Similarly with a night out, many of us can feel apprehension and anxiety about eating out whist on a diet, especially if we’re tracking macros and trying to be accurate with the measurements we put into My Fitness Pal (MFP) .
Again this is perfectly natural, but the first step is to NOT STRESS. One meal eating out during weeks of dieting isn’t going to ruin your progress. As long as you follow certain steps to account for the calories you’re eating and don’t go overboard, you’ll be able to enjoy such social events and still be on track with your fitness progress.
I will go over steps like Tracking Restaurant Food, Intermittent Fasting, Eating Higher Protein Early In The Day and Doing Extra Cardio.
- Tracking Restaurant Food
Many restaurants and food places have the nutritional data available of what they serve on their website and/or on MFP.
If you’re eating at places such as Nandos, Subway, Itsu, Starbucks and other mainstream food chains you can actually track what you eat and input the data into MFP. If you’re doing this, just make sure the food fits your calorie and macronutrient goals (proteins, carbs and fats) for that day.
Although portion sizes do vary in these restaurants, the generic data found on their website or MFP will suffice to keep you on track and give you an idea of roughly the caloric and macronutrient content.
The same is applicable for supermarket meal deals. Scan the barcode of the item and input it into MFP. Again, just make sure the food fits your macros.
- Intermittent Fasting (IF)
Similarly to a night out, Intermittent Fasting is a great tool to use If you’re going for food in a restaurant, especially if it is later in the day/evening.
IF is where you push your first meal back until later in the day so you can eat in a smaller, window thus ‘fasting’ for a short period in the morning.
For instance, if you’re going out to eat at 7pm you can fast up until 1pm (lunch time) cutting out your morning meal. Suppress your appetite if need be with some caffeine if you feel hungry in the morning, then eat normally for the rest of the day from lunchtime.
You can use the calories that you essentially 'skipped' in the morning for later on in the evening for when you eat out. If you usually have a 500 calorie breakfast in the morning, those extra 500 calories can be added onto your evening meal if you’re eating out so you can enjoy yourself with a big meal and be flexible with your food choice.
You can obviously auto-regulate the amount of calories you leave yourself, depending on the restaurant you’re planning on going to and the size of the meal you’re going to be eating e.g. a big meal at an Italian pizzeria is likely to be much more calorific than a Vietnamese restaurant.
- Eating Higher Protein Early In The Day
If you’re following the above approach, then eating higher protein earlier in the day (before you go out to eat) will again give you flexibility when you’re at a restaurant.
If you’re planning on going to eat out at most places (Italian, Chinese, Indian, American restaurants) then much of the foods will have a high fat and carb content and in most cases, little protein content (unless you opt for meat options like steak or chicken).
By consuming a large amount of protein earlier in the day means that you don’t have to stress in the evening about having a pizza, chips or other foods that are higher in carbs at fats.
Again, you can auto-regulate the amount of protein you want to leave yourself depending on the type of meal you’re going to eat in the evening.
- Doing Extra Cardio
On the day you’re going to eat out, you can do some extra cardio if you don’t want to do the above steps (or if you want to eat EVEN more in the evening.)
The extra expenditure obtained through cardio can help account for the higher caloric intake of the evening meal.