How To Order Low Carb at Golden Corral
Golden Corral is where hungry people go because of the all-you-can-eat buffet, which isn’t exactly a good thing if you’re trying to lose weight or eat low-carb.
The casual dining restaurant offers breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner dishes along with a carving station and a Brass Bell Bakery. They even offer a chocolate fondue station and dessert at any time of the day.
With so many different ways to indulge in the wrong foods or eat too much in general, it can be tricky to eat low-carb at Golden Corral, especially if you’re trying to stay in ketosis.
For this reason, we recommend leaving the buffet alone and eating at home whenever you can. By following a keto plan and cooking your own meals, this will give you complete control over what and how much you eat.
However, if you find yourself in need of food and Golden Corral is your only choice, then follow these tips to stick with a low-carb option for your low carb diet.
Tips For Ordering At Golden Corral
Eating at a buffet is one of the worst things you can do for your diet. It exposes you to a wide variety of foods that you shouldn’t eat and then tempts you with the convenience of adding them to your plate at the last minute.
For example, it’s easy to avoid macaroni and cheese by merely not ordering it with your meal, but you’re more likely to indulge if it’s staring you in the face while you’re waiting in line to get your food anyway. Having lots of bad food options right in front of you is never a good thing.
Because of this, we recommend skipping the buffet and eating at home instead if you follow a strict keto diet. This allows you to cook your own meals using high-quality keto foods and ingredients without worrying about something sneaking into your food that is off limits.
Buffets use lots of sauces, breading, and other hidden ingredients in their foods to please a crowd of people. It also helps keep them shelf stable and tasting good for hours on end.
If you have special low-carb or ketogenic needs, then you fall into a small category of people that Golden Corral isn’t exactly trying to cater to.
Buffets also encourage you to overeat. Even if you stick with low-carb foods, you can easily indulge in your daily intake of calories for the day just by loading up your plate just because it’s a good value. Remember that eating too much at one time can kick you out of ketosis if you’re not counting the hidden carbs in all your foods, and everything can add up very quickly.
Don’t fall into the buffet trap. Use these tips to help you keep it low-carb and as healthy as possible.
#1. Ask questions about your food
Just like when you order fast food, ask what they put in your foods. Since Golden Corral features an all-you-can-eat buffet, you won’t be able to customize your food much as it’s already prepared. Even the sandwiches and burgers are premade.
This means you can’t ask for grilled meat instead of breaded or for your server to hold the dressing on your meat if it’s already been marinated in it or added to your sandwich. Because of this, you’ll want to ask questions about what is in your food before you grab a plateful of something you shouldn’t eat.
Your server should be able to tell you what sauces and preparations are used on meat-based dishes and vegetables. Grilled chicken is always a good option at a buffet, but it’s hard to find. Most of the chicken is fried so that it stays good longer.
If you do find grilled chicken, make sure it’s not coated in sauce. Beef and steak are also good low-carb options, but keep in mind that many of these are coated with seasonings and sauces that contribute to your carb intake.
You’ll also want to be careful with side dishes. Go with steamed vegetables whenever possible, but ask your server what’s on them. Even vegetables are prone to being served with sauce at a buffet. If you’re strictly keto, then you’ll want to avoid starchy vegetables like corn, potatoes, green beans, and squash.
Stick with low-carb veggies such as romaine lettuce at the salad bar and use oil and vinegar as dressing. You can even add nuts or seeds to your salad as most buffets offer this as an option, but make sure they aren’t coated in peanut oil and stick with small servings as the carbs add up.
#2. Look up the nutritional information online
Before you visit Golden Corral or even while you’re waiting in line at the buffet, you might want to check the nutritional information of the food you’re about to eat on their website.
Golden Corral lists the nutritional information of their food on their website, which comes in handy if you need to count your macros or if your server doesn’t know how a certain dish is prepared.
They even have an open where you can search for the food you’re about to eat instead of scrolling through the entire list. For example, if you’re about to grab something with beef, then you can type “beef” in the search bar and all the options for beef will pop up.
You’ll see that a one-half cup serving of beef pot roast contains 160 calories, 7 grams of fat, 8 grams of carbs (7 grams net carbs), 1 gram of fiber, and 15 grams of protein.
You won’t find ingredients listed on the nutritional guide, but you can use it as a tool to keep your carbs in check if you’re trying to stay in ketosis. Look for keywords in the description of each item to indicate whether or not it has sauce added to it.
