Eating clean doesn't mean you have to avoid eating out. Here's a list of nutrition tips when eating out at a restaurant.
1. Take One Bite At A Time
Inhaling your food in a few bites, or gulps, results in a larger amount of food entering the stomach at once. This is not only bad for digestion and absorption but it can leave you feeling bloated and with unpleasant gas problems (so I’ve heard). Eating slower will ensure you don’t over eat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that you’re full. If you eat fast or gulp fast then you eat beyond the point of fullness and this leads to unhealthy weight gain. Whether you want to pack on muscle or get ripped, enjoy your food and eat slower.
2. Broiled or Baked?
Do your best to order you food broiled, steamed or baked. Broiling and baking remove fat as the cooking takes place, opposed to frying and deep-frying add extra fat calories.
3. “Take It Away!”
That’s what you say when they bring by the basket of “free” bread. Have your waiter take it away and don’t even bother letting it sit there to tempt you. If it’s not starring at you then you won’t eat it. Nothing in life is “free.” Your belly will “pay” for it later!
4. Avoid Dinner After 6pm
Book early reservations so you’re not ordering a double chocolate ice cream brownie dessert at 10pm at night. You are probably familiar with the theory of eating late causes weight gain and I’m a firm believer in this message. Some experts argue that total calories is the main factor in weight gain and a small amount of carbs in the evening time will have minimal harm, and I agree. However, restaurant dinners usually contain more than a “small handful of carbs” so not only will the excess calories get stored as fat but you’ll spike your insulin causing fat storage while you sleep.
5. Pass The Salt
Although you need a bit of salt for chemical reactions in your body and nerve impulses, you’ll get more in your diet than necessary without even trying. For example, 2 slices of bread supply more than your daily requirement for salt. Too much salt has been connected to heart and kidney diseases. Bottom line, don’t add salt to your food.
6. Steam Your Vegetables
The most nutritious form of vegetables are raw so eat your veggies like this whenever possible. Cooking destroys much of the nutritional content. If you’re in a restaurant, ask them to steam your vegetables instead of boiling. Boiling will suck out 50 to 75 percent of the nutrient value. Considering vegetables are not cheap, this is a horrible way to throw your money down the toilet.
7. Ask For Fruit Or Oatmeal Instead Of TheBread
I love eating out for breakfast. While you need plenty of carbs to grow muscle, breads are never your best bet. Even whole-grained breads are more refined than potato or oatmeal. Always ask for oatmeal instead of all the bread that comes with your breakfast meal. You can often get a side of tomatoes or fruit instead of the starch for cleaner calories.
8. Skip The Appetizer
It’s almost sickening to see how much food the North American culture consumes when we eat out. Do you really need an appetizer? Do you have appetizers when you eat at your home? You do realize appetizers are a complete money grab right? Enjoy a nice entree by not getting filled up and charged extra for food your body does not need.
9. “Undress” Your Food
For example, instead of ordering a grilled chicken sandwich loaded with fat-packed mayonnaise, ask them to hold the mayo and request some mustard instead, which will control your caloric intake. If you’re ordering any kind of meal with sauce, have the server bring the sauce on the side. If you’re really want to cut weight, just say “No sauce.”
10. Never Order Sodas
Always order water and lemon (and lime) or a unsweetened iced tea. I often just ask for a jug of water for the table so I don’t have to wait around for the server to return. After a few “free” refills on soda, you can consume easily over 500 calories, which is a meal in itself!
11. Don’t Let The Menu Bully You Around
Never be afraid to custom order your meal. I’ve walked out of restaurants because they would not honour some simple requests like “no sauces”, “extra veggies”, “steamed instead of boiled”, or would not be “extra egg whites” into my omelette.
12. Save The Alcohol For Special Occassions
Not only is alcohol overpriced in restaurants but it also costs your waist line 7 calories for every gram. If your goal is to get shredded then be prepared to cut back on your alcohol and if you “must” get an alcoholic beverage than go with a glass of red or white wine to get a bit of nutrition. Limit your intake to just one drink. Another problem with drinking more than one beer or glass of wine at a restaurant is that it impairs your judgement – making you likely to order more deep-fried foods, extra bread and a some dessert. Not to mention, tomorrow’s workout is going to suffer.
13. Sugar Substitutes
When you’re finishing your dinner with a coffee, cappuccino or espresso, go for a sugar substitute i.e. fake sugar instead of real sugar. Even though sugar substitutes like aspartame have got a lot of bad press, they are among one of the most tested food compounds in the world and for the most part are considered safe. One sugar contains about 15 calories while artificial sweeteners contain no calories. I advise you to use the famous saying, “Everything in moderation.” The ideal standard to shoot for would be to avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners completely.
14. Table Rules
After a night out for a dinner you can drive home knowing that either 1 of 3 things happened based on how you feel: Leave the table hungry and you will lose weight. Leave the table satisfied and you’ll maintain weight. Leave the table full and you will gain weight.
15. But Yourself An Awesome Cookbook!
Eating out is great but there is nothing like cooking a gourmet dinner in your own home at a fraction of the cost. An awesome cookbook will provide creative freedom over what you eat. Without options, you’ll always cater to the “same-old-same-old” which can get boring and bland.
If you want to spice up your eating and get hundreds of healthy food choices then check out Dave Ruel’s Anabolic Cooking, which is an awesome cookbook and complete nutrition guide for bodybuilding and fitness.