fajita plates are excellent choices as long as you skip the beans, rice, and tortillas. You may also be able to get some type of taco salad, but that may have beans or rice included, so be sure to ask. Add a side of guacamole to increase your fat intake for the day. Olive Garden is a tough one, but they do offer grilled or braised meats with vegetable sides.
6. Check out the Buffet
An all-you-can-eat buffet sounds like a bad idea for someone who is trying to eat a healthy diet. However, a buffet may have many alternatives that are keto friendly. Restaurants such as Golden Corral have grilled meat options and a huge salad bar. They may also have a baked potato bar where you can pick up real butter if you need to add some fat; try adding it to a freshly grilled steak!
Ordering keto at restaurants can be a bit tricky. However, by using sites like AllMenus, you can find the best options that will help you enjoy eating out while still maintaining your keto diet plan. If you find that you need to eat out often and you’re not getting enough fat to keep your macro ratio correct, try using MCT powder.
7. Out and About Running Errands?
When I am out doing errands and need some fuel, my favorite place to go is my local health food store. Not all health foods stores have a deli, (mine does, and they make keto snacks and treats) but most will have a "bar" section where you can get a Suzi’s Good Fat Bar or something else of that nature. You can also stay on the lookout for small bags of nuts, chunks of cheese, etc. Just yesterday I stopped in and grabbed a keto cheese and onion scone (oh my, so good) and a Suzie’s Good Fat Bar. Then I drove over to Starbucks and got an almond milk latte with 3 butters and some stevia. Then I went on my way getting my shopping done.
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You got this!
Leta ~ Intentionally Bare
DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only. The content in here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or heard here.