Eating Keto on the Go
Staying on a diet while traveling is one thing, but staying on the Keto diet while traveling is quite a feat. Those of you who have been on the Keto diet while traveling somewhere know it well—airport food sucks, the pretzels are often times the only food they give you on the plane for free these days and restaurants rarely offer Keto-friendly meals. And if you’re like me, cooking on your own is not really an option most of the time. Almost every article you read on this topic has some Keto idiot who probably travels once a year and says that when you go on a trip and want to eat Keto you really should stay at a place that has a kitchen and cook your own meals. I travel for work a lot, so I don’t have the option to rent an efficiency studio where I can cook my own meals, putting me at the mercy of hotel restaurants with very little options. Plus, a vacation to me doesn’t involve cooking at home—I consider myself a foodie and both my husband and I actually enjoy eating food and enjoy eating out—so that whole rent a studio with a kitchen and cook your own meals thing just doesn’t work for me. But staying Keto while traveling IS possible, with these simple steps:
1. Bring Snacks
Bringing snacks with you—particularly for when you are stuck on a plane—is a must for staying on track I with your Keto diet. Most short flights don’t even serve food and only offer packets of pretzels or peanuts. Even the peanuts though are typically coated in hydrogenated oils and sugar, so unless you know for sure what’s in them, those are off limits too. And the flights that do serve food generally only have sandwiches and snack boxes. I like to bring an assortment of snacks in my carry on or my purse for the plane, and then if I’m going on a longer trip I’ll include a large bag of snacks in my checked bag. Most of the snacks I get are from my monthly Keto Box, which I love because each month I get new ideas for Keto-friendly snacks and then just order more on Amazon when I find something I like. Here is a list of snacks that I like to bring with me:
Raw Almond Packets from Trader Joe's
For longer flights, I will often bring my own pre-cooked meals. Since it’s at the start of the trip, there’s no need to worry about refrigeration and I simply put them in a plastic container that I am willing to throw away. Great options for breakfast are eggs and sliced avocado, baked avocado boats, veggie and egg frittatas, egg bites/cups, or even a smoothie that I blended in the morning. Or you can just throw a couple scoops of Ketologie Chocolate Keto Protein powder into an empty water bottle (not full, because remember, you can’t take that on the plane) and then fill up and shake once you get past security or on the plane. Good options for lunch are a salad with chicken and a small disposable container of dressing on the side (FYI: the packaging they use in the Blue Apron food delivery service is super wasteful but the little containers they put stuff in are really useful to reuse and then throw away when traveling), lettuce wraps (preferably with something hearty like cabbage so it doesn’t wilt), a cheese and salami plate, hard boiled eggs and avocados.
If you forgot your snacks though, not to worry—most U.S. airlines carry similar stuff and almost all of them will at least have a cheese plate or a tapas/snack box. You can’t eat the crackers or the fruit, but at least you can eat the cheese, salami, olives and mixed nuts. Flying always dehydrates me, so I also like to bring the single-use packets of Ultima Replenisher Electrolyte Hydration powder to pour in a water bottle so that I can stay hydrated.
2. It’s All About That Bulletproof Coffee
Not to toot my own horn (okay, I totally am), but my bulletproof coffees that I make every morning at home are really damn good. Part of what makes them so enjoyable is that I blend them in my Ninja, which completely blends both the Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil and the 4th & Heart Madagascar Vanilla Bean Ghee effortlessly, and makes it so frothy it’s like a latte. But doing this while traveling is virtually impossible. I have, however, figured out some tricks.
If you’re going on a longer trip or are willing to check a bag (I typically avoid checking at all costs, but sometimes have to), you can take a travel blender with you. I like this one that I purchased on Amazon, which is not only compact but also cordless, as it is rechargeable with a charging cord (plus, it requires the same cord as my Beats headphones, portable charging back and mini Jambox, so I don’t even have to bring an extra cord for it). This not only allows you the option to make perfect bulletproof coffees in the morning, but since you have it you can also blend up a smoothie or two if you want. And since you’re checking anyway, you can bring full size bottles and jars of brain octane oil and ghee. If you want to save space, there are several companies that offer either single use oils in either capsules or packets as well as packets of ghee. I like to use the single use packets of Bulletproof Brain Octane Oi, which I order on Amazon, and the single use packets of 4th & Heart Madagascar Vanilla Bean Ghee.
If you’re only traveling with a carry on (and therefore can’t have something like a blender with a sharp blade), you’ll have to make do with either separated coffee or empty out a water bottle, pour all your ingredients in, and shake the hell out of it. Again, I bring along as many single use packets of oil and ghee as I have days gone and then just add these to my coffee each morning. If I’m low on space, I bring along a few MCT oil capsules like these and drop them into my coffee.