For example, BBQ beef obviously has BBQ sauce added to it, so you’ll want to go with something that isn’t coated in sugar.
Sometimes you can even look at a dish and tell that it’s been coated with sauce or breaded. Again, ask your server or check the nutritional information online if you have doubts.
#3. Have a clear understanding of low-carb foods before you go in
There are over 150 different food options offered to you when you visit the Golden Corral. This means that you’ll need to have a clear understanding of what foods you can eat and which ones are off-limits before you let your hunger take over and grab whatever looks good.
For a complete list of low-carb and ketogenic friendly foods, check out our complete ketogenic diet food list here.
You can also read our low-carb cheat sheet here in case you’re wondering what foods you can get away with at the Golden Corral.
Generally, you’ll want to stick with meat-based dishes at a buffet, but make sure they aren’t coated in sauce or breaded.
We also recommend adding some low-carb veggies to your plate, such as steamed broccoli. Or hit up the salad bar and add some leafy greens to your plate for added nutrients. As always, skip the dressing or use oil and vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon instead.
#4. Use portion control
Eating at a buffet is a good way to pile more food on your plate than you should be eating. After all, it’s right there in front of you and you pay a flat fee no matter how much food you eat, so why not eat as much as you can?
The problem with this mentality is that you’re loading up on foods that aren’t exactly healthy. And even if you manage to eat your weight in grilled chicken and steamed broccoli, you’re still over consuming calories, which can add up and kick you out of ketosis.
Stick with small portion sizes and eat slowly so that you fill up quickly without feeling weighed down. If you need help, then use your hand. A serving of meat is about three ounces, or the size of your fist.
The tip of your thumb is about the size of a teaspoon. Use this for adding dressing to your salad. Finally, use the palm of your hand to measure out steamed vegetables, such as broccoli, and the tip of your thumb to measure out cheese.
It’s also a good idea to grab the smallest plate possible when eating. Big plates encourage you to eat more. Grab a small side dish like a salad or dessert plate to help control your portion sizes. Whatever you do, don’t go near the dessert tray or chocolate fondue station! The bakery section is also off-limits.
#5. Go there after 4 pm on weekdays or 11 AM on Sunday
It’s never a good idea to eat at a buffet, but if you must go, then try to hit up their all-you-can-eat beef buffet. Golden Corral offers a beef lovers banquet after 4 PM on the weekdays or after 11 A< on Sunday.
This is offered to you in addition to the all-you-can-eat buffet that they normally have. We like this idea because you should be able to find something to eat on the beef buffet if all the meats on the regular buffet are breaded or coated in sauce.
Here are some examples of foods offered on the beef buffet:
- Bacon wrapped sirloin fillet
- Smoked beef brisket
- Signature sirloin steak
- Portobello mushroom sirloin
- Golden delicious shrimp
Of these options, the bacon wrapped sirloin filet and the signature sirloin steak appear to be your best options. The shrimp appears to be breaded, so you’ll want to stay away from it, and the portobello mushroom sirloin appears to be coated in sauce. Be sure to ask your server before indulging and remember to keep the serving size small.
#6. Visit the Golden Corral for brunch
Brunch is served until noon every day at the Golden Corral. You can’t go wrong when you load your plate up with eggs, sausage, bacon, and cheese.
Keep in mind that most buffets only offer scrambled eggs because fresh eggs don’t keep long, and most restaurants add milk to their scrambled eggs to make them fluffier and lighter. Be sure to ask your server if the scrambled eggs contain milk. If they do, avoid them and double up on the meat.
If you’re strict keto, then you’ll want to avoid the fresh fruit. However, if you’re a low-carb dieter, then you can also use the fresh fruit as a substitute for hash browns and toast.
#7. Go with a steak
On their website, Golden Corral mentions that they offer grilled-to-order steak, pork, seafood and shrimp. This is likely your best bet to customize your food as much as you can
Ask to have your meat prepared in butter or olive oil in place of vegetable oil, and hold the breading and sauce. Use salt and pepper to flavor your meat instead.
What To Order at Golden Corral
Because it’s a buffet, you won’t be ordering your food at the Golden Corral. This means that your food options may vary depending on the location.
We studied the foods on their nutritional information and came up with a list of foods that are safe for a low-carb diet. We also came up with a list of foods you should avoid, which is listed in the next section.
Keep in mind that you won’t be able to customize these foods, so do your best to scrape off any sauce or breading that comes on it.
