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How to Stick to Your Macros When Eating At Restaurants

Today we're going to talk about how to manage eating at restaurants and still sticking with your macros.

We've all been there. You're doing really well with your macros and making some serious progress... but then it happens. A friend or family member asks us to go out for a special occasion; a birthday, anniversary, or work party.

The doubt creeps in...

  • "How am I going to track accurately?"
  • "I'm not sure I trust myself to go out and make the right choices."
  • "All of my friends, family and co-workers will think I'm crazy for bringing my scale out and measuring everything!"
  • "I'm going to lose all of my progress with this one dinner."

We’re here to tell you that there are great ways to manage these events without completely blowing your macros:

  1. Research the restaurant in advance (if you can)

    Most restaurants provide nutritional information online, especially big chains and franchises. A quick google search and you should be able to find many without much difficulty. If you can’t find your restaurant online, find one that’s similar. Going to a wood fire pizza joint? Try California Kitchen Pizza and adjust your macros to meals similar to theirs.

  2. Plan out what you want before you arrive

    If you’ve been dying for a burger for a few days, or a good Italian dish, put that meal into My Fitness Pal first and work your day around it. You can make almost anything fit if you plan that food out first and then fill in the gaps with the rest of your macros.

  3. Eat lean proteins and low fat throughout the day

    If you know you’re going to spend a large amount of your macros on a carb and fat heavy meal, eat lean protein, vegetable and low fat items throughout the day to accommodate for that meal.

  4. Ask your waiter how many ounces of meat are being cooked and how it’s prepared

    Most restaurants know exactly how much they’re serving in their dishes, whether it’s ounces in fish, meat, or the amount of eggs in an omelette. Then also ask them if it’s prepared in butter or any other sauces. If possible, ask them to cook it without those additives and either grilled or broiled.

  5. To scale or not to scale?

    Some people just are not comfortable bringing out a scale in front of their friends. Some people are just accustomed to that way of life and bring it with them wherever they go. Ultimately, it’s going to be up to you on whether or not you’d like to whip out your scale.

    If you're training for a specific meet or competition and must be very strict with your macros in order to make weight, then yes you should be weighing all of your food if you decide to go out to eat. This is not the time to be estimating much of anything.

    For most people, although estimating may not be 100% accurate, it is better than not tracking at all. A few extra carbs and fats on one day are not going to derail your progress entirely.

Flexible dieting is flexible. You should be able to enjoy a meal with your friends, family and co-workers without being obsessed about totally derailing your progress. Estimate as much as possible, keep everything in moderation and eat only until you’re full. Enjoy the meal and turn the focus to the people you are with, rather than obsessing over whether or not this one event will totally ruin your program!

Do you have any tips for eating out at restaurants that work for you? Share them in the comments below.