In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “What Can I Eat at a Mexican Restaurant on a Keto Diet?” and will discuss come keto-friendly Mexican dishes.
What Can I Eat at a Mexican Restaurant on a Keto Diet?
You can eat a lot of things at a Mexican restaurant on a keto diet. Look for non-sugary marinated carne asada, chile verde, and fajitas. Salsa and guacamole are allowed in moderation, as are cheese, sour cream, and cheese curds. When on a ketogenic diet, however, you should stay away from foods like chips, tortillas, beans, and grains.
The average carbohydrate intake in the US is in the range of 45–50% of daily energy, with low-carbohydrate (low-carb) diets providing less than 40% of daily energy intake from carbohydrates. While in the Mediterranean diet in the range of 35–40% energy from carbohydrates, a Ketogenic diet is the most restrictive low-carb diet, in the range of 5–10% energy from carbohydrates (1).
When it comes to consuming Mexican cuisine, how does being on a keto diet affect you?
There is common agreement on the assumption that a ketogenic diet consists of a very low carbohydrate content, limited to 5–10% of total kcal daily intake, which consists of 50—and sometimes 20—grams per day (2). For the ketogenic diet to function, your body must enter a metabolic condition known as ketosis first. This is accomplished by restricting carbohydrate intake to no more than 50 grams per day. Mexican cuisine tends to be rich in carbs. To prevent this, stick to foods like meat, cheese, and sour cream.
To begin, let’s take a look at the basics of the ketogenic diet. You may relax your carb restrictions after a time if you’ve been on the ketogenic diet long enough. For those new to keto, it’s critical to keep an eye out for any hidden carbohydrates and adhere to your diet as closely as possible. If you don’t, you may never reach the point when your body is really in ketosis.
Even while Mexican cuisine tends to be rich in fat, it may also be very high in carbohydrates. Consider that the following are common menu items at most Mexican restaurants:
· Tortillas made with cornmeal
The good news is that Mexican restaurants don’t serve many sandwiches. However, since most places provide a large basket of chips and salsa as soon as you walk in, it’s easy to blow your keto diet if you’re not cautious.
The typical Mexican diet is rich in carbohydrates. When analyzing the traditional Mexican diet, studies revealed that the individual food items present in at least 50% of the studies were maize, maize tortillas, beans, squash, tomato, chile, and chocolate drinks. When the items were grouped into food groups, the most cited (75% of the studies) groups were grains and tubers, maize products, legumes, vegetables, fruits, meats, and herbs and condiments. At least 50% of the studies also mentioned oils and fats, nuts and seeds, beverages, fish and seafood, and sweets and sweeteners (3).
Which Mexican dishes should you steer clear of when on Keto?
The Mexican diet is generally high in fiber and low in fat and includes a variety of vegetables and beans, accompanied with corn tortillas and hot Chile sauces. The ‘‘traditional Mexican diet’’ is identified as consuming more tortillas and legumes than meat, poultry, milk, baked products or alcohol, and has a high caloric intake (4).
If you’re following a ketogenic diet, stay away from the following items on the menu at Mexican restaurants: tortillas, rice, tortilla chips, beans, corn, potatoes, and anything sweet. Avoid these items. Eat just a modest quantity of salsa, queso, and guacamole.
One medium avocado has approximately 12 grams of carbohydrates, which is terrible. A single avocado, if you’re like me, might be devoured in a single sitting. This would account for anything from 24 to 60 percent of your total daily carbohydrate intake (5).
If you must have guacamole, use it as a topping for your meal rather than as a dip for your chips. We don’t usually notice when foods like fajitas are marinated in sweet sauces. The better the marinade is made in-house. However, be sure to enquire about the marinade’s contents. It’s easy to get out of ketosis if you consume too much sugar from marinades and other prepared foods that come in a bottle.
Is it okay to eat Mexican cheese on a keto diet?
Mexican cheese dip, often known as queso, is prepared using Velveeta and is not allowed on the ketogenic diet since it contains high amounts of carbs. Instead of using low-carb salsa, try using full-fat melted cream cheese instead. Velveeta is however, not of Mexican origin, rather of American, thus it was invented by Emil Frey in 1918. Velveeta was being sold with packaging that described it as a “pasteurized process cheese spread”.