3. Take Advantage of that European-Style Buffet
If your hotel or resort has a European-Style buffet, you are in luck. In addition to typically being able to eat hot foods like omelettes, scrambled eggs or sausage, a European buffet generally includes full fat greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs, and most importantly—assorted cheese and salamis. While it’s difficult to get your greens with a European breakfast, their buffets offer a plethora of full fat breakfast staples.
I’ve found that most places internationally—whether you’re in Europe, Asia, Oceania or Africa—offer buffets like these. I’ve been to hotels and resorts in Bali, Hong Kong, Italy, France, Switzerland, Mexico, the Caribbean, Morocco and Fiji that have all had breakfast buffets like I’ve mentioned, in addition to hot food that can be made to order.
4. Do Your Research
Knowing what you can eat at a particular place or particular restaurant can take a lot of the stress and anxiety out of traveling while staying Keto. If you’re like me and you have a few reservations at a number of different restaurants, look at the menu ahead of time to see what options you have. Most fine dining restaurants—even those with prix five menus—will cater to specific dietary restrictions if you tell them ahead of time. What I find most easiest for standard restaurants though is to simply look up the menu online ahead of time and figure out what, if anything, there is for me to eat. Often times you can sub starchy sides for grilled or steamed vegetables, so as long as they are willing to make modifications, almost any restaurant will have something Keto-friendly. And if there’s absolutely nothing on the menu that you can eat, well if you’ve done your research ahead of time you can choose to simply pick another restaurant.
5. Know Your Restaurant Options
Knowing what you can eat at certain types of restaurants or in certain areas of the world is one of the best ways you can overcome any issues presented by staying Keto while traveling. Here are my tips for specific locations and types of cuisine:
Asia: Chinese, Thai, Japanese, etc.
I find Asian cuisine to be the hardest to fit into my Keto diet, despite the fact that I love it. Pho, ramen and dim sum are quite possibly my favorite things to eat, yet they’re not really keto. With Asian cuisine, stick to meat dishes that don’t have sugar in the sauce (just ask). Sautéed vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, bok choy and spinach can typically be found on Chinese food menus. Japanese is the easiest, as you can simply order a variety of sashimi (not sushi) without the rice and pair it with a seaweed salad or vegetables. Miso soup typically has bean paste and tofu, but if you’re going to cheat it’s not the worst thing to cheat with. For Thai food you order similar to Chinese: get meats and grilled/sautéed vegetables, avoiding things with sugary sauces. You can do pho if you just don’t eat the noodles (or tell them not to throw them in there). Get a beef or chicken pho and ask them to throw in all the vegetables they normally would for a vegetable bowl, such as bok choy, cabbage and onions.
Europe: French, Mediterranean, Italian, German
Mediterranean cuisine is the most keto-friendly. Grilled lamb, fish, shrimp, chicken and beef are prevalent in Mediterranean cuisine, as are low carb vegetables like greens, cucumber, and celery. Full fat yogurt, cheeses and olives are often the focus in Greek dishes, so take advantage of that. You can often find a simple salad with spinach or arugula, olives, tomatoes and feta and can simply drizzle some olive oil and a squeeze of lemon over it and you’ve got a perfectly refreshing, light salad that’s keto friendly.
Most French food is good too because they go heavy on things like butter, heavy cream and oil. Order steak frites and sub veggies for the fries. Most French restaurants have a duck or chicken dish, often times basted in its butter or its own fat (confit) with the skin on, which gives you both protein and that added fat.
In Italy, order things like veal osso bucco, carpaccio and fresh fish. Almost any Italian restaurant will have a simple arugula salad with Parmesan cheese; if you’re lucky that same salad will come with prosciutto. A tomato caprese salad with either mozzarella or burrata is a great option. And in most French or Italian restaurants you can find steak and tuna tartare.
In Germany, eat the sausage with kraut. If you’re in Germany for a long time then I’m sorry—you’ll probably have to end up either finding non-German restaurants or eating a lot of meat and cheese during your trip. Not to worry though—there’s plenty of it. However, no pretzels, spatzle or potatoes for you.
Africa: Moroccan, South African, etc.
This one is tricky, but primarily because the food varies quite a bit and rarely will you have to eat truly “African” cuisine. Most dishes will have a protein and vegetables; just avoid couscous and rice.
Mexican food is the most difficult for me, primarily because I LOVE to eat tortilla chips and salsa and also like the beans. But there are still a few great options when eating in Mexico or Latin America. Some places will do tacos and allow you to sub a leaf of lettuce or cabbage instead of the tortilla. Or simply order tacos with all the fixins and just use a fork to eat the tacos without the tortilla. Load up on guacamole, meat, cheese and sour cream.
I always love to hear people's favorite keto dishes, so if you have a favorite, email me or comment on my instagram.
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Questions? Comments? Feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org