Here is a list of safe foods to eat on a low-carb diet at Golden Corral, based on the carb count provided by the Golden Corral website.
Beef (remember to keep your portion sizes small for all beef dishes):
- BBQ beef and Texas smoked BBQ beef (these dishes supposedly have no carbs according to the website, but it might be a good idea to get something else or scrape off as much sauce as you can)
- Barbacoa beef
- Carne Guisada beef (this is OK in small portions)
- Machaca beef
- Prime rib beef
- Roast carved beef
- Smoked brisket beef
- Smoked short ribs beef
- Taco meat beef
- Sirloin fajitas
- Hot dogs without the bun
- Steakburger sandwich with bacon (don’t eat the bun)
- Bacon wrapped sirloin
- Lemon rosemary sirloin
- Portobello mushroom sirloin
- Carved teriyaki sirloin (this dish is listed as low-carb on the website, but try to scrape off as much of the sauce as possible)
- Buffet sirloin steak
- Carved garlic parmesan steak
- Garlic herb sirloin
- Carved ribeye
- Grilled chopped steak
- Carved honey teriyaki steak (again, this dish is listed as low-carb on the website, but try to scrape off as much of the sauce as possible)
- Smothered steak chops (this is OK to eat in moderation)
- Chorizo and eggs
- Surimi crabmeat
- Eggs made to order (get these over-easy, poached, or over-medium if you can)
- Omelets made with low-carb veggies, meat, and cheese
- Pork sausage links
- Fresh fruit is OK to eat if you are on the low-carb diet but not if you are keto; avoid fruit that is in syrup or comes from a can
Chicken and turkey:
- Spicy garlic chicken legs
- Grilled chicken livers
- Grilled chicken breast
- Chicken wings in Franks hot sauce
- Spicy garlic chicken wings
- Smokehouse chicken wings
- Baked bone-in chicken breast, unflavored
- Baked bone-in chicken thighs, unflavored
- Lemonata chicken
- Machaca chicken
- Rotisserie chicken
- Smothered grilled chicken
- Chicken fajitas (eat the insides only and avoid the tortilla)
- Roasted white and dark meat chicken
- Grilled chicken avocado sandwich (minus the bun)
- Grilled turkey and cheese sandwich (no bread)
- Smoked white and dark meat chicken
- Turkey stacker (don’t eat the bread)
- Turkey sausage
- Carved turkey
- Roasted white and dark meat turkey
- Shrimp fajitas (eat the insides only; do not eat the tortilla)
- Grilled or baked fish
- Baked florentine fish
- Baked with lemon herb sauce fish
- Baked with piccata sauce fish
- Fish baked with shrimp (as long as the shrimp is not breaded)
- Carved salmon
- Salmon lemonata
- Smoky garlic shrimp skewers
- Smoked or sliced ham
- Grilled ham steaks
- Pork fillet
- Smoked pork sausage
- Pork ribs with no sauce
- Grilled, unflavored pork
- Unflavored pork loin
- Machaca pork
- Pork sausage patty, unflavored
- Pork sausage crumbles
- Grilled pork, unflavored
- Cajun double smoked pork
- Italian sausage with onions and peppers
- Grilled sausage with apples (don’t eat if you’re strict keto)
- Real bacon bits
- All lettuce types
- Red wine vinegar dressing
- Sour cream
- Artichoke hearts
- Beets (don’t eat if you’re strict keto)
- Carrots (don’t eat if you’re strict keto)
- Celery sticks
- Grapes (don’t eat if you’re keto)
- Guacamole (contains milk, so eat in moderation)
- Diced ham
- Sliced mushrooms
- Dill pickles
- Pico de gallo
- Squash (don’t eat if you’re strict keto)
- Tomatoes (may want to skip if you’re keto)
- Olive oil
Vegetables and sides:
- Steamed asparagus
- Steamed broccoli
- Steamed Brussels sprouts
- Fresh steamed cabbage
- Kettle cooked cabbage
- Steamed cauliflower
- Steamed and cooked collard greens
- Sauteed mushrooms
- Steamed or sauteed spinach
- Squash medley or sauteed squash (don’t eat if you’re keto)
- Vegetable trio (avoid if you’re keto)
- Kettle cooked turnip greens
Foods To Avoid at Golden Corral
The following dishes are too high in carbs, based on the nutritional information on Golden Corral’s website. We recommend avoiding them and sticking with a safe option on the list above.
