Taking keto on the Road can be a challenge! We’re got some easy tips to help keep you in ketosis, when your life has you on the go.
Eating out can be a challenge for the keto WOE, even if you order grilled meats, they can still be covered in a sweet sauce. There are many restaurants popping up that cater to the Keto culture, but for the most part its up to you to get your dietary needs addressed. The single biggest piece of advice I can give you is to ALWAYS ask questions and never assume. Even for basic items like eggs. Did you know that many restaurants supplement their scrambled eggs? For example, Cora’s adds pancake batter to theirs to make them fluffy. Tim Hortons adds so many items to their scrambled egg patties that we won’t try to list them, but instead will tell you to just stay away. A good point to keep in mind is; Only YOU can be held responsible for your state of ketosis and your health. Practice due diligence on every single solitary thing that goes in your mouth, from medicines, vitamins, gum, etc. Check it ALL!!
Staying in Ketosis while away from home is doable! We recently spend two weeks away from home on a working holiday. Every meal was out of our control and in the trust of kind servers, kitchen staff and chefs and we did it! Se stayed in Ketosis the whole time we were away. If you lay the proper groundwork, you can get through a meal, or even an extended holiday and stay in ketosis. Here are some tips that can help you stay on track.
- Planning in advance is key to a successful journey. If traveling by plane, have your agent contact the airline in advance to explain your dietary needs. They may not have an official keto meal, but knowing about your keto WOE in advance, may bring you closer to getting keto approved foods for you to eat. TIP- Don’t order the diabetic meal on a plane! Its 99% carbs!!
- We purchased a couple of freezer packs and a small cooler bag that folds up for easy storage. Whether you’re traveling by car, air or rail, nuts, dried meats (bacon), boiled eggs, prepared veggies, pork rinds, seaweed chips, and dark chocolate on ice will all help keep the hangry’s away.
- When bringing snacks and keto approved food with you is not an option, pre-scheduling an period of intermittent fasting can help you get through in a pinch. By getting yourself in the ‘I’m choosing not to eat’ state of mind, it can give you an easy mental out instead of stressing over what you can eat.
- When traveling by car, be strategic with your stops. Most gas stations will not have a great food selection for Ketonians, so avoid any temptations and steer clear of the snack aisles.
While at your Hotel
- If possible request a mini bar or even a kitchenette at your hotel to make your stay easier. Its easy to keep a stash of keto approved foods and snacks if you have a food safe refrigerator option.
- Don’t underestimate the power of rest while traveling. Don’t let jet lag or a long day driving in the car throw you off your keto plan. Be smart and rest up!
- Take time to find the local deli’s and convenience stores in your area, stocking up on precooked bacon, Rotisserie chicken, olives, cans of tuna ham or chicken can easily get you through your day.
- Ask hotel staff for recommendations. They’re the experts on their area and may have insight to help you find things to make your stay successful.
- Purchase some keto approved whipping cream to keep in the hotel mini fridge. A small container from home can be washed daily and take it out traveling with you daily. This can help to provide you with the creamy fix for your coffee.
- Locate food markets and truck stops – these folks are usually well oiled and compact restaurants. They are passionate about their food and know their menu inside and out.
- Stock up on a great hotel breakfast of bacon, sausage and eggs. Ensuring you have a full belly before you head out for your day can keep you from making bad spur of the moment decisions.
While eating out at Restaurants
Ask questions!! Remember if it came from a can, its going to have uglies in it! Hubby got caught on this one with a ‘lovely’ bowl of red pepper soup. If its not made in the restaurant and they don’t know the ingredients, chances are its from a can. Avoid!! Trust me, you don’t want the upset belly that hubby had, while you are on holidays!
- Start your homework before you even go through the door. Most restaurants have menus on-line, so make use of that information. Check out prospective places to eat before you go, if you can’t find anything on their menu, maybe you should check out another restaurant option.
- Explain your dietary needs to your server as soon as possible, this will allow them time to confer with their kitchen team. They might rise to the occasion and add a keto friendly item to their standard menu. Always be kind, patient and respectful while getting your needs across. These are mostly honest and hard-working folks, sometimes students who deserve kindness, and they can either make or break your meal out.
- Choose grilled meat and vegetables whenever possible. Make sure to ask if the meat was marinated or brined in sugar or honey. If this is the case you can request one that hasn’t been pre-soaked.
- Green salads are usually a safe option but always ask about dressing or sauce ingredients. Most restaurants will help you with a basic/oil vinaigrette in place of sugary commercial dressings. Always request sauces and condiments on the side.
