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How to Eat Keto at Denny’s

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

Denny’s calls itself “America’s Diner.” The restaurant is open 24 hours and serves up classic diner dishes like burgers, shakes, sandwiches, and breakfast plates. But what should you do if you're on a keto diet and find yourself at a Denny's?

Don’t fret. Denny's has several keto-friendly options on its menu. You can also customize your choices to make them fit your diet.

What Should a Keto-Friendly Meal Look Like?

Ketogenic, or keto, diets are restrictive. Depending on which keto plan you're following, fats are supposed to account for up 60%-80% of your daily calories. Proteins make up 15%-20% of your intake, and carbs 5%-10%. On a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, this might look like 165 grams of fat, 75 grams protein, and 40 grams of carbs.

How does this lead to weight loss? When your body is short on carbs, it burns ketones for energy instead of glucose. Ketones are a fuel your body produces from stored fat. When ketones are in your bloodstream, your body goes into a metabolic state called ketosis. If you eat too many carbs, you'll fall out of this fat-burning state.

Keto-friendly foods include:

  • Full-fat dairy products
  • Non-starchy veggies like greens
  • Oils
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds

How to Eat Keto at Denny’s

Denny’s website lists nutritional information for its menu items. If you have time to prepare, it can help you plan your order to keep it keto-friendly.

If you don't plan ahead, focus on low-carb foods like eggs, cheese, meats, and non-starchy vegetables. Ask your server about substitution options to help keep your meal low-carb.

Breakfast

Any combination of eggs, cheese, and meats will help you stay in ketosis. You can also add low-carb veggies like mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes.

With Denny's Build Your Own Grand Slam, you get four breakfast items of your choice. Choose low-carb options like:

  • Bacon (8 grams fat, 1 gram carbs, 7 grams protein)
  • Sausage links (15 grams fat, 2 grams carbs, 5 grams protein)
  • Fried eggs (16 grams fat, 1 gram carbs, 11 grams protein for two)
  • Scrambled eggs (17 grams fat, 1 gram carbs, 14 grams protein for two)
  • Grilled ham slice (4 grams fat, 3 grams carbs, 14 grams protein)

Or try a build-your-own omelet with meat, cheese, and veggies.

Skip jams and syrups, as well as potato- or batter-based sides like hash browns, pancakes, waffles, and toast. 

Sandwiches and Burgers

To make a sandwich low-carb, hold the bread or bun and any sauces with sugar, such as ketchup.

Instead of fries or onion rings on the side, ask for a side salad with no croutons. Blue cheese, Caesar, and oil and vinegar are low-carb dressing options.

Denny's website doesn't list nutritional values for sandwiches and burgers without the buns. But some of the possibilities include:

  • Bacon avocado cheeseburger
  • Double cheeseburger
  • Slamburger (includes bacon, egg, and cheese)

You can also build your own burger. Request one or two patties (without a bun), along with keto-friendly sides like broccoli or steamed or sautéed zucchini and squash. Add toppings like cheese, avocado, bacon, or ham to up the fat content.

Dinner Entrees

Resist the spaghetti and meatballs, breaded chicken strips, and country-fried steak. Choose proteins without breading, like:

  • Sirloin steak
  • T-bone steak
  • Wild Alaska salmon

Avoid sides like bread and mashed potatoes, as well as gravy. Choose steamed or sautéed broccoli, or zucchini with yellow squash.

Foods to Avoid at Denny’s

When you're on a keto diet, steer clear of these popular Denny’s offerings:

  • Pancakes and waffles
  • Hash browns and fries
  • Onion rings
  • Mashed potatoes
  • All breads: toast, English muffins, burger buns, biscuits
  • Desserts

As for beverages, stick to hot or iced plain coffee or tea. If you’re craving a fizzy beverage with your meal, get a diet soda.

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.”

Denny’s: “Nutrition Menu.”

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