Summer is here and we’re ready to get outside. Now, more than ever (especially following 2020), people are ready to re-engage with the world. That means meals with friends and catching up over happy hour drinks at a local outdoor patio.
Whether you are new to keto diet basics or are a keto pro, restaurants and bars create a unique challenge where offers of delicious bread baskets and decadent dessert menus try even the heartiest soul.
Is the World Accommodating a Keto Diet Lifestyle?
Over the last few years, restaurants and food manufacturers have seen the writing on the wall. People want to live a healthy lifestyle and what they eat is a crucial part of that choice.
Whether that’s the keto diet or some other form of modification, they all have one thing in common — fresh, wholesome, unprocessed food that focuses on lean protein, healthy fats, and plenty of vegetables.
Today, restaurants are much more accommodating with protein-forward options and generous menu choices that allow people to find the right meals to fit their dietary requirements. In fact, low-carb meals are showing up on restaurant menus for everything from keto diet breakfast choices to snacking options and smoothies to full-course entrees.
A Quick Review of Keto Diet Basics
Did you know that the keto diet has been around for decades and was originally conceived to help children suffering from epilepsy? The “classic” ketogenic diet uses high-fat, ultra-low carbohydrate meal plans to control seizures in people with epilepsy. It may even have benefits in the fight against Type 2 Diabetes, cancer, and dementia.
Today, the keto diet drastically reduces carbs (where your body usually gets most of its energy) and shifts your calorie intake to high-quality fats and some proteins. This reduction in carbohydrates creates a metabolic state in your body called ketosis.
When your body is in a state of ketosis, you’re able to more efficiently burn fat for energy to fuel your body and turn the fat in your liver into ketones to supply a source of “clean” energy for your brain.
People on the keto diet often report having more energy and also a feeling of clarity and focus.
You Don’t Need to be a Chemist
To achieve and maintain ketosis, you need to cut high-carb foods from your diet, including all grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, sugar, most alcohol, and even most fruit. Optimally, you should limit carbs to between 20 to 50 grams per day.
To be successful, you want to primarily focus on healthy fats as your main source of fuel. Eggs, nuts, avocados, healthy oils, tofu, green vegetables, with some fish and limited amounts of meat. A good guideline would be to get about 70–80% of your calories from healthy fats, 10–20% from proteins, and 5–10% from traditional carbohydrate sources.
Living a Keto Diet Life
At home, you can control what you have in your kitchen.
Early on, when going keto, people read food labels and Google contents checking for hidden carbs. But soon you become very adept at gauging healthy fats and finding ways to substitute old favorites with new, better-tasting alternatives, like nut granola (that’s fabulous with almond milk) or keto biscuits that average 2 grams per biscuit.
However, once you enter the outside world, you have to be creative with proactive keto diet ideas to be successful in maintaining ketosis. Luckily, the food and restaurant industries have become more and more supportive over time.
A Few Keto Diet Basics for Navigating Summertime
Some of these suggestions are tried and true and some are adaptations for our post-COVID reality of food delivery services and meal services. Each helps support your keto diet lifestyle:
- Always plan for events and social gatherings, and when possible, don’t arrive hungry. Weddings, graduation parties, 4th of July picnics — Summer is filled with celebrations and that means buffet tables, summer cocktails, and Aunt Mary’s potato salad.
Summertime gatherings are a minefield of carbs and saturated fats punctuated with grilled processed meats. Your best defense is to eat a healthy keto-focused meal before you get there and stay clear of the dessert table.
- Shift your summer entertaining to be more activity-focused. Meet at a botanical garden, see an outdoor concert or movie, go kayaking, or play miniature golf.
- If you’re invited to a “potluck”, make two (or even three dishes) that meet your keto diet’s basic requirements. That way you will always know there is something you can indulge in and feel like you’re part of the party.
- Sweet treats, ice cream, and frothy coffee drinks are a summertime staple (and a keto diet disaster). Whatever your go-to alternative, make sure you stay stocked up or know where you can find a substitution while on the road.
Try a Starbucks keto-friendly Frappuccino — iced coffee with extra ice, three shots of your favorite sugar-free syrup, and three shots of heavy cream, blended — and hold the whipped cream. For a regular size drink, that’s about 5g of carbs vs 67g of carbs. And don’t forget to tip your barista!
Dining Out or Ordering Food Delivery
Ordering restaurant delivery has been the go-to solution for 2020 and promises to continue at a strong pace. However, eating out at actual restaurants is once again happening just in time for summer. Try these solutions and keto diet ideas:
- From chips and salsa to fresh bread, skip the free appetizers. Unless you’re at a restaurant that serves homemade pickled vegetables (we see you Ted’s Montana Grill), just asker your server not to leave the temptation.
- Remember, portion sizes are overblown at most restaurants. You may have an evening meal and still have enough for lunch tomorrow.
- Luckily, summertime dining focuses on more grilled meats and fresh vegetables, but watch out for added sauces, rubs, and sugar-based marinades.
- Many restaurants now offer keto-friendly menu options, but you can find solutions at any restaurant that serves fresh, healthy food. Start with a grilled protein, poultry, meat, or fish. Then add fresh or steamed non-starchy veggies, like broccoli, asparagus, or kale. Then add additional healthy fats with sliced avocado or guacamole, extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, and cheese, like blue cheese, gorgonzola, mozzarella, or cheddar.
- Sunday brunch or any time of day rely on keto diet breakfast staples — eggs, omelets, sausage, keto-friendly bowls, and waffles or pancakes made from keto-friendly almond flour and served with fresh fruit instead of syrup.
- If you’re in a hurry, almost all fast-food restaurants have keto options like burgers without buns (wrapped in lettuce instead) or grilled chicken. Salads can be substituted for fries, just be careful of sweetened dressings like raspberry vinaigrette. And breakfast sandwiches without the biscuit or croissant work great in a pinch.
Cocktails on the Patio?
Embracing a keto diet lifestyle doesn’t mean that you have to forego a cocktail or wine occasionally. On the contrary, there are plenty of options, including companies coming out with new keto-friendly options, like zero carb hard seltzers and carb-reduced wines.
Dry wine and champagne tend to have fewer carbs, and spirits, like tequila, whiskey, and vodka, have zero as well.
Try a dry martini or vodka and soda and you still land at zero carbs. A perfect margarita (tequila, lime, and a splash of agave) comes in at about 8 carbs, just don’t forget to hold the sweet and sour mix.
Even beer is getting a makeover. The new Budweiser entry, Select 55, has only 1.9g per 12 ounces bottle.
Snacks on the Go
Whether for a road trip or to take to the beach, it’s best to pack your keto diet snacks and drinks from your trusty fridge or pantry. But that’s not always possible, so you need some alternatives.
Today, most grocery stores, convenience stores, and coffee shops stock keto diet snacks either prepackaged or in the deli case. Some might include a peeled hard-boiled egg with some protein or nuts. Others include olives, cheese, and sliced meats. Just be sure to read the ingredients list to make sure there aren’t any hidden carbs.
To Sum Up
Summer is the time of year to be outdoors and enjoy family and friends. These days, it’s easier than ever to stay true to your lifestyle choices with restaurants and food companies pitching in with great options.
With a little planning and preparation, everything from weddings and celebrations to gathering with friends can be keto-supportive this summer. Go out and enjoy yourself!
Check out our selection of keto diet snacks and granolas at NuTrail where we are committed to supporting your keto diet lifestyle.