Low Carb Cafe and Restaurant Dining Guide
Do you have work meetings in cafes or restaurants? Or find yourself eating out a fair bit through your week? Or just prefer someone else to do the cooking 😀 YAY!
I usually go for pub meals (switch the chips or mash for extra vegetables) or my 2 favourites: Greek or Lebanese restaurants. Lots of lean protein grilled over charcoal, with so many different salads to choose from – just don’t order the bread 😀
So, if you get to choose where you are going, certain cuisines are more low carb friendly than others. Let’s take a look at some general tips and tricks to maintaining a low carb or keto diet, as well as some healthier options at different cuisine restaurants!
Tips and Tricks for Low Carb Eating When Dining Out
- Where possible, check out the restaurant menu online, so you know what you want before you get there. This prevents any impulsive ordering and overeating!
- Take your time looking through the menu, and don’t be afraid to make changes to dishes (within reason of course)
- Order first. Get in first before you hear what everyone else is ordering. You are less likely to change your mind.
- Opt for 2 entree dishes and a side salad, like grilled halloumi, prawns, olives and so forth
- The ‘meat and vegetable’ based meals will always be the most carb friendly and at times the easiest to see what is in it. Ask for sauces and dressings on the side, say no to chips, mash or bread. YES to extra vegetables (steamed or roasted).
- When ordering salads, add protein if there is none and ask for dressings on the side. This way, you can control how much dressing you want.
- Avoid focaccias and sandwiches when trying to eat low carb. The bread is normally 3 times the size of what it should be, and you don’t get that much on the inside.
- Avoid pasta or risotto when aiming to eat low carb. You will be able to prevent that heavy feeling that normally follows after a heavy high carb meal. No more food comas!
- If it’s a boozy lunch or dinner, always start with a tall glass of sparkling or still water. That way, you increase your water for the day, and you sit on your first drink for longer and drink less. Save the calories and cost 😉
- If you’re heading out for breakfast or brunch, eggs should be the star of your dish, with the vegetable side options and no toast. Alternatively, you can go for an omelette and choose your favourite low carb fillings. My go-to order is a vegetarian breakfast, with no toast and add bacon 😀
Low Carb and Keto Restaurant Guide
- American: You can still enjoy a burger by going for a lettuce wrap option, aka bunless burger. It reduces your carb intake whilst enjoying the flavours of a thick meat patty and veggies. Not to mention, this is a cheaper keto friendly meal option. Avoid foods high in saturated fat like fried chicken, and opt for grilled chicken instead. American restaurants also tend to have great filling salads like cobb salad which has a mix of salad greens, chicken breast, bacon and egg.
- Chinese: Avoid sweet, starchy sauces and go for stir frys with light flavours like ginger, garlic or simple soy sauce. Anything steamed, whether veggies or seafood, is a great option and for protein, you can choose roast pork or roast duck (without the sweet plum sauce).
- Indian: Avoid rice, rotis and naan breads. Stick with kebabs or tandoori meat dishes and ask for sauce or curry on the side. Similarly, Paneer Tikka (marinated paneer) and Paneer Bhurji (tangy scrambled paneer) are two great options that are high in protein, low in carbs and delicious! Paneer is an Indian cheese, with a mild and milky flavour similar to cottage cheese.
- Italian: We know you immediately think of pasta and pizza...all things high in carbs at an Italian restaurant. Fear not, because there are definitely low carb options you can opt for! We recommend Caesar salad without the croutons, Caprese salad and antipasto platters which are full of cold meats, cheeses, olives. YUM.
- Japanese: Try and stay away from sushi train restaurants as you’re going to have to stay away from rice. Order sashimi instead of sushi or stir frys without rice and sweet sauces (say NO to teriyaki sauce). Having a small serving of miso soup will also help to fill you up a bit so you don’t overeat/overorder.
- Mexican: Skip the carby tortillas for more salsa, guacamole and sour cream with your burrito bowl or fajitas. Great protein choices for fajitas are chicken, beef or prawn. If you’re a seafood lover in particular, Mexican restaurants often serve ceviche which is a cold seafood “salad” with a citrusy punch!
- Middle Eastern: Look out for grilled vegetables and meats (including seafood) or side salads. Avoid high carb foods like gyros, rice, hummus and potatoes.
- Seafood: Seafood dishes are a great low carb and keto option, as long as you skip anything battered (opt for grilled) and chips. Don’t underestimate the deliciousness of grilled or baked seafood!
- Steakhouse: This is an easy choice! Steaks and sides like steamed or roast non-starchy veggies (e.g. broccoli, asparagus) are a great, low carb, and keto friendly combination. Just avoid the complementary bread rolls, potato (baked or fries) and other high carb items.
- Thai: Best to order stir frys that don’t include heavy sauces like ginger or garlic. Thai beef salads and satay skewers (without the thick peanut sauce) are another low carb option too.
- Vietnamese: You can still enjoy a delicious bowl of Pho by swapping out the noodles for extra beansprouts, veggies and meat. Bo Luc Lac (also known as Shaking Beef) is a high protein dish that can be served with salad instead of rice.
Dining out can be tricky when following a low carb diet, but it’s definitely not impossible. Planning ahead and following these tips will help you choose the best keto friendly option for you. Try to be mindful about your calorie intake, but at the end of the day, choose what you would like eating too. There’s no point forcing yourself to stick to eating food that you don’t enjoy!
You may find some other ideas in our Low Carb Food Court and Takeaway Foods blog, as well as easy low carb recipes on our website if you have time for some home cooking.
Jo x 🤓
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