Eating Low Carb In Vegas Is A Serious (And Expensive) Challenge!
I learned a lot along the way, so I’ll share my “trip diary” with you here. You’ll appreciate this if you ever find yourself in Las Vegas on a low carb diet…
In my last post I shared my two low carb airport meals on the way to Vegas.
First, I thought you’d enjoy this Low Carb Before & After Photo. I went to Vegas for a business conference, which I last attended 5 years ago. That’s me on the left, 5 years ago and at least 40 pounds heavier. And me, on the right a few days ago with the same friend. 🙂 Notice the bulge in my waist/hips in the left photo, and why I was wearing a scarf (an attempt to cover up the neck/chin bulge!).
If you recognize her dress, it’s because it’s the same one I was wearing. 🙂
It’s known as the “Famous Meteorologist Dress” and we both ordered it on Amazon: Homeyee Women’s Stretch Tunic Pencil Dress. Here’s mine, in green:
Eating Low Carb is the best thing I have ever done for myself!!
Eating Low Carb In Vegas
I traveled in on Saturday and got in late, and managed to get all the way to Vegas on only 22 net carbs. 🙂 You can see my travel day food diary here.
The first thing I had to do when I checked in at Bally’s was upgrade my room. It cost an additional $30/night just to have a coffee pot & mini fridge in my room.
Fortunately that also included an AMAZING view. 🙂 Not cheap ($30 x 4 nights = an extra $120), but it was a real save for keeping low carb snacks & cold water on hand and making my own coffees – which was cheaper and a lot less of a hassle than going downstairs every single time. And the view was totally worth it!! 🙂
I packed my own low carb coffee creamer. And yes, powdered creamer makes it through airport security just fine! For traveling, I find it very convenient to use Coffee-Mate Sugar Free Hazelnut Powdered Creamer (1 carb/TBSP).
Tip: Call housekeeping to request more coffee and cups in your room. I’ve never been charged extra for this, and I drink A LOT of coffee! (lol) It’s much cheaper than buying coffees while traveling.
I also brought pecans and Atkins Bars along on the trip. Vegas is TOUGH for eating healthy, much less low carb, so I highly recommend you pack low carb snacks to survive on – or plan to hit a Walgreen’s once you get there. 😉
Day One In Vegas…
I got in late the night before, and had a hard time sleeping. It was Saturday night in Vegas and there were fireworks and police/ambulance sirens going off non-stop. I had to be up early the next morning to attend my conference – so I set out that Sunday morning on just 3 1/2 hours of sleep. 😐 Ack!
I was exhausted, fumbling with my conference agenda, and spent the entire first day in Vegas just trying to get my bearings – plus figuring out what I could eat and where.
Bally’s does NOT offer a map of their hotel, or even a list of restaurants on the property. Their concierge is totally clueless too! Which makes for a lot of “hiking in heels” (lol) to figure it out on your own. 😛
Tip: Prepare In Advance For Vegas!
I travel A LOT and have no problem eating low carb practically anywhere. Vegas is a completely different story though, so I highly recommend you scout out your low carb food options in advance!
I learned this the hard way myself. 😐 Here’s how my first day went…
I kicked off the day with coffee, water and an Atkins bar in my room. I was dressed for work (the conference I was there to attend), so at lunch I was roaming Bally’s and Paris in 4″ heels trying to find somewhere to eat a healthy lunch.
I had a hard time finding food!
I was famished, exhausted, and… melting. LOL.
I finally gave up and decided it would be easier to go up and order Room Service. On the way I stopped at a stand and grabbed some turkey sandwiches ($7 each), string cheese and bottled waters to stock my mini fridge. Obviously I would have to ditch the bread, but I was desperate to have something on hand to eat.
Note: Bally’s Room Service STOPS at 1pm, and doesn’t start again until 6am. 😐
The only real Room Service option was to get a burger (with no bun, and no low carb sides) for $23 + Tip. That’s $15 for the burger, and an $8 delivery fee. Everything on the menu was Mexican or Italian, and very limited. Nothing green, except a Caesar Salad – and at that point I needed solid FOOD. 😛
This is when I started having a total meltdown. It was almost 1pm, the cutoff for room service, and I was exhausted and famished. I finally said SCREW IT and just ordered a Turkey Club with fries. 🙁
I got back in my PJ’s and called my best friend for a little moral support and a friendly voice (of reason). She said “Call them back and cancel your order.” I tried – it was 1:01pm, and Room Service was CLOSED. Dang…
This mistake cost me 27 carbs and $32.87.
