Dining Out Without Derailing Your Weight Loss Progress

While trying to lose weight, you most likely do a great job sticking to your calorie target for weight loss throughout the week. Then the weekend comes and you end up overdoing it on Friday, eat a little more than you probably should on Saturday, and then give up altogether on Sunday and tell yourself that you are going to start again on Monday. 

This is called the “all or nothing” mentality. You want to avoid this at all costs. Instead of giving up when you go over your calories, just recognize why, try to plan ahead for the next day a little better, and get right back on track. 

Dining Out Without Derailing Your Diet

It’s much easier to track your calories if you primarily cook all your own meals at home, but understandably you’re going to want to go out to eat at times. 

Fortunately, restaurants do a great job of posting their menus online with nutritional information. When eating out, always look at the menu ahead of time. This way you can plan your day around it just as you would any other meal, and then you’re not overeating due to impulse. It may also be a good idea to cut your calories slightly during your other meals as restaurants tend to prepare their foods in more butter and oil than you typically would at home. 

Smart Choices When Dining Out

Just as you would when eating at home, include lots of protein with your meals. It’s also best to go with meals that are easier to track. Steak and some french fries is a great meal that will give you tons of protein and carbs and keep you full. Many restaurants use lots of butter and oil, so if you order certain items, just plan on adding an extra 200-300 calories as a safety measure. 

Keep in mind that the nutritional information provided on the menu and online is their best estimate of what a typical portion size is. As you’ll know from cooking at home, regulating the amount of pasta you serve in a dish can be tricky. So when trying to calculate your calories accurately, it might be best to avoid such dishes as best as possible. 

If the nutrition information is not available, do your best to guesstimate. If you track your food regularly at home, you’ve probably started to notice your typical meal size. If you order a meal similar to something you would eat at home, you should have a pretty good idea of what the correct portion is. Obviously, they will prepare it differently which will affect the total calories, but one meal won’t make or break your progress.   

Bouncing Back from a High-Calorie Meal

If you do go over your calories or know that you typically do at restaurants, no worries! Just get right back on track with your next meal.

I never encourage people to “work off” their food with exercise, but in addition to the steps above, you can also add an extra 20-30-minute walk to the days you are going out to eat. This will help slightly increase your daily calorie output which will help combat the added calories you may get from eating out. 

Enjoying the Experience Without Losing Sight of Your Goals

The important thing when you are going out to eat is to enjoy the experience. Have a great night with your family, but don’t allow it to be an excuse to completely go off the rails.

Do your best to stay consistent, not perfect.

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