You know a diet has hit mainstream when chain seafood restaurants are touting their low-carb, high-fat options.

By Kimberly Holland
January 18, 2019
Photo courtesy of Red Lobster

Chipotle gets a lot of love for their keto-friendly fast-food menu. Five Guys does, too. But these aren’t the only restaurants on the block that can make you keto meals.

Indeed, as the ketogenic diet is becoming more popular (though not without its detractors hoping for its demise), restaurants are looking for ways to lure keto eaters out of their homes and away from their stashes of steak, avocado, and ghee. Establishments are plying the high-fat, low-carb focused dieters with special menus and touted swaps that take typical fare into the keto-safe territory.

Red Lobster is the latest restaurant to step up with menu promotions targeted to New Years’ dieters.

WATCH: 7 Keto Diet Mistakes to Avoid

How to Eat Keto at Red Lobster

As a restaurant focused primarily on seafood, Red Lobster has a leg up compared to, say, Pizza Hut. Seafood is a great option for keto eaters because it’s naturally low in carbs and high in good-for-you fats that keto dieters seek out in their day. That makes navigating the Red Lobster keto menu easier, but there are still hurdles you have to overcome.

Main dishes: Look for entrees like Classic Maine Lobster Tail (less than one carb), Wild-Caught Snow Crab Legs (zero carbs), and Wood-Grilled Shrimp Skewers (less than one carb). Most of their fish and seafood options are a go really. Avoid any that have breading or fruit salsas.

Sides: As is, the menu for most of main dishes will come with potatoes or rice, but you can ask your server to make your meal keto-friendly by getting Fresh Seasonal Asparagus (two net carbs), Seasoned Fresh Broccoli (five net carbs), or Roasted Green Beans (four net carbs).

Appetizers: Sorry to say, you’re going to have to skip the beloved Cheddar Bay Biscuits (16 carbs each), but in return, you can eat their Tuna Poke Plate (hold the tortilla chips). Side salads are always a go without croutons.

Check out their Interactive Menu for a total carb count for each meal. Keep in mind many dishes are keto-friendly with small changes, so use your best keto know-how.

A Guide to Dining Out on Special Diets

Many restaurants are becoming hip to the keto craze—and for that matter, the Paleo, Whole30, and Mediterranean Diet crazes, too. (Red Lobster also has selections for the latter two.) That makes dining out and sticking to your eating plans much easier.

When ordering from the menu, keep these rules in mind:

Keto: A protein and low-carb sides will always be the easiest way to go. Most restaurants have at least asparagus and broccoli as an option. Bonus points if they have cauliflower rice or pureed cauliflower. You can also always get a bacon cheeseburger or grilled chicken sandwich sans buns (or wrapped in lettuce). Salads are sometimes OK, but watch for hidden sources of carbs like fried onions, corn, or croutons.

Mediterranean: The formula for this diet is very simple: veg + fish + wine. It’s really that simple. Look for the cleanest fish option (i.e. no breading) and a steamed, roasted, or grilled vegetable side. Wine is OK on this diet, so order a glass. 

Whole30: This one’s tricky, but restaurants are increasingly eager to help. Take Panera, for example. Almost all of their salads are Whole30-compliant if you remove some of the crispy toppings and stick to olive oil for a salad dressing. At sit-down restaurants, you can order just about any protein (sans flavorings) and steamed or grilled sides (sans flavorings, butter, or oils).

When in doubt, ask your server. Things that look OK might not be. For example, Red Lobster notes their six-ounce filet without seasoning complies with Whole30, but their NY strip and sirloin do not because the marinade used on them doesn’t comply.

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