I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with keto for a while now. For those that don’t know, a ketogenic diet is one that severely restricts carbohydrates and keeps protein at moderate levels, whilst dramatically upping the amount of fat that you eat. It’s okay though, because you’ve been lied to your entire life.* It turns out that fat is pretty good for you, and carbs not so much.
Personally I find it quite hard to stick to a ketogenic diet for too long. I’ve managed just over a month before falling off the wagon and stuffing myself with Haribo; what can I say, my willpower is weak and I’m particularly fond of gummy treats. My wife, however, is a massive proponent of keto and in it for the long-haul – this means that I frequently end up eating keto-friendly meals and giving keto a blast for a few weeks at a time.
Why do I do it, even if I ultimately give up? Two reasons.
- If you want rapid weight loss, it’s pretty damn effective.
- The food is ridiculously tasty when done right. I may be craving sugar during the day, but as soon as I tuck into a double burger salad with cheese, bacon and avocado, the Haribo can go to hell.
Keto is catching on, and there are a number of restaurants and takeaways in Central London that are getting wise to this fact and offering super-low carb options. I work in Covent Garden and have had my fair share of low-carb/keto-friendly lunches. Here are a few of my favourites.
Byron – skinny burger
33-35 Wellington Street, WC2E 7BN
(plus other locations)
Just because you’re eating keto-style doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a good burger. In fact it means quite the opposite, and the sooner you realise this, the sooner you’ll enjoy keto.
Byron sell a “skinny burger” – that is, a burger with extra salad and no roll. Add some optional extra toppings (avocado, blue cheese and bacon are a favourite of mine) and you’ve got yourself a delicious treat. Look at that picture and tell me that doesn’t look delicious, I dare you.
Word of warning though – at £7.50 the skinny burger isn’t exactly a cheap lunch option, and if you pile on the toppings as I did above, you’re looking at closer to £12. I choose to look at it as a decadent Friday lunchtime treat… just not every Friday.
Benito’s Hat – burrito salad
Meat (beef, pork and/or chicken), lettuce, chillies, guacamole, hot sauce: these are all good, low-carb, keto-friendly things. The only problem with the burrito is the tortilla wrap. Luckily Benito’s Hat offer burrito innards in a box, sans the carbalicious wrap, and if you ask nicely they’ll bulk it out with extra lettuce. Total cost (including guacamole) is between £6-7.
Burrito salad: it’s a thing.
Pret – crayfish and avocado salad
78 Saint Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4AA (also, pretty much everywhere)
Surprisingly, you can “do” keto at Pret. It may not be as exciting as a bunless burger or a burrito-in-a-box but their crayfish and avocado salad ticks all of the keto boxes. It’s super-low-carb (to the point of basically having none), has a moderate amount of protein, and thanks to the avocado has a decent amount of fat in it. Plus it’s actually really tasty; the crayfish may be kind of bland (because it’s crayfish) but the tangy vinegar dressing and the creamy avocado make this a genuinely delicious lunch option. Expect to pay about £4. It’s not huge though, so you might want to get a miso soup on the side (or even better, another crayfish and avocado salad).
The simple tuna salad only has about 4g of carbs, so that also makes for a fine keto-friendly lunch option. At a stretch you could even go for some of their soups, which frequently have 20g or less of carbs (just make sure to check the nutritional information first).
* Sort of – I was being intentionally sensationalist to make a point. Nutritional science is not exact and many people have many differing opinions. Do some research and make up your own mind. Start here!