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How to Eat Keto at Applebee’s

Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on October 25, 2021

Applebee's may be best known for its happy hour deals, sugary cocktails, and hefty food portions. But with a little creative ordering, this casual restaurant and bar can be surprisingly keto-friendly.

What Does a Keto-Friendly Meal Look Like?

Ketogenic, or keto, diets are low in carbs, moderate in protein, and high in fat. Depending on what plan you're following, fat will make up 60%-80% of your daily calories. Proteins are 15%-20% of your intake, and carbs just 5%-10%. For a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, this might look like 165 grams of fat, 75 grams of protein, and 40 grams of carbohydrates.

When you follow a low-carb diet, your body produces less glucose (its usual energy source). Instead, it burns ketones, a fuel your body make from its own fat stores. Your body enters a metabolic state called ketosis when you have ketones in your blood. But if you eat too many carbs, you'll no longer be in ketosis.

Things You Can Eat at Applebee’s

There's much more to Applebee’s than mozzarella sticks and nachos. The restaurant has a long and varied menu, so you have plenty to choose from.

Applebee’s lists nutritional information on its menu. Its website even has an interactive nutrition calculator that lets you to plan your meal and calculate your calorie, fat, and carb intake.

You can put together a keto-friendly meal by customizing menu items. Order salads without croutons, sandwiches without bread, and swap out fries for less carb-heavy sides.

Appetizers

Most of Applebee's wings and other apps will bust your daily carbohydrate budget. The exception is the Double-Crunch Bone-In Wings, with 35 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbs, and 60 grams of protein per serving.

Perhaps your best bet is to choose a salad as a starter. But say no to the accompanying breadstick, hold the croutons, and make sure the dressing you choose fits into your eating plan.

Try:

  • Small Caesar salad (no croutons or dressing): 2 grams fat, 3 grams carbs, 3 grams protein
  • House salad (no croutons or dressing): 4 grams fat, 6 grams carbs, 4 grams protein

The most keto-friendly dressings on the menu are:

  • Lemon olive oil vinaigrette (16 grams fat, 1 gram carbs, 0 grams protein)
  • Bleu cheese (22 grams fat, 1 gram carbs, 1 gram protein)
  • Caesar (21 grams fat, 2 grams carbs, less than 1 gram protein)

Entrees

When choosing an entree, stick to veggies and meats. Beware of sweet and creamy sauces, as well as breading that can add carbs.

Here are some of the more keto-friendly entrees (nutrition counts don't include any sides):

  • Double-glazed baby back ribs, full serving (64 grams fat, less than 1 gram carbs, 80 grams protein)
  • Top sirloin (6-ounce serving has 7 grams fat, 0 grams carbs, 34 grams protein; 8-ounce serving has 10 grams fat, 0 grams carbs, 45 grams protein)
  • Grilled chicken breast (3 grams fat, 0 grams carbs, 40 grams protein)
  • Blackened Cajun salmon (9 grams fat, 4 grams carbs, 35 grams protein)
  • Entrée Caesar salad with grilled chicken and Caesar dressing, no breadstick or croutons (49 grams fat, 12 grams carbs, 48 grams protein)

If you’re in the mood for a juicy burger, skip the bun and choose a lettuce cup instead. A Classic Bacon Cheeseburger without a bun (but with pickle, tomato, and red onion) gives you 45 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbs, and 45 grams of protein.

Sides and Extras

If you want to stay in ketosis, stay away from Applebee's fries, mashed potatoes, onion rings, and mac and cheese. Ask for a side salad without croutons or choose:

  • Steamed broccoli (8 grams fat, 6 grams carbs, 3 grams protein including butter)
  • Homestyle Cheesy Broccoli (17 grams fat, 8 grams carbs, 9 grams protein)
  • Garlicky Green Beans (13 grams fat, 10 grams carbs, 2 grams protein)

Drinks and Desserts

All of Applebee's dessert options clock in at 45 carbs or higher. So it's best not to even peek at the dessert menu.

And what about the drinks that Applebee's is known for? Skip the signature sugary cocktails when you're on a keto diet. Plain spirits like vodka, tequila, or whiskey are carb-free. Mix them with low-carb mixes like soda water (plain or flavored) or diet soda. Or choose a small glass of white wine or light beer.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “Is the keto diet for you? A Mayo expert weighs in.”

Harvard School of Public Health: “Diet Review: Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “All About the Keto Diet.”

Applebee’s: “Applebee’s Menu Nutrition Facts.”

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