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Eating Out on a Ketogenic Diet

Sometimes, you may choose to deviate from a ketogenic lifestyle while dining out (if you follow a ketogenic diet for medical reasons, this is strongly discouraged). However, it’s certainly not necessary. There are plenty of options that allow you to enjoy a keto-style meal while eating out. Whether you’re dining at a restaurant, a hotel, or a buffet, you can always put together a keto meal. It’s true that some restaurants offer more keto-friendly options than others, but there are always possibilities. In this article, I’ll share tips to make it easier and stress-free to dine out while staying in ketosis.

Be well-prepared

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Often, you already know where you want to dine out in advance. Take a look at the menu (online) to see if there are any options that are already low in carbohydrates (such as carpaccio), or which dishes can be easily adapted to a low-carb version. Based on the available options, you can make your choices in advance, making it easier to request any necessary modifications. If you find this difficult and are unsure based on the menu, feel free to post in our Facebook group; our moderators and other members will be happy to assist you.

Simple modifications like requesting no pre-made dressing and instead having some olive oil with salt and pepper can be mentioned with your order and don’t need to be requested in advance. However, sometimes it’s nice to contact the restaurant ahead of time so you can bring a few items with you. For example, I often ask if I can bring some keto bread to eat at the table, so I can join in with the bread platter.

Things to Watch Out For

Creamy sauces: Many restaurants prepare sauces with flour or use ready-made sauce packets. In upscale restaurants, sauces are usually made fresh with cream (often unfortunately with the addition of flour). So, ask the waitstaff (or contact them in advance via email) about how the sauces are prepared and what exactly goes into them.
Sweet and sour sauces: These sauces almost always contain sugar or honey. Ask for alternative (sugar-free) sauce options if you want a dish that usually comes with this sauce.

Dressings: Always ask if the salad dressing is completely sugar-free. Many dressings contain sugar or honey. If they don’t have sugar-free dressing, or if they’re not sure, ask for a bit of olive oil (perhaps a little vinegar), salt, and pepper; this is a safe choice.

Fries/rice/wraps: Most main courses are served with fries, rice, or wraps by default. Instead, ask for extra vegetables. This could be in the form of a salad, but nearly all restaurants have a variety of other vegetables they can stir-fry, grill, or cook. Ask about the options; they’re often willing to accommodate.

Desserts: The desserts on the menu are usually sugar bombs and not suitable for keto. Many restaurants also offer a cheese platter as a dessert, which is perfect (just skip the often accompanying fig bread and jam/compote/chutney, or ask for them to be omitted). If there are cheeses you don’t like, indicate which ones you do enjoy and request them as replacements, possibly with some cucumber slices and olives on the side. Many restaurants are also fine with you bringing your own piece of MCT chocolate for coffee. You can see my favorite keto chocolates here.

Convenient for the Chefs and Delicious for You

Often, you’ll find plenty of delicious options on the menu already. However, sometimes making adjustments to make dishes low-carb can make them a bit bland. It’s a shame because when dining out, you want to enjoy great food and something different from what you prepare at home (let’s be honest, the prices at restaurants reflect that too). Chefs at restaurants are eager to delight their guests, so they are usually more than willing to prepare something tasty and special for you as well. If you know in advance where you’ll be dining, it’s a good idea to contact the restaurant ahead of time. This way, the chefs can prepare for your low-carb requests. Most restaurants have an email address listed on their website that you can use. Below is an example of what you could send; feel free to copy and paste this into your email to the restaurant. 😉

Example Email

Good day,
On (date), I will be dining at your establishment with a group. I have a dietary requirement that unfortunately rules out many dishes from your menu. I follow a ketogenic diet (meaning I consume a lot of healthy fats and very few carbohydrates) due to my body’s intolerance to carbohydrate-rich foods. This means:

– No products with added sugar
– No potatoes
– No rice and pasta
– No bread
– No products like breadcrumbs, cornstarch, or flour
– No wraps, tortillas, or nacho chips
– No vegetables that are very high in carbohydrates (see table in the attached link)
– No fruit (except as listed in the table in the attached link)
Is it possible for you to accommodate this and prepare an alternative dish? In this overview, it’s clearly indicated which products are suitable for me. Can you work with that?

NOTE: In the email, mention any foods you don’t like as well. It would be a shame if they make an effort to create a dish that includes something you really dislike. 😉 Alternatively, indicate what you really enjoy so they can incorporate that into the dish.


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Most hotels offer a breakfast buffet. There are usually many items or dishes that are not suitable for a keto diet (such as bread rolls, cereals, fruit juices, etc.), but there are always some keto-friendly options available. If you’re staying for just 1 or 2 days, you can bring your own keto-friendly bread or crackers and use the buffet’s spreads. In this cookbook, you can find many delicious recipes for keto-friendly bread alternatives. If you don’t have your own bread or crackers, you can still put together a satisfying meal. Consider options like:

– A small amount of plain yogurt or quark (possibly with a handful of nuts that you can bring with you). If there’s fresh red fruit available, you can add that to your yogurt. Make sure it’s not fruit in syrup but fresh fruit.
– Breadless toppings such as slices of cheese, deli meats, boiled and/or fried eggs (note: always ask if scrambled eggs are made with fresh eggs, as they are often prepared using powdered mixes that contain a lot of carbs).
– Raw vegetables
– Clear soups (if they contain vermicelli, you should avoid that part)
– Butter, which is a great way to increase your fat intake for a more satisfying meal. You can add it to a fried egg or mix it into a cup of black coffee to create something like bulletproof coffee.

