Mexican restaurants are known for serving rice, beans, tortillas, and other high carb foods that don’t fit into a keto diet. But with a little planning ahead, you can enjoy delicious Mexican food and still stay in ketosis.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Focus on taco salads, fajitas, grilled meats and seafood to make keto-friendly choices at a Mexican restaurant.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide everything you need to know to eat keto-friendly options at a Mexican restaurant for your next night out.
Avoid the Carb-Heavy Sides
When trying to eat keto at a Mexican restaurant, it’s important to pay attention to the carb-heavy sides that often accompany your main dish. These sides can easily derail your low-carb diet and kick you out of ketosis. Here are some common carb-heavy sides to avoid:
Rice and beans
Rice and beans are staple sides in Mexican cuisine, but they are also high in carbohydrates. A cup of cooked rice contains around 45 grams of carbs, while a cup of cooked beans can have around 40 grams of carbs. If you’re following a strict keto diet, it’s best to skip these sides altogether.
Instead, opt for low-carb alternatives like grilled vegetables or a side salad.
Tortillas and chips
Tortillas and chips are another major source of carbs at Mexican restaurants. A single tortilla can have anywhere from 15 to 30 grams of carbs, depending on the size and type. Similarly, a handful of tortilla chips can easily add up to 15 grams of carbs.
To stay keto-friendly, ask for your tacos or fajitas to be served in lettuce wraps instead of tortillas, and resist the urge to munch on the complimentary chips and salsa.
Margaritas and other sweet drinks
Margaritas and other sweet drinks, such as piña coladas and mojitos, are often loaded with sugar and can quickly spike your blood sugar levels. A typical margarita can have around 30 grams of carbs or more.
Instead, opt for low-carb drink options like tequila on the rocks with a splash of lime juice, or choose a glass of dry red or white wine.
Choose Keto-Friendly Proteins
When dining at a Mexican restaurant while following a keto diet, it’s important to focus on choosing protein-rich options that are low in carbohydrates. Here are some excellent choices:
Grilled meats like steak, chicken or pork
Grilled meats such as steak, chicken, or pork are great options for those on a keto diet. These meats are high in protein and healthy fats, while being low in carbs. They are usually seasoned with flavorful spices, adding to the overall enjoyment of the meal.
Pair your grilled meats with a side of guacamole or salsa to enhance the taste and add some healthy fats.
Seafood options like grilled fish, shrimp or ceviche
If you prefer seafood, Mexican restaurants often offer a variety of delicious keto-friendly options. Grilled fish and shrimp are excellent choices as they are high in protein and healthy fats, and low in carbs. Ceviche, a dish made with raw fish marinated in citrus juices, is another great option.
It is refreshing, light, and packed with flavor.
Fajita veggies wrapped in lettuce instead of a tortilla
Many Mexican restaurants serve fajitas, which are typically made with grilled vegetables and your choice of protein. Instead of wrapping your fajita fillings in a tortilla, opt for lettuce wraps instead. Lettuce is a low-carb alternative that adds crunch and freshness to your meal.
It’s a great way to enjoy the flavors of the fajita without the extra carbs.
Remember, when dining out, it’s always a good idea to ask about the ingredients and preparation methods to ensure your meal aligns with your keto goals. Additionally, be mindful of any sauces or toppings that may contain added sugars or hidden carbs.
By making smart choices and being aware of what you’re eating, you can enjoy a delicious keto-friendly meal at a Mexican restaurant.
Ask for Customizations
When dining at a Mexican restaurant while following the keto diet, it’s important to know that you have the power to customize your meal to fit your dietary needs. Don’t be afraid to ask for modifications to make your meal keto-friendly.
The restaurant staff is usually more than happy to accommodate your requests.
Sub lettuce wraps for tortillas
One great way to eat keto at a Mexican restaurant is to substitute tortillas with lettuce wraps. Most Mexican restaurants will be more than happy to wrap your meal in a crisp and refreshing lettuce leaf instead of a high-carb tortilla.
This simple swap can save you a significant amount of carbs and help you stay on track with your keto goals.
