Low Carb Menu Options
At Chain & Fast Food Restaurants
If you’ve been on a low-carb diet for some time now, or are considering starting one, you are on the right path to improving your health in many ways! Limiting carbs can help promote weight loss, control blood sugar, and can help you think about the quality of food you are putting in your body.
In general, this means you are consuming between 20 and 100 grams of carbs a day, primarily from vegetables, some fruits, and a limited amount of whole grains.
The key to being successful in a low-carb diet is consistency, no matter where you find yourself.
The only downside to a low carb diet is that eating out can be a drag. Even though you’re loving the results you’re seeing on the scale, in the mirror, and in your overall health, it can be discouraging to feel like you need to sacrifice going out to restaurants in order to keep seeing results.
The truth is, going out to eat is a huge part of our social lives and giving that up for the sake of our diet is not a long term solution to living a happy, healthy life.
However, when most menu items are breaded, come with starchy sides or come in sub or sandwich form, you can dread the thought of meeting up to eat out, no matter where you go.
You’re usually prepared to make one of two choices – either you will end off picking apart most things on your plate, or you’ll decide to forget about your low-carb diet today. Neither of them has you feeling too good about it afterward. So how do you get the best of both worlds?
Most restaurants, even fast food restaurants, have low-carb options on their menu. The key to eating out while low carb is simply knowing exactly what your options are at any kind of restaurant!
Luckily for you, that’s where DietMenus comes in. Our mission is to make it easier for you to find low carb meals at your favorite restaurants.
We do this by analyzing the menus of the most popular restaurants and removing all of the menu items that aren’t low carb, leaving only the things you can actually eat.
With our low carb restaurant menus, you no longer have to depend on clueless waiters or spend twenty minutes studying the menu to figure out what you can and can’t eat.
All you need to do is check our website before or while at the restaurant to see what options fit your low-carb lifestyle.
Below you will find a general guide to eating low carb at different types of restaurant, sorted by cuisine. These are general tips on what kinds of dishes are safe to order, things to avoid and easy substitutions you can make. To see the low carb menu for any specific restaurant just click on its logo.
A variety of salad options, clear soups, and entrees with vegetable sides make for a delicious low-carb meal.
American cuisine is known for being extremely high in refined carbs. It often includes a menu of burgers, pizza, breaded and fried things, and European-American fusion cuisine.
The menu sections that are most friendly with a low-carb diet are the soup and salad sections and the entrée sections. For the salads, choose salads with leafy greens, cheeses, nuts and seeds, non-starchy veggies, and protein. Stay away from salads with creamy dressings, croutons, and starchy veggies like potatoes and corn. Instead, choose olive oil and vinegar dressing, or ask for lemon wedge to squeeze on your salad.
In the entrée section, restaurants usually have you choose a main protein or other veggie equivalent, and then have you choose one or two side dishes. Choose any meat dish that isn’t battered and fried. As for the sides, you can choose any of the sautéed, steamed or baked veggie options, or the clear soups. Thick and creamy soups usually use a starchy thickener.
Look beyond rice and noodles and there are endless combinations of vegetable and meat stir-fry to try!
Asian food isn´t just noodles and rice. There are actually several less well-known options that are low in carbs and delicious. Choose sautéed or stir-fried meat and veggie dishes and clear soups.
Some ideas are egg drop soup, steamed fish or tofu with vegetables, and meat and vegetable combinations with savory sauces. The sauces usually have less than 5 carbs a serving, and they include options like Szechuan prawns, curry chicken, MuShu pork (no wrappers) and chicken and crunchy vegetables.
Another great alternative for low-carb Asian cuisine is Mongolian BBQ. It allows you to choose your own ingredients and sauces that the chef will stir-fry together for you.
Think outside the bun! Many places offer delicious bunless burgers, and you can switch out the fries for salad, veggies or other sides.
Burger joints usually aren’t seen as low-carb friendly options. Just thinking about a typical plate of food at a burger joint will leave you with nothing but a meat patty on your plate, after you remove the buns and fries.
However, there are several alternatives at many burger places. The first option is to see if they offer bunless burgers. If you haven’t tried these before, you are missing out. You keep the delicious taste of meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and toppings, and cut out the unnecessary bread buns. Some places may even offer low-carb burger buns (remember, whole grain does not mean low-carb).
As for the side, you can choose a side salad or steamed veggies instead of the fries, or, depending on how you are with your carb count for the day, you may be able to choose a small serving of sweet potato fries instead.
The trick is being able to identify your options quickly – identify options without buns or crust, including chili, salads, and bowls.
There are variety of fast food cuisines – from those that offer sandwiches to burgers and pizza. Fast food tends to be the epitome of food that leads to weight gain, and in most cases, the majority of options are not low-carb friendly. However, there are some general guidelines you can follow at any fast food place.
First, skim the menu board to check to see if they have bunless and breadless menu options. Some good options include chili, salads (no croutons, and light oil-based dressing), and bowls. Contrary to popular belief, wraps are not lower in carbs than bread. In some cases, they may even be higher in carbs. Choose bunless and wrap-less options instead.
