This is a struggle we’ve certainly all faced before… it’s Friday afternoon and your Facebook Messenger group from your friends starts going nuts with suggestions for where you should all go for dinner tonight…
“How about that new burger joint”, “what about Mexican”, “I’m feeling Italian” – it all sounds delicious but all you can think is “oh crap” how am I going to manage this.
Don’t worry! I’ve been in this situation MANY times before so thought you guys might find it helpful to have a bit of a guide to how to eat low carb at an Italian restaurant.
First, let’s start with what to avoid when you’re trying to eat low carb at an Italian Restaurant
❌Garlic Bread. #sorry
This is a no-brainer but it needs to be said.
As delicious at garlic bread is, it is far from low carb with one slice (approx. 60g) having around 42g of carbs. That’s more than I usually eat in a whole day!!
Unless a friend orders it specifically, you can sometimes avoid the situation of the waiter just bringing some out by asking for a couple of bowls of olives as soon as you’re seated. That way you can avoid the temptation.
It goes without saying normal pizza is not low carb containing anywhere from 100-300g carbs depending on the base, the size and toppings.
Another Italian restaurant staple. Delicious yes. Low carb no. Enough said.
And now what to go for at an Italian Restaurant
Entree’s to stay low carb at an Italian restaurant
Nature’s delicious little low carb snacks.
Olives are a great entree and have only 6g of carbs per 100g (which is a lot of olives). You can check out more low carb vegetables in the definitive list of low carb vegetables I wrote a couple of years ago.
✅ Antipasto Platters
This is one of my favourite foods in general, not even just Italian.
Who doesn’t love a delicious smorgasbord of meats, cheese, olives, sun-dried tomato’s, charred vegetables and more!
It’s hard to give an exact figure around carb content as they vary so much in what goes into them, but usually the food that goes onto antipasto platters is all very low carb. Just leave the bread sticks for someone else 😉
✅ Caprese Salad (or other salads)
Fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, juicy tomatoes covered in olive oil with lots of salt and pepper.
Who said low carb is missing out! This is a delicious and healthy low carb entree and would have around 7g of carbs for a 200g salad.
Mains to stay low carb at an Italian restaurant
When perusing the menu a quick guide is – if there are any mains that have either beef, veal, chicken or fish (uncrumbed) served with veggies, they’ll be a great low carb option. Below are some others to look out for.
✅ Grilled Portabello Mushrooms
Mushrooms are a delicious low carb vegetable, especially when they’re marinated with fresh herbs and garlic and then grilled.
I’m not big into vegetarian eating but this would definitely help me if I were to be.
Mushrooms (by themselves) have only 3g of carbs per 100g! That’s incredibly low. The best part is that the toppings you’ll find on grilled portabella mushrooms are often quite low carb. Just read the description and don’t hesitate to ask the waiter what they come with.
✅ Seafood Salad
Being mostly seafood (protein) and greens (fibre), a good Italian seafood salad is going to be quite low carb and super delicious! Prawns, octopus, muscles and crab meat – yum!
✅ Stracciatella Soup
Stracciatella is an Italian soup made with meat broth, spinach, parmesan cheese and small peices of cooked egg.
It sounds strange I’ll give you that, but it’s actually super tasty and because it’s mostly protein, fats and water, it’s very low carb.
An average (however you define that) bowl of Stracciatella Soup will have around 4g of carbs!
Think of this as Italian sushimi 😉
Basically very thinly sliced raw meat (usually beef, veal, tuna or salmon) served with olive oil, lemon juice and for the non-seafood versions, parmesan cheese. You’ll often find this in the entree section but many places do have mains versions too.
Being just meat, carpaccio is very high in protein and almost zero carbs!
✅ Insalata (aka Salads)
Now before you get all like “a salad? please.” there are usually some fantastic salad options there for you and if you’re not feeling super hungry then this could be the way to go.
Want to make Low Carb Pizza at home?
Then pickup a pack of our Low Carb Protein Pizza Base!
Perfect for entertaining, one packet of our Protein Pizza Base makes up 4 BIG 12″ Pizzas.
Each delicious thin and crispy base has just 6g of carbs and a whopping 50g of protein! It’s even gluten free too so all your friends can enjoy it.
What’s your favourite low carb options when you eat out at an Italian restaurant?
I’d love to hear from you and update this list with any great suggestions you guys have. Just comment below. Have any questions, let me know ? Cheers, Luke
- An avid barefoot trail runner, explorer, creator, and keen learner. I'm incredibly humbled by everyone who's helped The Protein Bread Co. to grow to where it is today – actively supporting our mission to help 5M Australians and 20M people globally to live fitter, healthier and happier lives. You can reach out to me via Twitter or Instagram @thelowcarbgiant, Facebook @lukehopkins, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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