I DID NOT eat that plate of food. I ate half the sandwich, a few of the fries, and felt sick with myself over it – so I put it outside my door and took a nap to take the edge off. I did what I always recommend anyone do in this situation:
I logged it in MyFitnessPal anyway, and got right back on track. Here’s my entire MyFitnessPal Food Diary for Day One in Vegas, by the way:
Notice the “calories earned from Exercise” lol – geez! 😛
I was not kidding about the MILES I walked hunting healthy low carb meals, lol. That included finding dinner that night. I was determined to eat “lean & green” – something healthy to make up for my crap lunch (and the fact that I’d hardly eaten!).
I found a really nice security guard at Bally’s that offered to walk with me and give me a complete tour of the hotel’s restaurants and food options. 🙂
Dinner, which you can see above in my food diary, was a Lobster Cobb Salad at a high end steakhouse in Balley’s (BLT Steakhouse). It was MUCH smaller than I expected, and this meal cost me $50.
I forced myself to eat it ALL, along with 24 ounces of water – not just because it cost $50 (lol), but because I seriously needed nutrition at that point. GOOD food: egg, seafood, avocado, etc. I still went to bed hungry that night. 😛
I was DETERMINED to get my #$%@ together and have a healthy second day on my trip.
Besides I had put in 12,451 steps and burned 2,326 calories (according to my FitBit) the day before hunting down all my options. LOL.
I ditched the heels and put on my boots for Day Two so I could take that “Vegas Food Hike” again – a little easier this time. 😉
That’s me on Day 2 by the way, in a Size 10 now (yay!!) and DETERMINED to stay there – or at least not totally blow it on this trip. 😛 I’ve worked HARD to get this far!!
At this point I had a better feel for the restaurant layout of the two hotels, so I headed down from the Bally’s Tower for the breakfast buffet at Le Village over in the Paris hotel.
Can we talk about this? People will tell you “Eating low carb in Vegas is Easy! There are buffets everywhere with prime rib, lobster, salads…” (blah blah blah).
Truth: Vegas Buffets are expensive. They are $30-$50 per person, per meal in most places. You have to know where they are, and you have to be in the right place at the right time to catch one.
Fact: Anyone on a ketogenic diet can not eat that much in one sitting. 😉
I was happy to find some real food though, and loaded up my plate at the breakfast buffet ($29). The eggs were sketchy (not real eggs) so I skipped those – and the sausage. I had ham, bacon, strawberries, cheese & cucumber slices:
The strawberries look pretty, but they had NO flavor.
I felt better having some solid food in me. 🙂 At this point though, the conference was not going well – and I was once again feeling exhausted and more than a little frustrated. There’s nothing like trekking all over Vegas hotels alone, walking through loud casinos and crowds of drunks, lacking any real nutrition OR social contact.
I went to my room after the Keynote session I wanted to attend, crawled back in my PJ’s, and ate some turkey with a string cheese and half a pack of almonds – and just took a break. At this point I was OVER the whole Vegas thing and searching one-way flights back home…
I felt refreshed after a rest, and ventured out yet again to find dinner later that evening – this time in flip flops. 🙂 LOL.
I decided on the Buca Cafe Italiano in Bally’s, and ordered a bunless burger for $29.61 (“A burger please, topped with mozzarella & sauteed mushrooms, and no bun – with broccoli on the side instead of fries.”)
I scrapped the lettuce and onion, and chopped the rest of it all up together to try to make an interesting meal out of it (lol):
Monday ended with 1,151 calories, 21 net carbs… and very tired feet. 🙂
Day THREE In Vegas…
For breakfast I decided to just snack on things I had in my room. I was SO grateful for my own sugar free coffee creamer and the low carb snacks I brought with me!
I only ended up eating 1/4 cup of pecans though – and saved the bar for later. I was not faring well at that point, and pretty much just wanted to go HOME. 😛
For lunch I decided to try the Buca buffet, which is where I had the awesome bunless burger meal the night before. Here’s a photo of me on Day 3. 🙂 I was SO determined to stay strong, eat healthy, and NOT let Vegas beat me -lol.
