Minimize Damage, Maximize Results – Calorie Saving Tips When Dining Out
- Look for grilled, baked, broiled or steamed avoid creamed, glazed as often as possible.
- Tell them you are gluten intolerant/have gluten allergies (or some other currently trendy fallacy) so you would just like salad, various veggies and some unbreaded meat with any sauces just on the side to be safe. Always get sauces on the side so you can control the portion ie. 1-2 tbsp. and ideally, avoid creamy sauces.
- Avoid the bread basket or eat only one slice or a whole grain, not white variety.
- Soups and salads are great starters as they fill you up so you eat a bit less at dinner. Avoid creamy soups and sauces or have a small serving.
- If at a “burger joint”, just ask for the burger on a lettuce bun (many places do this) or just ask for it without a bun and with a salad/veggies. Watch your toppings ie. cheese, mayo, ketchup and other add-ons you can find at some of these new gourmet burger places.
- Don’t order caloric drinks. Have spa water or water with lemon or Perrier, teas, coffee but juices and such are just sugar in a glass that you don’t need and other drinks are just empty calories
- Always ask how the food is prepared and again you can just say it is due to allergies or just a taste aversion/dislike. If it is prepared in heavy oil and salt just ask them for a lighter option by using words like those above.
- For meats look for salmon, skinless chicken breast, turkey, flank steak or filet mignon.
- For starchy carbs, if you have them, look for a baked potato, sweet potato, squash, steamed rice or quinoa, farro etc. keep portions small ie. just eat half of what they serve and double up on the meat and veggies. A good guide for portions for women is two open hands for veggies, 1 fist size for starchy carbs (potato, rice etc), and a palm size for protein (fish, steak, tofu, chicken etc.). Ideally when you are eating out it is best to just stick with a protein source and veggies especially if you have already had 2-3 carb servings already during the day. Just a GUIDELINE 😉
- If you are ravenous going in to the place, order an appetizer like a plate of grilled veggies or a chef salad (if you can get a little bit of protein and fat added to it like a hard-boiled egg or small piece of chicken with a tsp of vinaigrette awesome) to help subdue your hunger before your actual meal comes and your hunger hormones really tell you to devour your meal and then some. *ideally don’t allow yourself to get ravenous*
When alcoholic drinks are in your plans, here are some other tips:
- Avoid fancy drinks and cocktails and go with basics like vodka and water, rum and diet coke, red wine (wine is high in health promoting flavanols and antioxidants which if you drink TOO much will eliminate that benefit but I digress) and don’t go overboard. If you do, just own it and get over it the next day by hitting the gym for some moderate cardio, hydrating yourself, and sticking to healthy nutrient dense eating.
- Alcohol is basically 7 calories of ‘emptiness’ (no real nutrient value or ‘real’ health promoting properties) and can negatively affect your muscle building, strength, fat loss and performance (long term/large quantities) for many reasons. Just know that and also know that moderation in life is key so don’t stress too much about it but keep the above in mind and don’t get discouraged or down on yourself if you feel heavier, slower. Fat loss, muscle building, any of this all, is a lifelong thing so one weekend or even two out of a month is not going to permanently destroy your goals. Just keep your eating in check and stay on top of your workouts. It is also a good idea if you know you are going to be drinking, to be more mindful on the surrounding days of keeping your caloric intake. Focus on protein, veggies and small doses of healthy fats the rest of the time.
- Doing a little extra activity when you know you are going to be adding extra empty calories may help to minimize fat loss damage. A lot of people like to do a pre-drinking-going-out-wanna-look-good workout, and that is an awesome idea. You will feel better and probably want to keep that feeling aka not drink too much because how good you look and feel from your workout, is far better than the feeling of getting drunk and not remembering the good time. New research does show that alcohol after a workout will affect your recovery abilities so be mindful of that if you choose to.
- Have only one drink per hour, for every drink you have some water, and be sure to eat before going out not only to help decrease your chances of a drunken stupor, but also to help you from being ridiculously hungry and doing what just about everyone does after a night of drinking, eat a bunch of high fat, high sugar, high calorie foods. Even better is to stick a snack like a bar in your purse/jacket pocket to help manage your hunger for better decision making until you get home and can eat something better suited for your goals.
- Sleep! The combination of alcohol and no sleep from a late night will whack out your hormones and will make you want to binge or just make poor decisions.