Eating out on a diet can be trouble, but it doesn’t have to be! It’s really up to you.
There is no doubt that the trouble with eating out on a diet is most people’s mindset. “I’m eating out, so I’m going to enjoy myself!” There is definitely a place to celebrate but don’t be too easy on yourself. If you committed to getting the best results and following your nutrition plan, you don’t have to throw in the towel when you go out to eat! Plan ahead and be smart.
How to plan ahead when you eat out on a diet.
This has become so easy over the years. With more and more people being concerned about what they eat, major restaurants have responded with posting really good nutritional information on their websites. MyFitnessPal has TONS of entries for almost ALL major restaurants. If you plan ahead, and move macros around (by eating a smaller lunch for example and loading up on protein all day), you will amazed that you can fit in normal entries from most places. So if I know I am going out to eat at a place I love, here is what I do:
- Keep Shakeology for breakfast but limit added carbs (like a banana)
- Higher protein snacks throughout the day (Quest bar, whey, jerky)
- Light lunch, again focused on protein – chicken breast, some oatmeal or an apple, maybe some almonds.
After that, I typically have a LARGE amount of carbs and fats to use for my dinner.
How to modify meals at restaurants when you are eating out on a diet!
Rules of thumb = Often, you can do well with grilled chicken salads (assuming you skip the dressing, cheese, and croutons). Soups can be good or bad depending on the ingredients and the base it’s cooked in (vegetable bases are good but creamy bases often have lots of fat and calories). Sandwiches on wheat bread can be a great choice as well, but be careful about the toppings and condiments. Mustard is a good choice, but mayo, BBQ, oil and vinegar, etc. will really add calories. Also, the bread can be deceiving so go for wheat whole grain bread as opposed to white bread. At nice, sit down restaurants, you are usually safe with steamed veggies of all kinds. Sauteed veggies will be packed with fat though so avoid them!
Chicken, fish and steaks are good too, as long as you look at how they are prepared. Grilled is great. Be careful with other methods as they may use oils and butters to prepare them. You can get a lot of fat and sugar that is hidden in the way a food is prepared. For instance, at my favorite Asian food restaurant, I can turn a fattening meal into a very healthy one by ordering it with brown rice instead of white/fried rice, and by asking for my meat to be cooked “STOCK VELVET”, meaning that instead of the crispy coating, the meat is boiled. It still has the spicy taste to it, but has way less fat and carbs. Try this if you are an Asian food fan!
Fast Food on a Diet
Here is one that probably ruffles some feathers LOL But you can eat out at fast food places when you are still on your nutrition plan. Would I do it every day? NO! But you will be so more successful in actually creating a lifestyle change with your nutrition if you realize you can eat fast food even. Food is not good or evil. It has no morals. But you have to make sure it works for your plan. I will also say that if fast food is too big of temptation, don’t even do it.
How can you do it? PLAN AHEAD again. Get on McDonald’s, Chick-Fil-A’s, or Qdoba’s website and see what fits. What you will see with more fast food is that it really packs in the calories from carbs and fats. You won’t be doing a Big Mac meal with large fries and a soda. But take a look at these options:
- Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken (no cheese or tortillas – w/ Newman’s Low fat Italian) – 290 Cals – 28P/31C/7F McDonald’s
- McDonald’s Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich (no changes) – 360 Cals – 32P/43C/6F
- Chick-Fil-A’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich (no changes) – 320 Cals – 30P/40C/5F
- Qdoba’s Chicken Burrito Bowl (a little bigger lunch – chicken/brown rice/salsa/lettuce/fajita veggies) – 460 Cals – 33P/54C/12F
None of those blow your budgets out of the water either!
Don’t fear eating out on a diet!
Eating at home is always safer, but if you are willing to plan ahead and resist the temptations while at the restaurant, you can survive eating out without the guilt and without the extra pounds that often plague those who eat out!
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