Most of the readers seem to be on some sort of Paleo, low carb or Keto diet. I’m personally not on Paleo, but I’m a huge fan of its theories and the health benefits behind it. One big misconception about Paleo is that you should avoid all carbs at all cost, which is untrue. Paleo actually promotes eating carbs in moderation as long as it’s good carbs that do not damage your body or cause discomfort. Another thing that I love about Paleo is that it promotes a healthy lifestyle that you can stick to. It’s not a difficult diet and it’s about making changes towards eating healthy, which is why I support Paleo myself.
If you’re someone that is constantly busy and always eating out, Paleo can help you with a set of base guidelines when it comes to choosing restaurants and foods.
Here’s a straightforward guide to eating out on Paleo. Please note that I’m only including chains and well-known restaurants, but you can always adapt to the same style. The whole goal of this guide is for you to understand how you can eat semi-healthy while eating out with your buddies!
Dennys / Ihop
Dennys is one of the best places for you to eat out on Paleo, Keto, or just trying to eat healthy in general. Every time my friends ask me to eat out at a chain restaurant, I always try to look for a Dennys. Most of the items on the Dennys menu are Paleo friendly. I love the fact that Dennys have a 24/7 breakfast menu. Those bacon and eggs make me hungry! My go-to item is their Fit Fare omelet which is pretty much an egg white omelet with a side of fruits and turkey bacon!! I usually tell them to leave out the bread.
I also like the build your own grand slam style breakfast where you can add eggs (any style), bacon, and any other side that you like. If you want to eat heavy, you can always go for their t-bone steak. It’s a great way to fill up your proteins! The good thing about Dennys is that you can find it almost anywhere you go!
It’s also a great option for people on a plant-based diet. They have loaded salads that are perfect fit.
Yum! The name already sounds delicious. Oh, boy, do I love Outback. It isn’t the BEST steakhouse out there, but it is a semi-high class chain that won’t force me to go bankrupt! I would say that over 60% of their items on the menu are Paleo friendly. I love taking people out to Outback. I love telling my friends, Let me treat you to some steak! It’s a double-win situation for both of us!
You can’t go wrong with their baked sweet potato. It’s Paleo friendly and boy does it taste good! The sad thing is that not every Outback has this as an option. Regardless, you can’t go wrong with any of the steaks. Trying to stay lean? You can always go for their Sirloin. Want seafood? shoot for the shrimp or lobsters. Yum!!
If you’re cutting down on the starchy foods, you can always skip out on the baked or mash potatoes and opt in for a side of steam veggies. One thing to skip for sure is the bread that they provide for you in the beginning.
Another thing you might want to watch out for when eating at Outback is their BBQ items. Those have a lot of sauce in them that are packed with unhealthy fat and calories. Another thing to avoid is their appetizer menu in general. The blooming onion is packed with over 1,000 calories and that is just an appetizer. Also, avoid the fries. Their baked potato is okay to have, but the cream along with butter etc. is what makes it not as good.
This is another famous chain all across America, but it isn’t my go-to option. The reason why this one is a bit difficult is because most of the meals come with a puddle of sauce. Another thing is that their dishes usually come with some sort of pasta or fries, which isn’t necessary Paleo friendly. Obviously avoid anything that has chips, bread, pasta or is fried.
I usually go for the Sirloin with a side of veggies. Steak is my go-to option when it comes to American style restaurants. Depending on the Applebee branch, I might opt for the shrimp and chicken as well. I’ve also seen some branches that come with grilled shrimp on their appetizer menu that you can add to your salads, but that varies from place to place.
Panera is great! Panera isn’t as easy to locate as the other chains above, but they are unique because they have a secret menu for people on the Paleo diet that most Paleo people don’t know about. Anything with the word power in their menu is Paleo friendly.
For example, they have a Power breakfast egg bowl with steak. That sounds like a steak and eggs in a bowl to me! Paleo friendly yep! They’re not saying it’s paleo – specifically, but it sounds pretty paleo to us!
You could also go with their regular salads and the salads are Paleo friendly. Skip the bread and chips, go for the apple! Their soups are rather healthy as well give it a try!
Haha, I know everyone’s probably waiting on this one! For those that know me, they know that I travel quite often and that means that I’ve probably eaten Mcdonald at almost every country that I’ve been to. Some countries aren’t necessary Paleo friendly nor do they understand the concept behind it. One thing I noticed is that almost every country’s McDonald has some sort of grilled chicken or salad. Even in Asia where starchy food is considered a main/side dish, they still have options for salad, but it might look weird if you’re ordering without the bun.
I also noticed that people will give you weird looks for ordering food without the bun etc. Their chicken isn’t necessarily healthy or the best type of chicken that you would be looking for, but in a situation where you want to stick with your meal plan, but can’t cook your own food, then go for their grilled chicken salad. I’ve tried a couple of them all over Asia and they taste great, but in some countries like Hong Kong, they don’t use chicken breast and tend to use chicken thighs.
Some countries also don’t offer any type of “Big breakfast”, but they always have an Egg Mcmuffin where you can skip out on the bread. In the states, it’s a little easier because you can go for options like sausage patty, eggs, and even egg white options.
All my buddies love Olive Garden. I personally have a hard time choosing food here because they put cheese, sauce, or pasta on almost everything. I usually get the Salmon, which is the only thing on the menu that suits my test. Salmon is extremely healthy and gives me all my healthy fats, but their salmon is rather small compared to other restaurants. Another option to shoot for at this restaurant is the Tilapia with Zucchini, which tastes pretty good as well.