- Eggs are always a great option. Many restaurants offer a 24-hour breakfast, so why not go for breakfast for dinner. Omelets, western sandwich (skip the bread of course) are also great options but ask to make sure they don’t put additives like pancake batter in their eggs.
- A big plate of bacon with a side salad is always an option.
- Most restaurants will accommodate you with naked burgers or burgers in a lettuce wrap.
- Practice portion control and always skip the bread.
- You don’t need to bail on dessert, ask for a small bowl Berries and cream for a quick sweet treat or finish with a cheese plate.
Keto at various cuisines
Sushi -Sashimi primarily consists of fresh and raw seafood and is often a safe choice
Vietnamese – Choose Pho (beef noodle soup) without noodles.
Mexican – Fajitas without the tortillas are a great choice. Just use your fork and knife or ask for lettuce cups. Ask for salsa, onion, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and sour cream on the side. Possibles – Chili Verde, burrito bowl (without the burrito), Shrimp cocktail or Ceviche. Avocado!!
Italian – Steak, chicken, pork or fish are great options here. Ask about the meatball and marinara ingredients, if they’re clean they can be a good indulgent meal. Many restaurants are doing spiralized veggies and crust-less pizzas now using a cheese base, so it never hurts to ask. Choose dark leafy greens, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and crushed garlic. Alfredo can be a good option here. Caesar salad with no croutons
Pub or sports grill – naked wings, Steaks, Grilled chicken, pork chops (with no breading), Grilled salmon or Burger without the bun. Caesar salad with no croutons.
Burger and BBQ joints – Beware of dipping sauces and non-keto condiments. Bunless burgers, lettuce cups, grilled meats and wings with salad on the side. Inquire about ingredients. Caesar salad with no croutons
French – French restaurants are often great choices for keto meals. Possibles – Chicken Provençal, Duck confit, Steak tartar, Charcuterie, Coq au Vin or Beef Bourguignon (inquire about ingredients)
Asian– Watch the sauces here, there are sugars and sauces galore! Opt instead for grilled meats, seafood and veggies. Possibles – Plain roasted duck meat, ribs, meat soups, or Stir-fries (but make sure there’s no added sugar in the sauce). Hot and sour, egg drop or chicken broth with scallions are good options.
Greek – Skewers, gyros, meatballs and kebabs with veggies on the side. Inquire about the ingredients and have sauces on the side.
Indian – Coconut based curries and roasted meats. Some butter chicken recipes are good keto choices. Inquire about sauce ingredients and ask for them on the side. Possibles – Tandoori chicken/shrimp/lamb without naan bread or rice, roasted eggplant, Meat tikka (very similar to tandoori) or Chicken korma.
General tips for eating out
- Choose your meal mates wisely. It can be challenging to keto on if your table mate is not supportive of your way of eating.
- Stay away from that slippery slope, having a small bite or two can lead you through the gateway of waking carb cravings and failed diet plans. Cheating will make you feel bloated and lead to stomach upset. Nobody wants that while on holidays.
- Worse case scenario, if you accidentally eat more carbs then you should, stay the course! Especially if you’re fat adapted, its easy to get back on track.
- Beware the beer. Beer is known as liquid bread for a reason, if they don’t have a low carb version, Steer clear. Remember that alcohol hits you harder when you’re in ketosis, so easy does it.
- Protect yourself from known weak spots – Know your strengths and weaknesses and steer clear of those that create temptations.
- Belly up to the water trough, make sure your water glass is always full while at the table. It will help you feel full and keep you on track.
- Search out the fats – Just like at home, add butter, oils and cream. Beware of vegetable oil, its super inflammatory and is not keto!
Condiments can make or break a meal!
Here’s a list of those that are generally friendly out on the road-
Condiment can– Hot sauce, mustard, olive oils, béchamel, hollandaise, salsa, dill relish, nut butters, broth or bouillon, pesto, horseradish, mayo
Condiment can not – ketchup, BBQ sauce, honey, hummus, soy, tamari, plum sauce, tartar, teriyaki, sweet relish, chili and cocktail sauce
*There are good and bad versions of every sauce and condiment. Always check ingredients and practice due diligence.
THE most important tip of all, is once you’ve done your homework and made the best decision that you can, just enjoy your meal. Most of us Ketonian folk don’t get to eat out often, so when you do soak it all up and enjoy the whole experience. Enjoy a great meal and best of all, leave the dishes to somebody else.
Pack list (to take from home)
Small container (coffee cream)
Convenience store shopping list (to buy on the road)
Cans of tuna, chicken, ham
Keto approved whipping cream