Double up on veggies instead of rice/beans
Another keto-friendly customization option is to double up on veggies instead of having rice or beans. Mexican cuisine is known for its delicious and colorful vegetable dishes. By opting for extra servings of grilled vegetables or a side of sautéed peppers and onions, you can add more fiber and nutrients to your meal while keeping the carb count low.
It’s a win-win situation!
Order salad dressing and condiments on the side
When ordering a salad or any other dish that comes with dressings or condiments, it’s a good idea to ask for them on the side. This way, you have control over the amount you use. Many salad dressings and condiments contain hidden sugars and unhealthy fats, which can derail your keto progress.
By having them on the side, you can use them sparingly or even opt for a keto-friendly alternative like olive oil and vinegar.
Watch Out for Hidden Carbs
When eating keto at a Mexican restaurant, one of the most important things to watch out for is hidden carbs. While Mexican cuisine is known for its flavorful dishes, many of them can be high in carbohydrates. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
Corn tortillas still have carbs
While corn tortillas are a popular choice for tacos and enchiladas, they still contain carbohydrates. In fact, a single corn tortilla can have around 12 grams of carbs. If you’re following a strict keto diet, it’s best to opt for lettuce wraps or ask for your dish to be served on a bed of lettuce instead.
Flour tortillas have more carbs than corn
If you’re trying to minimize your carb intake, it’s important to know that flour tortillas have more carbs than corn tortillas. A typical flour tortilla can have around 24 grams of carbs, so it’s best to avoid them if you’re on a keto diet.
Instead, look for dishes that are served with lettuce wraps or ask if they can substitute the tortilla with a low-carb option like a cheese shell.
Salsas and pico de gallo can have added sugars
While salsas and pico de gallo can be a great way to add flavor to your meal, it’s important to check for added sugars. Some restaurants may add sugar to their salsas to enhance the taste. To be on the safe side, ask for salsa or pico de gallo without any added sugars or make your own at home using fresh ingredients.
Avoid chimichangas, enchiladas, chilaquiles
When it comes to choosing keto-friendly options at a Mexican restaurant, it’s best to avoid dishes like chimichangas, enchiladas, and chilaquiles. These dishes are typically made with high-carb ingredients like flour tortillas, beans, and rice.
Instead, look for dishes that are based on protein like grilled meats or seafood, and pair them with low-carb sides like guacamole or grilled vegetables.
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
Fresh berries with whipped cream
If you’re following a keto diet but still have a craving for something sweet, fresh berries with whipped cream can be a great option. Berries like strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are relatively low in carbs and high in fiber, making them a suitable choice for those on a keto diet.
Top them off with a dollop of homemade whipped cream made with heavy cream and a sugar substitute like stevia or erythritol for a delicious and satisfying treat.
Flan made with sugar substitutes
Flan is a classic Mexican dessert that is typically made with sugar and condensed milk. However, if you’re looking for a keto-friendly version, you can make flan using sugar substitutes like monk fruit or erythritol. These sugar substitutes can provide the sweetness you crave without the added carbs.
There are many recipes available online that can guide you through the process of making a delicious keto flan that will satisfy your sweet tooth while keeping you in ketosis.
Low carb churros or sopapillas
Churros and sopapillas are popular Mexican desserts that are traditionally made with flour and sugar. However, with a little creativity, you can enjoy a low-carb version of these treats. There are several recipes available that use almond or coconut flour as a substitute for traditional flour, and sugar substitutes like stevia or erythritol to replace the sugar.
These keto-friendly churros or sopapillas can be just as delicious as the original versions, allowing you to indulge in a sweet treat while still sticking to your keto diet.
With the right choices, you can enjoy authentic Mexican food in a low carb way. Focus on protein-centric dishes, load up on lettuce and veggies, and don’t be afraid to ask for modifications. Limit tortillas, rice, beans, and sugary drinks.
And if you plan ahead, you can still satisfy your sweet tooth without kicking yourself out of ketosis. Use these tips to make your next Mexican restaurant trip a keto success.
Now you have all the information you need to eat keto-friendly meals at a Mexican restaurant. Just remember to choose grilled proteins, double up on low carb veggies, and avoid the unnecessary carbs from sides like rice, beans and tortillas.
With a little planning, you can enjoy all the flavors of Mexican food while sticking to your keto diet goals.