There’s no need to miss out on meals in fear of ruining your hard work in the gym.
Here are some simple tips that will help you stay on track with your nutrition while enjoying meals out!
#1 Not all restaurant choices are equal
Although you will find calorie dense low nutritional value choices in most restaurants, some restaurants may have more of a selection of healthy dishes than others. Japanese and Thai restaurants often have an abundance of lower calorie dishes to choose from.
✓ If you do decide to go Italian though, go easy on the cheese and ask for your sauces on the side, that way you have more control over what you are eating calorie wise.
✓ Don’t feel you have to clear the plate either, some restaurants give huge portions and you don’t have to polish the whole lot off if you are full!
#2 How is your food prepared?
Be aware of what different cooking methods involve before you order. For example, pan fried chicken is going to have a lot more calories than grilled chicken and so on. Similarly, words such as crispy, dipped and gratin should sound off some alarm bells for you if you are watching your waistline, as these preparation methods tend to be laden with hidden fat and sodium.
✓ Take your time and read the menu rather than just jumping at the first chicken dish you see, there may be healthier options that you haven’t tried before that may very well become your new favourite dish!
✓ Watch out for words such as baked, steamed and grilled, these dishes are your friend when it comes to leaning out and staying on plan when out for dinner!
#3 Choose your starter wisely
Starters are great to include in a meal because they can be really filling and super healthy at the same time, making you less likely to attack the dessert trolley after your meal.
✓ Consider ordering a soup based with tomato or stock of some form, and ask the waiter to hold the cream.
✓ If you get a salad as a starter, make sure to ask for your dressings to be on the side so that you can control the amount that goes on your food; more often than not, if you leave it to the restaurant to do, you will end up with way more than you want or need and oil based dressing can rack up the calorie count of your meal.
#4 Be aware of the leaner choices with meats
We all know trusty chicken breasts are super lean, but you do have other choices that are great for keeping your calorie count lower on menus.
✓ Consider white fish if you are trying to keep your fat low and leaner cuts of beef – such as a flank steak.
✓ Don’t be afraid to ask for the skin to be removed off your chicken breast too if the dish includes it on, this will reduce the fat content significantly.
#5 Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions about how your food is prepared if you are not sure, sometimes it is not always clear on the menu and most staff have no problem answering any queries you might have.
✓ How a dish is prepared and if there is extra cream added will make a huge difference to the calorie count of the meal, and if you find out extra information you might decide to change your choice of dish or ask them to hold the sauce that normally comes with it.
✓ If you are choosing a pasta dish and want to keep the calories low on it, choose a tomato-based sauce rather than a cream based one and go easy with the cheese.
#6 Watch your sides
A bad choice in sides can be higher calorie than a treat from the dessert menu!
Choose your sides carefully and be aware of some of the healthier options.
✓ Consider picking boiled rice over fried rice and a baked potato over fries – simple changes like these will make a huge difference to your meal!
Take Home Message
Many people avoid meals out when they are trying to lose weight or body fat, but there really is no need.
You can still enjoy meals out with friends and family and reach your physique goals by simply choosing your dishes wisely and being mindful of your portion sizes!