Olive Garden Low Carb Options for the Keto Diet
When you’re following the ketogenic diet and someone mentions Italian, you probably think, “No thanks. How in the world can I possibly enjoy myself in a restaurant that’s swimming with unlimited pasta and bread sticks?” Well, you can.
There are advantages to eating at large chains. One of them is the desire to please, thus their willingness to offer special accommodations. You can find nutrition information online about the Olive Garden, but it’s only for complete meals, so when you say “hold the pasta,” you’ll still be guessing about the carbs.
For your sanity’s sake, ask the server to leave the bread sticks in the kitchen (or, if there’s pushback from your party, at least at the opposite end of the table), but the unlimited salad is fine. Just remember to ask them to leave off the croutons.
Keto-Friendly Appetizers at the Olive Garden
Grilled Chicken Spiedini with Creamy Alfredo with Tomatoes (4 net carbs) This one is off the Taste of Italy (small plates) menu. (2g fat, 25g protein)
Parmesan Roasted Asparagus (3 net carbs, 7g fat, 4g protein)
Parmesan Crusted Zucchini (4 net carbs, 7g fat, 4g protein)
Steamed Broccoli (3 net carbs, 0g fat, 4g protein)
Garden-fresh salad (9 net carbs with dressing, 7 without, 10g fat with dressing, 2g without, and 2g protein)
Stuffed Mushrooms (12g net carbs) Have one and pass the plate. (30g fat, 15g protein)
Zuppa Toscana (13g net carbs) It’s got sausage and kale, which is good, but also potatoes, which is not so good. If you really want it, pick around the potatoes, or see if someone will split it with you. (15g fat, 7g protein)
Entrées at the Olive Garden for the Ketogenic Diet
Did you know that you can order off the lunch menu at any time? That can keep your portion size under control. You can also substitute broccoli or mixed vegetables for the pasta in any of the dishes.
Alfredo sauce (4 net carbs) Rich and creamy, this is a great keto choice. (32g fat, 6g protein)
Gorgozola sauce (2 net carbs) Another satisfying low-carb option. (17g fat, 2g protein)
Creamy Pesto (9 net carbs) Pesto is already perfect. Add cream and you’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven. (82g fat, 13g protein)
Pair any of these sauces with steak, grilled chicken, pork or sautéed shrimp (all 0 net carbs) and tell them to hold the pasta and you’ll be well within the keto zone. It says right on the menu that you can replace any of the pasta with grilled vegetables. Keep an eye out for the carb-ier ones like onions, or ask for broccoli.
A couple of other good options to pair with these sauces are:
Italian Sausage (1.5g net carbs, 39g fat, 27g protein)
Meatballs (3) (3 net carbs, 40g fat, 27g protein)
Chicken Piccata (9 net carbs) The lemon garlic butter sauce is a keto winner. (21g fat, 33g protein) This sauce is also available with Salmon Piccata (10g net carbs, 20g fat, 29g protein).
Herb-Grilled Salmon (4 net carbs) More garlic and herb deliciousness. The broccoli that comes with it and is seasoned with parmesan and… more garlic! (28g fat, 43g protein)
Chicken Margherita (6 net carbs) Like the pizza with pesto, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes, but healthier, and yummier with the lemon garlic sauce. (22g fat, 37g protein)
The Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad is passable at 14 net carbs. (40g fat, 43g protein)
Garden veggies (4 net carbs) This one is off the lasagna menu. I wouldn’t “hold the lasagna,” but you could ask for it as a side. (0 g fat, 2g protein)
You can also request a fresh spinach salad (3 net carbs) or oven-roasted asparagus (1 net carb), even though they’re not on the main menu.
Low Carb Drink Options at the Olive Garden
Water, sparkling water, iced tea, coffee, and tea are all 0 net carbs. Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Fanta Zero and Pomegranate Citrus Acqua Fresca (1 net carb) are other options. They do have light beer (6 net carbs) but it probably won’t make the cut unless it’s a very special occasion.
With this handy list, the announcement that an office party or a family get-together is happening at the Olive Garden should make ordering a breeze. Keep in mind, however, this type of food is very calorie-dense and the portion sizes are huge, making it for occasional indulgence only.