Olive Garden specializes in affordable, Italian-style cuisine, and while this is the reason why so many people love the restaurant, it’s not exactly ideal if you’re on the keto diet.
When doing keto, it’s important to keep carbs to a minimum while increasing fat intake, and pasta and breadsticks just aren’t a combination when that’s your goal.
With that being said, just because you’re cutting down on carbs for keto doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a delicious meal at Olive Garden. If you know where to look on the menu, you’ll see that there are actually plenty of low-carb options.
Here are the top 10 Olive Garden low-carb menu items for the keto diet, proving that you can continue to eat out at your favorite restaurants while enjoying the weight-loss benefits of ketosis!
1. Herb Grilled Salmon
Salmon is a good source of protein, but crucially for those on the keto diet, it’s high in Omega-3 fatty acids as well as being low in carbs.
At Olive Garden, the Herb Grilled Salmon comes with garlic herb butter, which increases the overall fat content.
It does also come with broccoli, which is a source of carbohydrates, but for a vegetable, broccoli is quite high in protein, and it’s cooked with Parmesan cheese, which means even more fat.
In one serving of herb grilled salmon from Olive Garden, there are 460 calories, but only 9 grabs of carbohydrates.
The total amount of fat is 29 grams, and this dish will also help you to get in your protein for muscle growth and satiety, because there are 45 grams per serving.
2. Spinach Artichoke Dip (No Bread)
The spinach artichoke dip is one of the most satisfying appetizers at Olive Garden. It comes with flatbread chips, and altogether, the dish comes to 1,100 calories.
However, if you order it without the bread, the calorie and carb content is greatly reduced.
Without the flatbread chips, most of the 70 grams of carbs are removed, and you can add even more fat and protein to your meal by ordering some mat as a side, such as the steak or grilled chicken.
3. Grilled Chicken (With Broccoli)
Grilled chicken is a classic weight loss staple, as is broccoli. Both of these can be part of the keto diet, and ordering the grilled chicken with broccoli at Olive Garden is one of the best ways to stay on track with keto.
The grilled chicken at olive garden is only available as a side, so this is the section of the menu you’ll need to order from.
This alone will provide you with 150 calories, comprising 5 grams of fat and less than a gram of carbohydrates. When it comes to protein, grilled chicken is a fantastic source, with 27 grams.
To make your meal more filling, order a side of broccoli to go with it. The broccoli is steamed and adds 35 calories and just 7 grams of carbs to your meal.
You’ll also get 4 grams of both protein and fiber. If you want to keep your fat intake higher than your carbs for this meal, just double up on the chicken!
4. Zoodles Alfredo
Alfredo sauce is creamy, so it’s known for being high in fat. However, regular pasta noodles aren’t a good choice if you’re doing keto. Luckily, Olive Garden offers zoodles Alfredo, where the zucchini noodles are much lower in carbs than real pasta.
Order the plain zoodles from the menu, which contain just 0.5 grams of fat, but also only 7 grams of carbs. They also provide 3 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber.
Then, ask for the Alfredo sauce as a side. You can add the sauce on top of your zoodles yourself. The sauce is high in calories (440, to be exact), but it provides 43 grams of fat and only 5 grams of carbohydrates, along with 8 grams of protein.
5. Grilled Chicken Parmigiana
Another grilled chicken dish you can order from Olive Garden while sticking to the keto diet is the grilled chicken parmigiana.
This dish comprises 2 chicken breasts, cooked in mozzarella and basil pesto, both of which are high in fat and low in carbs. It’s also served with zucchini, which is crusted in Parmesan, and tomatoes.
You can order grilled chicken margherita in either the lunch or dinner portion size. If you opt for lunch size, you’ll get a smaller portion (380 calories with 10 grams of carbs and 23 grams of fat).
Meanwhile, if you get the dinner portion, you’ll consume 550 calories, 12 grams of carbs, and 29 grams of fat. The protein in the portion sizes comes to 35 grams and 63 grams respectively.
6. Side Of Meatballs
A side of Olive Garden meatballs can be the perfect low-carb accompaniment to the other suggestions in this guide.
Alternatively, to make it more filling by itself, you can double up on this side order without worrying about going over your carb limit for the day.
Just one side order of meatballs from Olive Garden contains 480 calories and 40 grams of fat, compared to just 7 grams of carbohydrates. You’ll also get 23 grams of protein from one serving.
7. Zuppa Toscana
Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana soup is not only delicious, but unlike most of the restaurant’s soup options, it doesn’t contain pasta, so it’s keto-friendly.
There are 220 calories in every bowl, including 15 grams of carbs and 15 grams of fat. Protein is 7 grams. Just make sure to order the soup without crackers or breadsticks.
8. Chicken And Shrimp Carbonara (No Pasta)
The chicken and shrimp carbonara dish at Olive Garden isn’t keto-friendly without adjustments. However, omitting one single ingredient from the dish will make for a satisfying keto alternative.
On the classic entrees section of the menu, you’ll find the chicken and shrimp carbonara, which consists of chicken and shrimp along with spaghetti with bacon and roasted peppers in a creamy carbonara sauce.
The main ingredient that prevents this dish from being keto-friendly is the pasta itself. However, the meat and seafood in the creamy sauce is just as delicious and much more suitable for the keto diet.
Whereas the dish typically contains 1,390 calories per serving, removing the pasta reduces this significantly. It also means you get to keep almost all of the 94 grams of total fat while removing most of the carbohydrates.
There’s plenty of protein in the amended dish, too. So, when it comes time to order, simply ask for the protein and sauce without the pasta.
The sirloin can be found on Olive Garden’s gluten-sensitive menu, but it’s also the perfect order for someone on the keto diet. The steak comes with a garlic herb butter topping, mashed potatoes, and a side of steamed broccoli.
If you order with no changes, the sirloin contains 420 calories, 26 grams of carbs, 16 grams of fat, and 46 grams of protein.
However, if you want to reduce the carbs in your meal significantly, just ask for no potatoes. To make sure your meal is still filling, you can ask for an extra serving of broccoli.
10. House Salad (Minus The Croutons)
Olive Garden’s house salad typically comes with croutons, and of course, these are high in carbs. However, if you ask for the house salad without the croutons, you can keep the carbs in the salad lower than the fat, which is important when doing keto.
Without the croutons mixed in, the house salad at Olive Garden should only contain 110 calories. This is great if you’re aiming to be in a caloric deficit.
There will be 8 total grams of fat, 7 grams of carbs, and 2 grams of protein. You’ll also get 2 grams of fiber from the salad.
You can order your favorite meat to accompany the salad, increasing the fat and protein even further. Grilled chicken is a good choice, as is steak. If you’re adding a dressing, try to choose one that is low in carbs and high in fat, like olive oil, ranch, or Caesar.
Looking at the Olive Garden menu as a keto dieter, it’s easy to find yourself overwhelmed by all the pasta and bread dishes. However, it’s actually easy to eat out at Olive Garden without overindulging in carbs.
You can replace some of Olive Garden’s classic pasta dishes with zoodles, and choose high-fat sauces containing butter and cream to go with them. There are also a couple of salmon dishes that are high in fat and protein.
Adding a side of meat to lighter orders such as the house salad can help to boost the fat and protein content, while removing add-ons like croutons, potatoes, chips, and breadsticks lowers the overall carbs.
To keep carbs to a minimum, avoid ordering any alcohol or soda.
Remember that Olive Garden provides some of its dishes in lunch and dinner portions, so be sure to look at the difference in calories and macros between these portions and choose the one that fits best with your macros for the day.