When it comes to dining out, there can be a TON of anxiety and pressure around what to eat, how much, how to track it accurately, and how to make sure you don’t ruin an entire week’s worth of hard work.
One word: relax.
At the end of the day, you have more control than you might think, and if you use some of these simple tips, you’ll be able to dine out without worrying about much about sabotaging your fat loss goals, and you’ll still make progress.
Tip #1: Think Ahead And Work Backward
If you know you’re going out for a big dinner with friends, or you’re sure to have some drinks out with colleagues along with some bar food during an outing later int he week, this is a perfect chance to use this tip.
Since you know you’ll be eating big in the evening, I have my clients do the following:
- Focus on a light breakfast, such as a lean protein source (chicken, beef, protein powder) + fruit is a really good idea because it’s overall low in calories and fat.
- Do the same for lunch, but if you had a shake for breakfast, focus on whole foods like a salad with some meat and vinegar-based dressing.
And then for dinner, you’ll be able to eat pretty much whatever you want and get back on track the following day without much damage to all of your fat loss effort from the weeks before.
Tip #2: The Quick-Fix Adjustment
If you’ve had a regular day of eating, and all of the sudden you need to eat out for dinner, you’ll have to be strategic in your options.
Since most foods from restaurant meals are famous for being loaded with fat and carbs, not to mention the big portions, here’s what you can do.
Look at the menu and find the leanest source of protein possible. Some examples are as follows:
Choose the lean cut of chicken over the fatty steak.
Choose the white, low-fat fish over the salmon.
Then ask (politely) if you can get steamed or grilled vegetables in place of the standard side of fries, rice, potatoes, or other grains typically cooked in a fat source.
Look — this won’t be the most amazing meal, but it will make it so easy to stick with your diet and not having to worry about overeating at dinner time.
Tip #3: Track The Meal Out As Best You Can
Here’s a secret I’ll share with you.
When I’m really paying attention to my intake and tracking my macros meticulously, I will go as far as tracking the giant bowl of pho I love to eat.
And while this process is not as accurate as tracking something you made at home, sometimes a meal out just beats the hassle of cooking at home. And dining out is a great way to catch up with loved ones.
Here’s what you can do.
In your favorite tracker, like Cronometer (my fav) or MyFitnessPal, you would input the basic ingredients.
Think of a burger.
You’d type in the following:
- Hamburger bun
- Grilled hamburger patty
- Etc (whatever else is on the burger)
You’d pick the items more liberally than if you made a lean version of this meal at home.
For example, you’d pick a regular bun, nothing fancy that’s lower in carbs. You’d pick the 80/20 beef, instead of the 90/10. You’d choose full-fat cheese, instead of the low-fat version you usually eat.
And then, once you’re done tracking, you’d forget about it and let it be what it is. It won’t be perfect, but it’s good enough.
Just like when I track those big bowls of pho. I search for ‘pho’ and select the generic version and then choose 4 cups because I get the large every time.
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