The popularity of queso is nearly completely confined to the state of Texas. The Spanish word queso simply translates as “cheese.” If you’re in Texas, though, you’re more likely to see a melted cheese sauce with which to serve chips. To make it authentic, use Velveeta cheese and Rotel tomatoes from a can.
Among all the Mexican cheeses, quesos frescos, or fresh cheeses, are the most popular; almost 80% of the cheese consumed in Mexico falls within this category. In general, its physicochemical composition is characterized by a moisture content ranging from 46 to 67% and by 14 to 29% fat, 15 to 21% protein, and 1 to 3% salt (6).
Will it be okay if you have wheat tortillas on keto?
Tortillas made of flour are not allowed on the ketogenic diet. Nutritionally, flour tortillas are rich in carbohydrates that generate a high glycemic response after ingestion, similar to white bread (7). For most individuals on a keto diet, tortillas with less than 19 grams of carbohydrates per serving are still too high. It’s far better to have a lettuce wrap instead.
Flour tortillas made by Mission are well-known. I don’t purchase their products since they often include bleached flour, hydrogenated oil, and, in the past, baking powder containing aluminum. All of them are harmful to health, therefore I try to stay away from them.
However, one white flour taco tortilla has around 26 grams of carbohydrates, which is about average for its size. To put it another way, a tortilla-lover is likely to eat 2-3 tortillas in a single meal, which completely obliterates your keto goals.
In a Mexican restaurant, is it okay to order fajitas if you’re following the keto diet?
If the fajitas include just grilled meat, poultry, and/or veggies, they may be consumed as part of a keto diet as long as no sweet marinade or sauce is used. Whenever possible, top your food with cheese or sour cream, use sparingly diced tomatoes, and stay away from flour tortillas.
Fajita is Spanish for “little belt” or “sash,” and the piece of meat involved resembles a cummerbund. Fajitas (pronounced fah-hee-tuhs) are derived from the diaphragm muscle (outside beef skirt) on the interior surface of the short plate in the beef forequarter, or from the secondary flank muscle (inside beef skirt) from the interior portion of the flank in the hindquarter. Fajita—skirt steak pounded thin and marinated, then seared quickly on a hot fire, and served with salsa and fresh tortillas— are nothing more than a Tex-Mex version of the standard method of cooking and eating beef in Mexico (8).
Although the term “fajitas” has come to mean marinated and grilled skirt steak, it may now also apply to other proteins like chicken, fish, or even simply grilled veggies.
Tofu is often grilled with onion and pepper strips, then topped with cheese and sour cream, with tortillas as a natural accompaniment. Tortillas are off-limits. Even so, we have no idea what kind of marinade they applied to the chicken.
Many marinades include a lot of sugar, which means they’ll have more carbohydrates in them. So, the first thing you should do is find out what marinade they use. If the meat is sitting in the marinade, asking them to remove it won’t do much good. However, Carne Asada, Barbacoa, or Carnitas may be an excellent substitute; however, be sure to inquire about the marinade used with these meats.
In this brief guide, we answered the query, “What Can I Eat at a Mexican Restaurant on a Keto Diet?” and discussed come keto-friendly Mexican dishes.
- Landry, Matthew J., et al. Adherence to ketogenic and mediterranean study diets in a crossover trial: The keto–med randomized trial. Nutrients, 2021, 13, 967.
- Watanabe, Mikiko, et al. Beneficial effects of the ketogenic diet on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: A comprehensive review of the literature. Obes Rev, 2020, 21, e13024.
- Valerino-Perea, Selene, et al. Definition of the traditional Mexican diet and its role in health: a systematic review. Nutrients, 2019, 11, 2803.
- Azar, K.M.J., Chen, E., Holland, A.T. et al. Festival Foods in the Immigrant Diet. J Immigr Minor Health, 2013, 15, 953–960.
- Dreher, Mark L., and Adrienne J. Davenport. Hass avocado composition and potential health effects. Crit rev food sci nutr, 2013, 53, 738-750.
- González-Córdova, Aarón F., et al. Invited review: artisanal Mexican cheeses. J Dairy Sci, 2016, 99, 3250-3262.
- Anton, A. Improving the nutritional and textural properties of wheat flour tortillas. Cereal res commun, 2008, 36, 301-311.
- Sweeten, Mary K., and Homer Recio. Fajitas South Texas Style. Texas FARMER Collection 1985. Texas Agricultural Extension Service.