Alternative and more flexible fast-food choices include those that allow you to pick your own ingredients. Think of restaurant options that offer bowls, and you can choose between tons of veggies and meats to go in it – no picking apart required.
As for drinks, stay away from sodas and shakes (or limit intake of diet sodas). Your healthiest drink options are either iced tea without sugar or water.
If you know what sort of fast food restaurant you are going to, you can read more specific recommendations by clicking on its logo.
Eliminate the pasta and enjoy savory Mediterranean dishes packed with healthy fats and lean protein instead.
Italian food is much more than pizza and pasta. Authentic and Americanized Italian restaurants usually have at least a dozen, delicious options that aren’t carb based. In the appetizers, you can enjoy a delicious carpaccio or shrimp dish, while in the entrees you can choose from a variety of seasoned fish and chicken options.
Don’t overlook the olive oil on your table! Not only will it perk up the flavors in your meal, it also provides tons of healthy fats that will help keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Mexican spices are really what make the cuisine, not the rice or tortillas. Enjoy grilled meats and veggies, and delicious spicy sauces – no carbs required.
Some of the most popular Mexican dishes include ingredients on the no-no list for low-carb dieters. These include rice and beans, and corn tortillas.
But, just like most cuisines, a new world of food opens up when you think outside of the box. The salsas are vegetable based, as is the guacamole. You can ask for cucumber or carrot sticks instead of chips to dip and enjoy as you wait for your food to come out.
Mexico boasts delicious grilled meats and seafood and, besides the tortillas, contain little to no flour or starch. Fajitas are also a delicious option, and you can easily enjoy them without the accompanying flour tortillas.
Pizza can be tricky, but look for cauliflower crust options, chicken wings, or choose a generously-sized salad.
Pizza is one of the trickiest cuisines to enjoy when on a low-carb diet. Since about 70% of the pizza is bread, taking it away means you are left with sauce, cheese, and toppings. Even then, only fresh pizza sauce is truly low-carb, so you’ll have to ask.
So, what are your options? Well, it depends on the restaurant, but you’ll usually have at least a few options. Some gourmet and sit-down pizza restaurants will offer cauliflower crust pizza. If this is the case, you’re set! You’ll be able to choose most options on the menu, but always making sure to keep an eye out for portion size.
Most pizza places also offer chef, Greek, or garden salads if they don’t offer cauliflower crusts. Portions are usually pretty generous, so you won’t have a problem filling up. Remember to choose oil-based dressings rather than creamy dressings, since creamy dressings usually have significant amounts of hidden sugar and starch.
Lastly, many pizza places also offer sides of chicken wings. Choose naked, parmesan or seasoned chicken wings, rather than those with heavy sauces.
If you skip the bread, only goodness is left over! Ask for your sandwich in a bowl or choose from a variety of soup and salad options for a low-carb deli meal.
What do you have when you eliminate the bread from a sandwich? Tons of delicious and healthy proteins and veggies! Most nutrients are found between the bread, so this is what really matters. Some sandwich places will offer their ingredients in a bowl, or they may offer lettuce buns. If this is the case, look for options that are packed with fresh meats, rather than deli meats (which are usually processed). If they only offer deli meats, that is generally okay, too, but make sure to eat them sparsely.
Many sandwich places also offer soup and salad combinations. Choose thin and clear soups that generally don’t use starch thickeners and oil-based salad dressings for your salad. If in doubt, you can always ask for a lemon or lime slice to dress your salad instead.
Pick between almost all the seafood entrées, and choose between low-carb sides like salads, vegetable medleys, and soups
There is generally not a problem finding yummy low-carb seafood options. Any seafood entrée that isn’t battered and deep-fried can be your main dish. Some cooking options include grilled, steamed, baked, and stir-fried, and you can choose from a variety of prawns, fish, lobster, crab, mussels, and clams. Skip the rice and potatoes for side-dishes and choose tasty veggies instead.
Seafood restaurants are generally great options because fish provides tons of healthy fats that will keep you feeling full, and, if you choose wisely, there is no need to remove any ingredients from your dish.
Choose a meat-based entrée and choose your non-starchy veggie sides! Eating low-carb at steakhouses could be as easy as that.
Like seafood, steakhouses tend to offer a large variety of low-carb options. Almost all the main entrees are centered on the meat, which is low-carb friendly. Your choice of meat will depend on any other dietary restrictions you have (for example, choosing lean meats over beef). That decision, however, is between you and your registered dietician.
Since the main entrees allow you to mix and match sides, you can choose steam veggies, salads, and soups for sides instead of the potatoes, rice, and mac-n-cheese.
It goes without saying that you should stay away from wheat-based pastas and seafood pilafs. If you are craving something sweet at the end, and you still have some carbs on your daily carb allowance, you can choose a fruit bowl or a signature low-sugar treat.