Italian restaurants serve tons of pasta, bread, and pizza– not suitable for the keto diet right? Actually, you’d be surprised at how keto friendly Italian food can be. You just need to know what and how to order then you’re all set! This Eating Out on Keto: Italian Restaurants guide has everything you need to know for enjoying low carb Italian food anywhere (including Italy!)
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Enjoying low carb Italian food while eating out on keto is easier than you’d think! There’s actually tons of awesome keto friendly Italian food options that are healthy and satisfying. You just have to get creative and know the right tricks. In this guide, we’ll explore what Italian food is low carb and the best way to order to make sure you stay in ketosis!
Want to be sure you’re staying in ketosis? Check this out!
What can I order at an Italian restaurant on keto?
The biggest principle for eating out Italian on the keto diet is to avoid starch of any kind.
This includes, but is not limited to:
- Croutons on salad
- Any chicken dish that’s breaded (i.e. chicken parmesan is typically breaded)
So now you’re probably wondering: “What Italian food IS low carb?” I’ve got your answer below. 😋
Here are the best ketogenic Italian food options:
- Meat sauce or bolognese- One of the best low carb meals to order at an Italian restaurant is simply a bowl of meat sauce or bolognese without the pasta! Almost every Italian restaurant has a pasta dish that includes meat sauce. Simply order that and ask if they can replace the pasta with low carb steamed veggies. You can also use this strategy with other pasta dishes that have lots of protein and fat (i.e. spaghetti with white clam sauce). Ask for the dish without the pasta and veggies instead.
- Grilled chicken parmesan– Chicken parmesan can be a great low carb Italian option when eating out on keto, if you know how to order it. As I mentioned above, chicken parm is typically breaded which makes it an eating out on keto no-no BUT most Italian restaurants are willing to do a chicken parmesan using grilled chicken instead. If this is the case, this is a GREAT Italian keto option because the cheese provides plenty of healthy fat. You can utilize this same strategy for other high fat chicken dishes, such as chicken piccata– just ask for the chicken to be grilled instead of breaded for a great keto friendly Italian food option! You can also ask for extra butter on dishes like chicken piccata for a ketosis boost.
- Filling of lasagna– Another great tip for eating out on keto at Italian restaurants is to ask for the filling of lasagna without the noodles. Lasagna typically has ricotta cheese, spinach, and ground beef which are all awesome keto friendly foods. Ask for those ingredients mixed and baked together with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese melted on top and veggies on the side. You won’t even miss the noodles! The same thing can be done with the filling for manicotti, cannelloni, or stuffed shells. You can also just eat around the noodles if they won’t bring it to you without (but most restaurants will if you ask!)
- Antipasto salad– Antipasto salads or plates are typically a great choice when eating out on keto at Italian restaurants. Antipasto typically has cheese, cured meats, olives, and marinated artichokes– all of which are high fat and low carb. It also offers a good ratio of protein to fat since it’s usually drizzled with olive oil (you can always ask for extra olive oil too). Another good keto friendly Italian salad option is a caprese salad which is simply tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and olive oil. You can add grilled chicken or steak to your caprese salad for protein.
- Cheese or Salumi plate- Cheese plates are a delicious keto friendly option that is usually available at high end Italian restaurants. Who doesn’t love a plate full of cheese? You can also try a salumi plate, which is the Italian version of charcuterie (cured meats). Order a side of low carb veggies (broccoli or spinach stir fried with garlic and olive oil is a good option) for a filling meal.
- Carpaccio- Carpaccio is thinly sliced meat or fish served raw and topped with shaved parmesan. It’s a good keto friendly Italian appetizer. Drizzle with additional olive oil for more fat.
- Grilled meat or fish– Most Italian restaurants offer some sort of keto friendly grilled meat or fish dish. You can order this with a side of steamed or stir fried veggies (stir fried will give you more fat) and ask for extra olive oil on the side for drizzling.
- Pizza toppings– Another way to enjoy keto at Italian restaurants is to order just the cheese and toppings of a pizza. You can ask them to melt mozzarella cheese with tomato sauce and your favorite low carb toppings on top of a bed of ricotta cheese (cheese on cheese = win) or steamed veggies.
Other things to consider when eating out Italian on keto:
- Sauces- Sometimes marinara or bolognese sauce can contain sweeteners. It’s usually a small amount that won’t kick you out of ketosis, but if you’re concerned always ask to be sure.
- Salad dressings- Another potential problem area when eating out on keto at Italian restaurants is salad dressings. Salad dressings can be filled with hidden carbs and sugars. To be on the safe side, always ask for oil and vinegar in place of the regular dressing.
If you feel like you didn’t get enough fat to feel satiated while eating out on keto at an Italian restaurant, follow the tips below!
How to add fat to make Italian dishes more keto friendly:
- CHEESE!!- When in doubt, add more cheese! You can ask for additional parmesan, ricotta, mozzarella, or any cheese you like on top of your dish.
- Olive oil- Italian restaurants always have olive oil you can drizzle on your food to make it extra keto friendly.
So that’s it! Your guide to eating out on keto at any Italian restaurant. Until next time… Ciao! 🇮🇹 P.S. You can use this guide for eating ketogenic in Italy too!
What other eating out on keto restaurant guides would you like to see? Comment below and let me know! (P.S. so far I have Mexican and Chinese… I’m considering Thai or Indian for my next guide. what are your thoughts?)
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