- Asian beef
- Creamed chipped beef
- Mongolian beef
- Oriental pepper beef
- Pot pie beef
- Pot roast beef
- Salisbury steak beef
- Beef teriyaki
- Beef enchiladas and quesadilla
- Hot dogs with onions and peppers
- Beef with liver and onions
- All meatballs
- All ribs
- Brisket BBQ sandwich
- Patty melt sandwich
- Shepherd’s pie
- Smokehouse beef flatbread
- Roast beef stacker
- Country style and chicken fried steak
- Taquitos and tamales
- Apple sauce
- Corned beef hash
- All waffles, pancakes and bread rolls
- All burritos
- All cereals
- Eggs and sausage breakfast skillet
- Eggs and sausage casserole
- Eggs benedict
- All French toast
- Sausage gravy
- All quiche dishes
Chicken and turkey:
- All burritos
- Chicken Cacciatore
- Fried chicken and fried chicken livers
- Chicken gizzards
- Chicken legs in sauce
- Chicken Piccata
- Chicken pot pie
- All chicken wings in sauce
- Flavored baked bone-in chicken breast and thighs
- Grilled chicken in sauce
- Orange chicken
- Chicken parmesan
- Chicken and noodles
- Chicken gravy
- Chicken pot pie
- Pulled BBQ chicken
- San Francisco chicken
- Sesame honey chicken
- Spicy Pagoda chicken
- Sweet and sour chicken
- Chicken enchiladas
- Chicken tenders
- All fried chicken and fried chicken sandwiches
- Turkey stuffing
- Turkey pot pie
- Turkey with gravy
- Clam strips
- Breaded fish
- Fried fish and shrimp
- Tempura battered fish
- Butterfly shrimp
- Golden delicious shrimp
- Popcorn shrimp
- Mandarin orange shrimp
- Crispy fish tacos
- Pork enchiladas and quesadillas
- Glazed ham
- Southern style pork chops
- Pork posole
- Pork steaks
- Flavored pork sausage
- BBQ pork
- Flavored, grilled pork
- Flavored pork loin
- Flavored pork chops
- Mandarin orange pork
- Flavored pork ribs
- Sausage and sauerkraut pork
- Flavored grilled pork
- Spicy pagoda pork
- Skillet sausage
Salad toppings and miscellaneous:
- Avoid all sweetened beverages
- Avoid all bread products and pizza dishes
- Avoid all desserts
- All fruit should be avoided if you’re on the ketogenic diet; fruit is OK to eat if you are low-carb
- All salad dressings (except for red wine vinegar)
- Cottage cheese
- Dried cranberries
- Soy nuts
- Mandarin oranges
- Sweet pickles
- All premade salad mixes, such as tuna and chicken
- Southern broccoli salad
- Macaroni salad
- Pasta salad
- Pea salad
- Spinach and artichoke dip
- Three bean salad
- Sesame sticks
- All dressing, sauces and condiments
- Cheese sauce (stick with shredded cheese)
- Jelly and jam packets
- All soups
- Cinnamon apples
- All casserole dishes
- All bean dishes
- All souffles
- Lo mein
- Macaroni and cheese
- All bread dishes
- French fries and onion rings
- All pasta dishes
- All potato chips and tots
- All rice dishes
- Creamed spinach
- Spring rolls
- Taco shells (even gluten free)
- Fried mushrooms
- Peas and chickpeas
- Battered squash
- Fried green tomatoes
Eating out on the ketogenic or low-carb diet is never a good idea. Eating at a buffet is even worse. We recommend avoiding Golden Corral if you can as the temptations to eat something you shouldn’t are many.
If you find yourself in line at the buffet there, then follow our tips to make it work. Try to customize as many food items as possible. Golden Corral offers made-to-order steak and other meats. Get a steak sauteed in butter or olive oil in place of cheap vegetable oil and order it with a side of steamed asparagus or broccoli.
Golden Corral also offers an all-you-can-eat beef buffet on weekdays after 4 PM and on Sunday’s after 11 AM. You could get a sirloin steak and some steamed vegetables for a good price. Stay away from fried foods and any foods that are covered in sauce.
Use the nutritional information guide on the Golden Corral website to help you determine how many carbs are present in a certain dish. Your best bet is to grab a piece of grilled meat from the buffet and make yourself a salad with green, leafy vegetables and oil and vinegar dressing.
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