You’re on a diet, which means you are automatically no longer invited to eat out with your friends. Nobody wants to bond over a meal when the only thing you order is a glass of water. Then, wipe away your saliva as you stare ravishingly at their dishes of decadent food. Is it possible to watch your calories AND still make a good companion at a restaurant? Here are some tips on what to eat when you’re eating out on a fitness diet.
9 Part Guide to Bigger CHEST (if clicking doesn't work- right click and hit "Save link As")
Protein is your friend.
Every restaurant you patronize, from fast food to four star, will have acceptable protein options. Whether you have a hankering for chicken or a desire for beef, this choice will satiate your appetite more completely than a measly salad.
However, you want to be smart in your choice of meat and avoid fried foods. If you choose a nice cut of steak, be sure to ask the waiter to 86 the butter in which it might be cooked.
Becky Hand, a licensed and registered dietician, says even a little bit of protein with each of your meals will help you stay full, so you can eat real food without sacrificing your calorie count.
Editor’s note: Mackarels are great, btw.
Look at buffets as inspiration and not temptation.
Buffets are a great place to eat when you’re on a fitness diet. If you can look past the rows and rows of temptation food, you can eat quite healthily. Golden Corral is a great example of a restaurant with many options. They offer grilled meat from steaks to seafood, and a plethora of healthy vegetables.
If you absolutely cannot pass up their mac-n-cheese (no one would blame you), you control the portions.
Drop a small spoonful on your plate to satisfy the craving, and then add some broccoli and green beans. The best part is, you can get a buy one get one free Golden Corral coupon and treat a friend. A dieter who eats real food AND pays for their friends? You’ll never be shunned again.
Okay, okay, salads aren’t all bad. In most restaurants, they can be an entrée in and of themselves. You want to read the ingredient list carefully, though, as some salads can pack as much fat and calories as a double cheeseburger.
Salad dressings are a major culprit in taking your salad from healthy to hefty. Choose a low-carb option like balsamic vinaigrette, or Italian. Avoid the creamier dressings and stick to the oil-based toppings.
To further trim excess waste, ask the waiter to bring the sauce on the side. Dip your fork in the dressing before spearing the salad, and you will get dressing in every bite without having to drown your lettuce.
Veggies, veggies, veggies.
Sometimes you just need to eat some fries. No judgement. But, when you’re eating for fitness, it’s better to avoid the fries altogether.
Instead, double (or triple) up on the vegetables.
Cutting out fries and replacing them with an extra helping of veggies can save you about 200 calories. You’ll fulfil your hunger and vegetables will sustain you longer than fries, so you’ll be able to wait longer between meals.
It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.
Meeting your co-workers after work for happy hour is inevitable, and there’s no reason you should be the odd man out.
In fact, it’s been shown that a shot of whiskey can even aid in digestion, so your body doesn’t have to do all the heavy lifting.
You can still enjoy a drink or two and not have to pay for it with a pound or two. If you are a beer drinker, choose a Michelob Ultra instead of the heavier lager and save yourself about 60 calories.
At only two carbs per bottle, you can partake and not feel guilty. If you prefer a harder drink, a good rule of thumb is to stick with clear liquors. These have less sugars than darker alcohol and if you mix them with diet drinks or club soda, you can be happy about happy hour, even at weigh-in the next morning.
Plan your meal ahead of time.
Thanks to the digital world we live in, choosing what to eat can happen before you even leave your house. Too many times you find yourself caught up in the moment of making your food choice.
The server is staring at you, your friends are waiting, and the grilled salmon and seasonal veggies pale in comparison to that chicken fried steak on the opposite page. Now you can make your choice before arriving at the restaurant and circumventing that entire process.
Michael F. Jacobson executive director of CSPI ( Center for Science in the Public Interest), co-author of “Restaurant Confidential”, adds that you need to be assertive when ordering food at a restaurant to ensure you get exactly what you need.
He says, “Just assume you can have the food prepared the way you want it. Very often, the restaurant will cooperate.”
If you are on a fitness diet, you no longer need to be a restaurant pariah. Use these tips to help you navigate the choppy social waters of eating out. From picking the right protein, to choosing your meal ahead of time, you can enjoy your experience without feeling (or making your friends feel) guilty.
So, order with confidence and dine with gusto and do it all without sabotaging your fitness goals.