At a Chinese or stir-fry restaurant

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Most Chinese dishes are served with rice, noodles, or crackers, which are not suitable for a low-carb diet. Additionally, many of the sauces used in Chinese cuisine contain significant amounts of sugar. The dishes that are typically on the menu are usually not suitable for a low-carb diet. However, you can request modifications to make your meal at a Chinese restaurant more keto-friendly. Here are some tips:

1. Ask if meat and vegetable dishes can be served without sauce for you.
Request extra vegetables instead of rice, noodles, or crackers.
2. If a dish cannot be ordered without sauce, scrape off as much sauce as possible yourself. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than the alternative.
3. You can also consider ordering a large spring roll and eating only the filling (the outer wrapper is made from dough and is not keto-friendly).
4. Steamed dishes without sauce can also be a good option. It’s preferable to ask if you can have a bit of olive oil for added fats.

Please note that most stir-fry sauces used in Chinese restaurants contain a lot of sugar. You can inquire if you can have soy sauce as a replacement for a stir-fry sauce.

At a sushi restaurant

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Actual sushi is unfortunately not suitable at a restaurant due to the rice (however, you can find a delicious keto recipe for sushi in “De ultieme ketogeen wereldgerechten special”). Fortunately, there are many other dishes available at a sushi restaurant that are delicious and keto-friendly. Consider side dishes like sautéed mushrooms, zucchini, seaweed, stir-fried dishes (please inquire if they can be prepared without sugary sauces), spring rolls (eat only the filling), fried fish, avocado, clear soups, green salads, and omelets.

At an Italian restaurant

Italian restaurants are often associated with pasta, risotto, and pizza. While these dishes are not keto-friendly, Italian restaurants typically offer a wide range of other delicious options. Some keto-friendly options at Italian restaurants include:

– Garlic mushrooms (Funghi Trifolati)
– Olives, sausages, ham, cheese, vegetables (Antipasto)
– Carpaccio
– Oven-baked snails in garlic butter
– Eggplant, tomato, and mozzarella baked in the oven (Melanzane Parmigiana)
– Eggplant stuffed with Parmesan cheese baked in the oven (Melanzana Ripiena)
– Soups (inquire if they are made without sugar and flour/cornstarch)
– Parma ham with mozzarella (Prosciutto e Mozzarella)
– Thinly sliced meat with tuna mayonnaise and capers (Vitello tonato)
– Garlic shrimp (Gamba’s Aglio)
– Fried mussels with garlic
– Meatballs in tomato sauce (inquire if the meatballs are made without bread/crumbs and the tomato sauce without sugar)
– Smoked salmon
– Meat, chicken, and fish dishes cooked or baked (inquire if they are prepared without a dough coating, sugary sauces, and high-carb thickeners), and ask for extra vegetables
– Mixed grill (without fries and sugary sauces), and ask for extra vegetables

At a Greek restaurant

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At a Greek restaurant, you’ll find many options on the menu that are suitable for a ketogenic meal. When ordering main dishes, ask if they can be served without fries/bread/rice/potatoes and if you can get extra vegetables instead. Alternatively, you can create a main meal from a variety of appetizers and side dishes. Here’s a selection of common dishes at a Greek restaurant that are suitable for a keto diet:

– Yogurt with cucumber (Tzatziki)
– Feta dip (Tirokafeteri)
– Baked feta cheese (Feta fourno)
– Marinated small fish (Marides, inquire if the marinade is sugar-free)
– Various salads (inquire if the dressing is sugar-free, replace with olive oil/pepper/salt if needed)
– Kebab
– Gyros (meat pieces) with tzatziki
– Mix-grill (various types of meat)
– Meat/chicken/fish stuffed or baked with feta
– Meat, chicken, or fish dishes from the grill or oven
Stir-fried meat/sausage (Bekri Metze)
– Meat/chicken skewers from the grill (Souvlaki) with tzatziki
– Vegetable dishes with cheese
– Eggplant with tomato and onion baked in the oven (Imam bayildi)
– Smoked salmon with cheese filling

Note: Garlic sauce is often prepared with sugar, so inquire in advance if this is the case with their sauce.

At a Mexican restaurant

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You can also enjoy a low-carb meal at a Mexican restaurant, but you may need to request more modifications or make these adjustments on your plate.

Suitable options include:
– Fish “cooked” in acid (Ceviche)
– Jalapeño peppers with cream cheese (Grilled Jalapeños relleno)
– Roasted tomato with capers from Sacla and chorizo sausage (Chorizo and padrones, without the bread)
– Shrimp in garlic butter (Gamba’s al ajillo)
– Mashed avocado (Guacamole)
– Sour cream
– Fresh salsa, including tomato/onion/cilantro (Pico de Galo)
– Spicy tomato sauce (Salsa Roja, inquire if it’s prepared without sugar)
– Spicy green herb sauce (Salsa Verde, inquire if it’s prepared without sugar)
– Jalapeño peppers

Request these dishes without tortillas/wraps/nachos/dough, so only the filling/topping. Or remove these items on your plate yourself. If desired, ask for extra salad, additional filling, or other vegetables on the side.

– Enchiladas
– Burritos
– Fajitas
– Tostadas
– Chalupas
– Hamburgers
– Quesadillas


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