The 3-Step System to Dining Out
Eating out while counting macros doesn't have to be intimidating. The key is found in learning how to plan ahead so you don't end up downing the entire bread basket before you even order. BUT, sometimes plans fail and you weren’t able to plan your meal in advance. That’s okay, I got you.
Here are a few tips to help you staying on track while eating out.
MINDSET MINUTE: Don’t stress. I know that it seems stressful to have tracked your at-home meals all week long and then suddenly you’re going on date night and you have no idea what to do in order to stay on track and not spoil the progress you’ve made throughout the week. Again, don’t stress. Stress causes an increase in the cortisol hormone which can make some people even hungrier than they already were. Now is not the time to feel hungry and rushed. Take a deep breath and know that you’re in control of your choices. Instead of thinking “Oh no, what am I going to eat?” try changing that thought to “This is awesome! I will have a menu full of options to choose from and I get to choose what will help me reach my goals.” See the difference that makes?
Plan A: Plan ahead
Your tracking app (My Fitness Pal, Lose It, Macros+, etc.) has a massive database to pull from which can make your life a heck of a lot easier. Once you know where you're going to eat, take a moment to look over the menu (either on your app, or their website). If you can, try to plan a day ahead or the morning of. This allows for more flexibility.
We all know that eating out usually means an increase in calories so it's important to pre-log what you are going to eat so you can make sure to fill in the rest of your day with the appropriate macros. I like to call this 'carb + fat hoarding.' This means your meals leading up to eating out, will need to be protein heavy and low carb/fat. Especially if you plan on ordering a pasta dish, or delicous dessert. Taking the time to pre-log your macros will make room for your meal out.
Plan B: Choose your meal + log according to the macros you have left
So you’re going out on an unplanned date or maybe you didn’t have time to pre-log your meal out. That’s okay, now we introduce plan B. Taking the macronutrients left over (if you’re eating dinner), and utilizing your macro-tracking app of choice, find a menu item that fits or closely-fits into your numbers. Generally, women have a difficult time hitting their protein needs so this meal will most likely be high in protein and low in carbohydrates.
Plan C: Guesstimate
I understand that not all restaurants are going to offer the macros for everything on their menu so this is where you have to play a little guessing game. There is no need to stress. Search for similar items in your macro app and do your best and try to log the best you can. It's important you stay accountable for everything you're consuming. Even if it's not 100% accurate, it will certainly be closer than not logging the meal at all. This process gets easier with time, I promise.
PRO TIP: Never arrive hungry.
This is a BIGGIE! Don't allow yourself to arrive to a restaurant famished and ready to pass out. This is NOT what 'carb + fat hoarding' should feel like. I learned very early on in my macro journey that if I arrived in a super hungry state, I would consume way more than my pre-logged meal. Whoops. Through trial and error I found that consuming 20-30 grams of lean protein (chicken, white fish, egg whites, 99% lean ground turkey) before I arrived, helped tremendously. We all know protein is slow digesting so it stabilizes blood sugars and helps keep you satiated. If you keep your favorite protein bar in your purse or diaper bag, pre-date night is a great time to consume half of that to stay satiated and calm.
The goal is to shoot for Plan A, but never feel bad about resorting to plan B or C. That’s what they are there for! You can always stay on track to hit your goals. You got this!
I did a poll on my Instagram stories to see where my readers dine out the most and I made you a cheat sheet! If you get to your favorite restaurant and need a little help choosing something healthy: I got you, girl.
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I made a list of healthy recommendations from the nation’s top chain restaurants so that you never feel stuck or overwhelmed.