You’ve been doing really well with your fat loss attempts, getting to the gym three times a week, preparing your meals in advance and making healthy food choices. You feel much better about your body. But you have a dilemma.
Your friend’s birthday is coming up and she’s booked a meal at the fancy new restaurant in town. Obviously, you want to go to the meal, but you don’t want to ruin your progress. What do you do?
Here’s how to eat out without ruining all your hard work:
1) Make sure you’re not ravenous when you go out
If your meal is in the evening, eat as you normally would throughout the day. Don’t restrict what you eat and don’t skip meals beforehand as this could lead you to be ravenous by the time you go out for your evening meal. If you’re really hungry when you get to the restaurant, you’re more likely to overeat.
2) Don’t try to be perfect but make better choices
Socialising with friends is an important part of living a healthy, happy life so eating out should be something you enjoy doing, whether you’re trying to lose body fat or not. To enjoy your meal out you don’t have to make the perfect meal choice, just try to make a better choice. For example, instead of choosing chips as a side dish, choose boiled potatoes instead. If there’s a grilled option, choose that over the fried option.
3) Eat vegetables first
If the dish you have chosen contains vegetables, eat them first. This will ensure that you fill up on high-fibre food. Foods that contain high amounts of fibre are less calorie-dense, i.e. they have fewer calories per gram. This means they fill you up more than low-fibre foods.
4) Watch out for hidden calories in sauces
Remember sauces and condiments contain calories too, so think about what’s in the sauce before smothering it on your meal. Opt for a low-calorie sauce, such as vinaigrette, rather than sugary sauces (e.g. ketchup) or high-fat sauces (e.g. mayonnaise).
To give you an idea of the calories in sauces, let’s compare the calories contained in a 14g serving of two different, popular sauces:
Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise contains 102 kcal per 14g serving[i] whereas Nando’s Medium Peri Peri sauce contains 9.8 kcal per 14g serving.[ii]
5) Don’t have a dessert
An easy way to rescue your fat loss attempts is by not having a dessert. Once you have finished your main meal, ask yourself if you’re still hungry or if you would just be eating a dessert for pleasure.
6) Exercise before you eat out
If you’re going out for a meal to celebrate a special occasion, working out a few hours beforehand can boost your metabolic rate. Raising your metabolic rate means you will burn off more of the calories of your meal as part of your recovery after training.
7) Limit alcohol consumption or avoid alcohol altogether
If you wish to drink alcohol alongside your meal, limit your alcohol consumption to 1-2 drinks. Alcohol affects your inhibitions so the more you drink, the more likely you are to make unhealthy food choices and overeat. Alcohol also alters how your body processes food so, when you drink alcohol at the same time as eating a meal, your body will more readily store excess calories as fat.