Author; from the experts at Body Science®
One of the best things about flexible dieting is that it gives you the freedom to eat what you want, wherever you want! No longer do you have to avoid social situations that involve eating out with family or friends simply because of your restrictive diet. The only restriction you have is that whatever you choose to eat, it must fit your macros. So, we’ve put together some recommendations that could make this easier and less stressful!
When planning what to eat for the day, try to factor in your meal out first. If you aren’t sure what or where you will be eating, then it is best to save a good portion of each macronutrient. If you are wanting to go all out, then there are a few strategies to help you have up some extra calories.
Reduce your calorie intake earlier in the day by drinking protein shakes or eating small servings of lean protein with low-calorie salads/vegetables. This will help to keep you feeling full and allow you to save more carbs and fat macros for the meal out.
Utilise fasting for a period of the day. This can decrease the window of eating, allowing more calories to be saved. This can be difficult for some, however, making the first option more appropriate.
If you have the option of choosing the restaurant, then try and select one that has their nutritional information available online, through MyFitnessPal or on their menu. Our favourites are Grill’d, Salsa’s, Nando’s, Subway, and Sushi train. Otherwise, if these are not options then check the menu for something that you can easily track. Quite often, a source of protein with carbs and/or veggies/salad will be available and can be guesstimated easily. Break it down into a basic ingredients list or search for something similar using the MyFitnessPal database. Remember, it is always better to overestimate the serving size than underestimate from a calorie perspective. This gets easier with time and the more experience you have measuring portions at home the more accurate you will become at estimating the portions found in restaurant meals.
REDUCE CALORIES WHERE POSSIBLE
Be conscious of the calories you are consuming and find ways you can make your choice a little less calorie-dense. Think about leaner protein sources, less calorie-dense carbs, and reducing fat where possible. Another way to reduce the caloric total of your meal is to avoid/limit sauces and dressings. Drinking alcohol is often a big part of eating out but a few alcoholic beverages can take out a large number of your daily calories. Alcohol is classified as a carbohydrate and is 7 calories per gram, so be aware of this when eating out and perhaps limit yourself to one alcoholic drink or go with water or zero-calorie beverages instead.
If you’re diligent about tracking what you eat there’s no reason why eating out will hinder your overall progress, however, if you find you aren’t seeing the progress you desire or you have a deadline to reach then you may want to do so a little less frequently. As with everything, moderation is the key and if you follow the 80/20 rule, you will be fine. Life is too short to be antisocial and miss out on fun and memories with loved ones due to a restrictive diet. A more flexible diet will be more sustainable in the long run and consistency is the driving factor for results!