Unfortunately the Buca Cafe buffet was lame. The only thing keto (low carb) they had on the bar was this turkey – and plain salad. Blah. I decided to keep walking, and hit the Le Village Buffet ($30) in the Paris Hotel instead.
I found LOTS of low carb food!! 🙂 🙂
I was famished, so I loaded up three plates. Thank goodness for my past life as a waitress! haha. I got prime rib, ham, pork, chicken (I think?!), smoked sausage & kraut, shrimp, goat cheese, mozzarella, cucumbers, mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus, cauliflower, creamed spinach…
This is ridiculous – I agree!
My third full day into this trip, knowing full well how long it took to get from Point A to Point B in search of healthy low carb food options, walking around hungry and cranky (lol)… I sat there and felt a little stressed – or pressured – to eat as much of this food as I possibly could. And not just because of the price…
It took me FOUR HOURS from the time I threw on a sweater and left my room, to finally have lunch and get back to my room. FOUR HOURS. Partly because Bally’s concierge said the Buca buffet started at 11am (I had called down to confirm).
Not true – it opens at Noon. 😐 So I walked around for an hour waiting, only to discover they had hardly ANYthing low carb on their buffet (mostly pasta). Then I had to trek to the Le Village Buffet in the Paris Hotel, wait in line for a table, then go through a long and slow food line (full of gross people) to get food – and eat it.
Truth: I ate until I was sick. I was already stressed, and I did overeat – knowing I had to go through all of this again the next time I got hungry – so I ended up with indigestion, and just plain old misery.
I only ate maybe 1/3 of what you see on the plates above. The food was cold, and most of it tasted odd – not like “real food” somehow. Tasteless, cold, not much flavor. The best thing on my plate was the creamed spinach. That was YUM. 🙂
I felt sick for awhile, and went back to my room (4 hours later, right) and crawled back in my PJ’s for hours – until I stopped burping. 😛 lol…
I finally got up (and dressed up in my fancy 5″ heels, no less!) because *sigh* I was starting to feel hungry again. 🙁 I was at a point where I DREADED that feeling. The worst of it was that I felt like I had to work so hard just to “do meals”. I’m not used to “obsessing about food” – or even having to think about it that hard!
I tried to find friends to eat with. I was there for an industry event with hundreds of my peers, after all! No luck. I wandered around waiting for a response, and finally just went to dinner alone (again). I decided to try the Buca Cafe Buffet in Bally’s ($30) – again, what was I thinking?!
It sucked. I had (tough) prime rib with veggies:
The vegetables were kinda dried out too. It was gross.
I went to bed hungry for the 4th night in a row, but happy – that I was leaving. 🙂
Traveling stressed, on hardly any sleep at all, and “winging it”… is not a good idea.
It’s one thing if you’re just roaming around Vegas with no agenda. I was there for work though, and on a schedule.
Everything is so spread out, and they strategically put the reasonably priced fast food options (ugh!) on the opposite end of the hotel (double ugh! lol).
If you ever find yourself in Vegas as a diabetic, or on a low carb diet for any reason, I hope my story has proved helpful to you. In closing, here are some tips that will come in handy for YOUR trip:
Tips For Eating Low Carb In Vegas:
- Get a room with a coffee maker and mini-fridge.
- Pack low carb snacks, or stock up when you get there.
- Scout out your low carb food options in advance!
- Wear your walking shoes – everything is a HIKE.
- Plot the buffet times within walking distance.
- Or: Screw it – get back on track when you get home! lol
You WILL get hungry, and you need to know where you can grab a quick (healthy) bite to eat.
Plan your meals with as much seriousness as you plan your excursions and entertainment. 😉
I honestly cannot believe I survived this trip… low carb.
This was a serious struggle for me.
I was in tears more than once, and totally miserable. I could NOT have done it without my amazing low carb family online, and the phone support (lifeline!) of my two best friends. To all of you who trekked this trip with me (virtually)… THANK YOU.
I appreciate your recommendations, support, research & encouragement so much more than I can say!
And by the way…
I came home weighing less than when I left. 🙂
Stay tuned for my next post to find out why I did NOT eat low carb on the trip home, what I DID eat (and why), and what I’m eating now…
My next trip is to San Diego, in just a few short weeks, which (thankfully!) is somewhere I KNOW I can eat low carb – easily. 🙂 lol *cheers*
*Update: See My Comment Here 😉