This is when I start to look back on my own childhood and think that my mom was a freakin hero. She cooked, she cleaned, she did our laundry, she drug us around to every sporting event and after-school activity, she was a single mom, AND we complained about everything all the time.
This mom life business sure isn’t easy, and I know I have it a whole lot easier than my mom did!
So when our clients ask us about eating out and macros, We. Get. It.
The thing is, as much as cooking day in and day out sucks, eating out day in and day out, just isn’t good for your body (not to mention your bank account). I’m not saying that macro counters should never eat out. My husband and I go out to dinner for date night and enjoy ourselves on occasion. What I am saying is that eating out makes macro counting a whole lot more difficult.
Even if I plan out my entire day in advance and make “healthy” restaurant choices and menu options where nutritional information is provided (that fit my macros), I still leave a lot up to chance when ordering out. Can I stick to the plan? What if they bring out bread to go with the meal? Did I factor that in? What if my family wants to order dessert? Am I going to leave this restaurant bitter and resentful? And what about these portions? Are they really what they say they are? Is that really 4oz of meat?
Restaurant food is also typically loaded in preservatives like sodium, which can make the body retain water, and the scale will be impacted. Not to mention finding a “macro friendly” restaurant is usually pretty tricky. Once I started to count macros I noticed quickly that restaurant food is not balanced. It’s LOADED in fats and carbs, and usually pretty chintzy on protein. Whenever I eat out it takes some masterful rearranging throughout the day to make up for the meal I eat while dining out. And even at that, it’s usually a meal for birds.
My typical day of eating before dining out looks like this:
- Cup of egg whites for breakfast
- Protein shake
- Slices of ham
I do this to account for all the protein that I won’t hit otherwise. Then I get to the restaurant only to order a small meal that will leave me hungry an hour or two later. When I get home, I’ll have to eat random macros that might include a cup of greek yogurt, an egg, and a cheese stick.
Whenever I eat out I really have to ask myself… Is this worth it?
Sometimes, on occasion the answer to that question is yes, but more often than not, I’d rather eat more food and more balanced macros than eating out allows.
Now, before you go off the deep end and think that macro counting is just NOT for you, I want you to know if you HAVE to eat out on occasion to make this work for your life, there are places that are more macro friendly than others.
- Choose a restaurant that has nutritional facts listed. You will be surprised how many places have all of the nutritional facts on the internet or even in My Fitness Pal. This really takes most of the guess work out of eating out with macros. Program the meal in your food diary and work it around the rest of your day!
- Choose a restaurant that gives you the freedom to fiddle with the macros/ ingredients. Chipotle, Blaze Pizza, and Teriyaki Madness, are all places that let you add/ subtract/ change your ingredients so that they fit what macros you need. This means your entire day doesn’t necessarily have to be out of whack just so that you can eat out.
- If the nutritional facts aren’t available, order items that you can enter into your food diary separately. Casseroles are a macro nightmare. Go with chicken and rice, or fish and a baked potato, or steak, broccoli and a dinner roll, etc. Also, try your absolute best to find a comparable restaurant that does have nutritional values available and use those numbers. As I mentioned earlier, restaurant macros are much more inflated than the steak, broccoli and dinner roll you’d have at home (which is why we encourage you to stick to eating at home as often as possible).
- Do the research and stick to the game plan. Nutritional facts or not, you should be able to get a general idea of what is on the menu before you go. Research the menu. Pick a macro friendly option, and program it in to your food diary. DO NOT deviate from what you selected. Yes, the restaurant you’re headed to offers free bread with the meal and has the best cheesecake in town. No, you can’t have it (unless you programmed it). Saying, “no” is hard in the moment, but the beauty of macros is that if you want something bad enough, you don’t have to deprive yourself, you just have to plan for it in advance!
- Limit eating out as often as possible. Like I mentioned earlier, you will get more bang for your buck if you cook your food at home. You can control your own ingredients, you know exactly what the macros are, and you’re cutting out unnecessary preservatives: sodium, trans fat, cholesterol, MSG, food colorings, etc, etc, etc!
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