How To Track Macros When Eating At A Restaurant
In this article, we will cover how to track macros when dining out, ordering takeout, and even handling family get-togethers. So, you're hitting your macro targets every day during the week, until suddenly your family requests to go out for Tex-Mex this Friday night. *Given the Covid-19 quarantine time in which this article is written, this is something you won't necessarily have to worry about for a few weeks, but the tools can still be applied when ordering takeout in as well.
So when it is time to finally leave the house and sit down in a restaurant for more than 5 minutes and less than 6 feet apart from another human being (feels strange to think about doing again, eh) use these tips below to help you stay on track with your fat-loss goals and still enjoy LIFE. Because in the end, isn't that really what it's all about?
Ok, back to the food...
1st - Check if the restaurant info is listed online.
Most restaurants publish their nutrition info online, especially chains like Wendy's, Longhorn, and Chipotle. Sidenote: No, the data will not be 100% accurate. Does that really matter? No, it doesn't, because it is close enough for the average person's lifestyle. What if the info isn't listed online? If you will be going to the local pub or hole-in-wall Italian joint, the info may not be listed. Then what? Give up and never ever eat there again? HECK NO, that's not enjoyable or sustainable. Lifestyle, friend, lifestyle. I suggest avoiding entering a super generic meal into MyFitness Pal such as burrito" because you will get back pages and pages of info ranging from 230 calories to 1107 calories. Instead, take a look at your meal and log each individual component of the meal. Hold the groan, friend, it really isn't all that tedious and shouldn't take more than 5 minutes of your day. For example, let's take stick with and break down a burrito: -Tortilla
In something like a salad or an open plate entree, it will be easier to see all of the parts of the meal, whereas something like a sandwich or burrito may need to be opened or cut in half to eye ball everything. Let's start with estimating portion sizes of each one. Again, use your best judgement. I tend to over-estimate for a safer buffer, so if it looks like 2tbsp of guacamole, it's probably closer to 3 or 3.5 tbsp and so I'll log that. In the long run, these small discrepancies will not kill you or your progress.
You can use another chain restaurant for individual components and use similar entries. For Tex-Mex, I would use "guacamole" or "black beans" entries from Chipotle. For pizza, it may be make sure to consider things like crust: Thin crust? Deep dish? Are there toppings?
2nd - Opt for Protein.
When choosing a dish, opt for something that is A) protein dominant and B) - something you actually LIKE and would enjoy eating. Sometimes choosing macro-friendly options will open your palette to trying new foods or choices you wouldn't typically go for. Considerations: -Salad with dressing on the side + grilled chicken
-Salmon (or other fish) entree
-Egg white omelette with veggies
-Grilled chicken sandwich
-Shrimp or other seafood like crab or lobster
-Fajitas (so that you can control portions of each addition)
*Ask for sauces on the side so your dish doesn't come out smothered in 150+ extra calories of butter, dressing, or sweet barbecue sauce. If ordering Chinese food, a simple steamed chicken with broccoli and sauce on the side is healthy enough, plus a few dips here and there won't impact your meal too much.
Macro-Friendly choices by food type:
Chinese - Steamed chicken with broccoli or mixed veggies w/ sauce on the side
Mexican or Tex-Mex - Meat or Fish entree, or Fajitas
Italian - Pasta primavera with chicken, or clams, or shrimp
Mediterranean - Kabob platter or salad with chicken
Japanese - Sashimi, Spicy tuna roll, or Hibachi chicken w/ veggies
Diner - Salad with grilled chicken or Egg white omelette
American - Steak entree or Burger minus the bun *You can also Click Here for a more comprehensive list of macro-friendly choices to order at popular eatery chains like Longhorn Steakhouse and Dunkin' Donuts.
What about homemade cooking?
Again, eyeballing and guesstimating will be your BFF here. If you're eating at Grandma's house for Sunday dinner, there's no need to drag your own Tupperware and break her heart telling her you "can't" eat her cooking. If you see she made a giant serving of lasagna enough for 8 people, serve yourself one serving and log it in as 1/8th. Also, don't be afraid to ask Grandma how she made the dish. This way, you can more accurately account for an 80/20% ground beef over a leaner 90/10%, and she will be thrilled you are interested in learning about her cooking. Win-win!
If you are in the leisure of your own home, add all the ingredients to your recipe in a bowl and weigh it before and after cooking. After its cooked, take the final weight and divide it by the cooking weight to find a serving percentage. A little math is required here, but stay with me, I've got you 😉. For instance --> if I make meatballs and the raw mix weighs 650oz but the cooked product then weighs 500oz, I would take 650/500 = 1.3 to find the percentage per cooked serving. So, if I need to log 4oz cooked, I would log that entry as "cooked" or log 5.2oz (4x1.3 = 5.2oz) for the "raw" weight.
Tips for dining out:
Pre-plan as best as possible. If you know the restauarant you will be going to, check if their menu is online. If not, eye ball your best. Have your cake and eat it too? Flexible Dieting is about living without restriction and practicing moderation. If you know you're going to want one of those Olive Garden bread sticks, pre-log it so that you will now have it to look forward to, rather than getting there and thinking, "I can't have this."
Give yourself a buffer. If you know you're going to go be dining out for dinner, eat lighter early on in the day (opt for mainly protein and lots of veggies) and drink plenty of water.Saving a chunk of macros like 600--700 for dinner time can get you a nice meal & maybe even a drink or some dessert. The last thing you want is to be ravenous as soon as you get to the restaurant. Have yourself some salad BEFORE you even go to tide you over. Better than paying an extra $5.00 for some lettuce at the restaurant or diving straight for the breadsticks to control your hungry belly monster.
Don't stress perfection. Again, getting close is always better than nothing 👏🏻
And that's a wrap!
If you enjoyed this article, drop me a comment what helped you the most! Follow me on Instagram @sydneefit for workouts and more fat loss tips. Be sure to watch my stories for recipes and macro-friendly cooking ideas as well.