How to Eat Out On A Low Carb Diet
Starting a new diet can be overwhelming. So don’t -create a lifestyle that makes it easy for you to look and feel your best. The great part about a low-carb diet is that you can hack just about any restaurant menu to suit your needs. Your night out might not involve a pizza and breadsticks, but we promise that with a little know-how, you can enjoy going out to a restaurant with family and friends without busting your macros for the day.
Make a Plan
The first key element of eating out while on a low-carb diet is to make a plan! Find out where you’re headed and then take a peek at their menu online ahead of time. Looking at a menu through the eyes of a dieter is sometimes a little daunting because you’ll likely need to alter or avoid some foods to get what you need out of the meal. But we’re here to tell you that it’s absolutely fine to ask for substitutions. Most restaurants are happy to help you get what you need. They want you to have a great experience, so don’t be afraid to ask. Furthermore, when you look ahead and plan your meal before you get to the restaurant, you’re less likely to feel sore or flustered when you have to skip out on the free bread. Go in with a plan, and you’re setting yourself up for success.
Watch Out for Added Sugars
We’ve written a great blog about sneaky carbs, but when eating out it’s important to remember that a major difference between home-cooked food and restaurant food is seasoning and additives. Carbs hide in all kinds of places from sauces, to salad dressings, and even the marinades used to tenderize and flavor your favorite proteins. If you opt for something like a salad, go for leafy mixed greens and choose olive oil and vinegar as a dressing. . Many popular restaurants offer up nutritional pages with full breakdowns of everything from ketchup packets to milkshakes. When you’re in your planning phase, make use of those and watch the hidden carbs!
Stick to Protein and Vegetables
Most restaurants have more in the way of low-carb-friendly food than you might think. When eating out while adhering to the MealMD lifestyle, you’ll want to seek out meat and low-carb veggies. This is a great opportunity to eat that steak, try that chicken, or revisit that piece of fish, this time without the mashed potatoes or bread. As we mentioned, most places are pretty accommodating. Just make sure your protein isn’t breaded or deep-fried. Sauteed spinach, green beans, and Brussel sprouts are wonderful low-carb substitutions. Even a sub sandwich can quickly be turned into a salad with some extra consideration. Oh, and if they ask if you want cheese on that—the answer is always yes.
Cuisine To Watch Out For
Carbs are everywhere, and some common cuisines can be tricky to navigate, especially if you don’t get a chance to look at the menu ahead of time. However, even some of the toughest customers like Chinese, Mexican, or Italian food are likely to have lower-carb options. Stick to meat and vegetables (fajitas without the wrap or stir-fry with sauteed vegetables), avoid questionable sauces, noodles, and breaded/fried options, and you’ll be just fine.
Popular Cuisines You Can Hack
Once you have the basics down, you’ll be able to quickly pick out the low-carb options off of just about any restaurant menu. These cuisines are fairly safe low-carb options to choose from.
We know. The breadsticks and endless salad are a huge temptation at restaurants like Olive Garden. But if you need to get your Italian fix, Olive Garden and many other restaurants can definitely accommodate you. Enjoy entrees like their grilled salmon and pick a colorful veggie to match, or go for a dish like the Grilled Chicken Margherita, which is grilled chicken breasts topped with pesto and cheese. Good fats. Good proteins. All that’s left is to belly up and chow down.
If you love red meat, then a steakhouse might be your low-carb heaven. With the majority of the fair coming off of the grill, you really only need to watch out for starchy appetizers and sides to make a meal fit for a king. Grilled shrimp, chicken, steaks, hearty salads, and grilled vegetables abound at restaurants like Outback Steakhouse, making a great night-out or a quick, easy lunch.
Chicken wings are one of our favorite low-carb items. As long as you avoid the breaded versions and mind the sauces (smoked wings are always a safe bet), chicken wings are a delicious and filling way to meet your protein and fat macros and feel like you’re treating yourself to junk food. Enjoy the celery and carrot sticks on the side and order a basket for the table.
Restaurants like Red Robin are known for their gourmet burgers and bottomless steak fries. While we recommend giving the fries a pass, most burger joints will make just about any of their delicious burgers as a lettuce wrap or even as a salad topper. Choose mustard and avoid ketchup since most are loaded with sugar. They even offer wings! And just in case you must have a side with your burger, many have low-carb options just for you!
Restaurants like Chipoltle are a great option when trying to live the MealMD lifestyle. Choose a salad or burrito bowl instead of the burrito or taco. Fill your bowl with lettuce, cheese, any of the vegetables you like, and of course a delicious protein of your choice. Top with salsa and guacamole for an extra serving of healthy fats.
Kick The Carbs With MealMD
This list is obviously not all-inclusive, but it’s a good starting point. Lowering your carb intake can be tricky at first, but when you join MealMD you get access to our registered dietitian, all of our educational resources, and a community that will cheer for you all the way to your goal! And for those nights that you want to stay in, MealMD provides nutritious, chef-prepared meals that are ready in minutes. Ready to lose weight? Sign up today!