Whether you are attending a family dinner or enjoying brunch with your friends, dining out while on a Keto diet can be stressful.
Planning a night out can become a mammoth task when the menus at fast-food restaurants are full of bread sticks, tortillas, and starchy pasta dishes.
The popular Italian restaurant chain, Olive Garden, is no different. But if you’re expecting that dining at this fast-casual-style restaurant would be impossible while staying on a low-carb diet, you might be wrong. With a little bit of forward planning, eating Keto at Olive garden is achievable.
Here are some tips on how to order your Keto-friendly meal without worrying about the social pressure and health goals:
Before placing your order, thoroughly research the options available on the menu. Having a low-carb diet does not have to equate to having a low number of choices.
The best place to start is to review the nutritional guide Olive Garden offers. This provides detailed nutritional information on all menu items, and will give you a general guideline of what you can order.
Base your meal around protein
Olive garden offers great options for protein-rich foods like salmon, chicken, shrimp, or steak.
Some suitable options would be:
- Herb Grilled Salmon
- Grilled Chicken Margherita
- Grilled meat/steak
Siding with Veggies
Low-carb veggies are a great option for sides and you can always ask for double veggies instead of pasta. A bed of leafy greens like lettuce with grilled meat will always be a safe bet.
Here are some dishes to add to your low-carb options list:
- Chicken scampi with no sauce and double vegetables, instead of pasta
- Chicken alfredo with no noodles, served over broccoli
- A house side salad with no dressing
- Italian sausage, served with broccoli or salad
Be Mindful of Sauces
It’s easy to underestimate the carbs in a sauce. It’s a common mistake many people make while eating out.
Your best bet is to opt for the creamy pesto or mushroom sauce, because the dairy will help increase your fat intake. If a cream-based sauce is not for you, a basic marinara is a really good low-carb option too.
Keeping it Clean Keto
Choosing a low-carb meal doesn’t automatically mean that you have selected a healthy meal. Foods cooked in vegetable oils like soybean oil may increase blood cholesterol levels, potentially boosting the risk of heart disease and stroke.[*]
Whenever possible, stick to whole foods and healthy fats like meat, fish, avocados, olive oil, and low-carb veggies. Opt for a low-carb dressing, such as ranch, Caesar, or a simple mix of olive oil and vinegar.
What to Avoid at Olive Garden
A dish in Olive Garden without bread or pasta is hard to find. Starchy sides like bread sticks and spaghetti are a common sight. Knowing what to avoid while ordering your meal is important too.
Follow these top tips to help you stay on track with your macros:
- Know your order - Knowing your order should be the priority. Know what you want to eat and stick to the plan.
- Avoid soups - Most soups at Olive Garden contain pasta or starchy carbs which should be avoided on Keto.
- Say no to sweetened beverages - Be cautious with alcohol choices and avoid soda and sweetened teas.
In addition to following our top tips, you can also customize your order at Olive Garden. Knowing exactly how to build your meal will help you enjoy a delicious dinner without the challenges or stresses of dining out on Keto.
And If you are looking to recreate your dining experience at home, why not try our Keto-friendly versions of popular menu items like Keto Zuppa Toscano and Low Carb Chicken Alfredo Zoodles. These low-carb alternatives are a great way to enjoy your favorite restaurant inspired meals from the comfort of your own home, while still being able to manage your macros.