How to Eat Out At Restaurants and Still Lose Weight
Now, we'll get the disclaimer out of the way first: yes, cooking at home is "better." It's more consistent, you know exactly what's going into every meal and you don't have to put in any extra work to figure out what you're eating.
That being said, losing weight while eating out can be done! Weight loss doesn't have to mean meal prepped foods and grilled chicken every day--you can have freedom while dieting to go out and enjoy yourself once in a while, or even all the time, if that's your thing.
If you do have a goal of weight loss however, a night out on the town can hinder your caloric deficit if you aren't paying attention, meaning that your weight loss may slow.
If you're going out, utilize what we deem as the PAPA Method.
Preparation, Action, Portion, Analysis
If you know you will be dining out, make some early preparations starting with breakfast.
1. Begin your day with a substantial amount of protein and keep the fats on the lower side. Why? Well, generally, protein is the most difficult macronutrient for people to get in everyday. By starting your day with protein, you're ensuring that you'll get enough in for the day, despite what you might eat out later. Second, protein is satiating--meaning that it will keep you feeling fuller, longer. Including extra protein in your breakfast will help you to maybe skip some extra snacking or any hangry feelings you may get before lunch.
(Ideas: Plain Greek Yogurt with some berries, some oats/healthy granola, protein shake, eggs + egg whites in a omelette or scramble)
If you're going out for lunch, think ahead to dinner and if you're going out for dinner, think ahead to lunch. If a lunch out is in the cards, plan your dinner ahead of time. If you know you'll be chowing down on pasta at noon, maybe don't plan more pasta for dinner. Include a decent amount of protein. If you know you'll be headed out for dinner, keep lunch high in protein and relatively light in carbs and fats.
2. Look Up the Menu Ahead of Time: Another way to prepare is to look up the restaurant you'll be headed too and see if their menu is available online. Look through the menu and decide what you might order. Don't always just look for things that sound like they're diet friendly (I.e. salads...), see what the options are, what substitutions might be available if needed and what sounds good for you. If you track macros, add a potential meal into your day so you can plan accordingly. Account for some extra fats for cooking oil and carbs/protein for serving sizes.
You've already decided on grilled salmon, polenta and green beans for dinner and BAM! Your table neighbor has some bacon mac and cheese that looks delicious...
1. Stick to the plan: If you've already selected something off the menu ahead of time and inputted it, STICK TO THE PLAN. Mac and cheese always looks delicious, and it is, but it might not be the best choice if you're working towards a weight loss goal.
If you haven't already selected, you have two options:
1. Pick something that fits well into your way (or can..) and is relatively "simple"