If you’re on Paleo, you probably do not want to choose this as a go to restaurant, but it can be possible especially if you are looking for a place to sit down with your friends on a social night.
Panda Express/PF Changs
I avoid P.F. Chang as much as I can. It’s not because it’s not Paleo friendly, but because the food is overpriced and not authentic Chinese food. It is still a famous chain and proves that Chinese food could work for the Paleo diet as well!
Typically you want to shoot for the entrees and not the Rice + meat option. Quite a few chicken dishes are Paleo friendly: Moo Goo Gai Pan, Ginger Chicken with Broccoli, Philip’s Better Lemon Chicken, Chang’s Spicy Chicken, and Dali Chicken. A few of the seafood dishes are also great. Those include Shrimp with Lobster Sauce, Chang’s Lemon Scallops, Cantonese Shrimp or Scallops and much more. Watch out for the added sugar in the Lemon sauce!
Another thing about these restaurants is that the food is super oily. Traditional Chinese food is actually really clean.
This is the most upscale chain restaurant that I know and guess what? They are great for people on Paleo. This restaurant can break your wallet though 🙁
For my appetizer, I like to have a simple Cobb Salad or the Seared Tuna Tataki Salad. Some of my other friends on Paleo usually shoot for their lettuce wraps. For my main dish, I think the best option is the Grilled Rib-Eye Steak or Filet Mignon. If Im on bulk mode, I shoot for the Grilled Salmon. Sadly, we have to avoid all of their cheesecakes.
For the sides, skip the french fries and onion rings and substitute instead a side of green beans, asparagus, sauteed spinach or broccoli. The Cheesecake Factory also has a Skinnylicious Menu that is worth checking out.
Sadly it isnt Friday today 🙁 , but this is still a good Paleo option when dining out. If Im having lunch here I will always go for The Grilled Chicken Cobb salad. It is great and you can request no cheese and ask for olive oil and vinegar for dressing. As for entrees, there are ribs, chicken and flat iron steaks but they all come with a Jack Daniels sauce, which you can skip.
My most favorite entree that works well with Paleo is the Premium Black Angus Steaks. You could always go for the burgers without the bun! Standard Paleo style 🙂
In and out!
For those that live in California, we all know In and Out is a gem 🙂 For those that don’t live in California, you probably heard that it’s a gem especially for people on Paleo. They have “protein style” which means that you can get the burger without the bun. If one burger doesn’t make you full, double it up. Don’t add any sauce to it because that will up your calories by a lot, especially their animal sauce.
According to MyFitnessPal, one of those sauce packets add 80 additional calories. Another thing to avoid at In and Out is their fries. I know it’s good and it tastes delicious, but let’s avoid those!
A Double or Triple Protein Style, no sauce” gets you a double or triple patty in a lettuce wrap (although you can order any burger “protein style” and get it without the bun).
You can also add extra grilled onions, tomatoes, and chilies, depending on how you like your veggies. The nice surprise with In-N-Out is that it is cheap. If you’re starving and near one, remember that it’s a solid option if you’re not feeling some Dennys or Ihop.
In-N-Out’s ingredients aren’t pre-packaged or frozen – in fact, their restaurants don’t even have microwaves, heat lamps, or freezers. Hamburger patties are produced in two facilities, one in Baldwin Park, California, and one in Dallas, Texas, using “whole chucks from premium cattle selected especially for In-N-Out Burger.” This makes it a more healthy option than a lot of other fast food burger chains. When possible you always want to go for grass fed beef though! Their meat is controversial, but it’s still more healthy than Mcdonalds.
The holy grail of chains for people on Paleo and one of my favorite fast food chains. I almost always try to look for Chipotle when eating out. Another reason Chipotle is one of my favorite paleo friendly restaurants? Because they are always striving to do the right thing. Admittedly hard when scaling up and sourcing enough food to fill their restaurants, they are continually making decisions that impact customers health, the welfare of animals and lives of farmers. One of the huge things that Chipotle did recently remove GMO products 100% from their stores. This is a major plus for me.
If you’re on a strict Paleo, the first thing to skip is the tortilla and chips. Those are no good. If you are okay with rice, then go for the brown rice or the black beans, but if you’re on keto or low carb, you can avoid those as well.
Ask for the salad base where they fill it up with lettuce, then add any of the meats that you like. I personally like the steak and chicken. You can’t go wrong with those. Then I like to add extra fajita veggies, some cheese (doesn’t apply to people who can’t handle dairy), and lastly, I ask them to fill it up with guac. Sprinkle some hot sauce over it and you have yourself an awesome healthy and Paleo friendly meal. If you’re feeling it, load up some salsa as well!
I can’t really think of a sushi chain for this guide, but sushi can be extremely Paleo friendly if done right. White/brown rice isn’t necessary against Paleo as long as its in moderation. If you are on a zero rice Paleo diet, then you can always dig for sashimi and skip the rice. Almost every restaurant will have some sort of sashimi or grilled fish as an option. Any seafood is a big plus on Paleo as long as it’s not deep fried. Things to avoid for sure would be the tempura. The batter and the fried foods is something you want to remove from your list. Avoid ramen as well.
If you are in Japan, then a lot of sushi shops come with Yakitoris or they come with grilled fish options. Go for those over starch heavy products.
I hope this guide helped everyone that is figuring out how to eat on Paleo while on the road. This can be a baseline guide for eating healthy in general when eating out.
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