Who says you can’t stick to your macros and enjoy going out to eat? Not us! A nightly glass of wine, your favorite meals, and eating out with family and friends are all encouraged on Macrostax. And with our guide below, it can be done!
The number one thing to remember when dining out at restaurants is that it’s very difficult to determine the exact macros in the food you’re eating, like you do when you prepare food at home--you know, all that measuring and weighing and portioning. There are a couple of options you can follow, and they all depend on your personal goals and how strictly you are trying to adhere to your macros.
For the strict macro-counter:
For the Macrostaxer trying to get their green thumbs and follow the program very strictly, your best options are to bring a scale with you to the restaurant (some of our coaches have done it before!), or choosing items off a menu in which nutrition facts are provided. You can also order very plain or plainly-prepared items, and weigh or measure them out. For example, special ordering a grilled chicken breast and side of steamed vegetables or plain white rice. This will ensure you are as close to hitting your macros as possible.
For the maro-counter that still wants to be in range of their macros:
Most Macrostaxers might not want to bring a food scale with them to a restaurant, but still want to get their green thumbs for the day. If you fall in this category, we highly recommend you plan out your macros for the day ahead of time, starting with your restaurant meal. If the restaurant has an online menu, look it up before you go so you can select something that would best fit your macros (even better if they have nutrition facts)! Perhaps you end up going with a carb-heavy meal, you can save up your carbs, or vice versa for fats. In any case, it will give you a better idea of what to eat for your other meals. If you’re going to a restaurant that doesn’t have any nutrition facts available, you can still look up the menu and do your best to input what’s in your dish. After all, estimating is better than nothing!
For the macro-counter that wants to enjoy a night out:
Some Macrostaxers might want to fully enjoy their dining out experience, free of macro-counting, which is totally okay as long as this fits in with your personal goals and progress timeline! If that’s the case, enjoy your meal and get back to your regular macros the next day.
If you find yourself in any one of the three options above and still unsure about what choices to make when you’re at a restaurant, follow our general tips below that will help you in any macro-counting scenario:
Look up the menu ahead of time. Knowing what’s on the menu will always be helpful. It makes counting macros a lot easier if you have nutrition facts in hand, especially because you can input these straight into your food log as a Custom Food, then plan your macros around what you want to eat! It then becomes like any other day on the program.
Estimating is better than nothing. If there’s no nutrition facts online, do your best to input the ingredients of your dish individually while estimating serving and portion sizes. It may not be exact, but it will still give you a ballpark. (For example, if you order chicken fajitas, input chicken breast, bell peppers, onions, rice, beans, cheese, and tortillas separately). Keep portion sizes in mind too. The size of your palm is one serving of protein. The size of a closed fist is one serving of carbs, and the size of your thumb is one serving of fat. Pro Tip: Most restaurant portions are double a typical serving size. So meats are around 6 ounces raw, and carbs, like rice, is 2 cups cooked, instead of just 1)
Eat well the rest of the day. When planning your macros for the rest of the day, keep in mind that most restaurant dishes are high in carbs and fats. We recommend eating filling meals during the day that have plenty of vegetables and lean protein so you’ll feel less hungry, you’ll have plenty of carbs and fats left to spare, and you’ll ensure you're meeting your protein goal, which is often the hardest macro to hit. For example, and egg white and veggie omelet in the morning, a chicken breast salad for lunch, and snacking on tuna and a piece of fruit.
Don’t fill up on macros you didn’t plan for. When you’re at the restaurant, try to avoid appetizers if you didn't already plan for them. It might be tempting, but the macros in those appetizers will add up really quickly. Make sure to drink plenty of water while you’re there too (always a good thing)! Make smart choices Avoid obvious high-carb and high-fat foods like cream-based sauces and fried foods. Opt for things that are baked, grilled, steamed, or roasted. For example, instead of a Fettuccine Alfredo (made with heavy cream), go for the Spaghetti Bolognese. Or, instead of fried chicken, opt for grilled chicken.
Need some helpful tips on what to choose by type of cuisine? We’ve listed out our best practices to follow whether you’re going out for Italian, sushi, Mexican, or steak night.