Are weekends your downfall?
You’re good during the week but feel the weekends undo all your hard work?
This blog post will show you how to easily modify your diet so you can lose weight
without having to sacrifice your life or give up your weekends.
For those looking to lose weight, weekends and eating out can be a nightmare.
It’s a change to meet friends, socialise and have a well deserved night off.
But how can you do that with undoing all your hard work from during the week?
Without becoming a hermit and avoiding all social situations?
We generally see two types of people with this problem.
Maybe you can relate.
Meet Sarah – The Restrictive Dieter
Sarah has tried a few diets.
Weight watchers, Paleo, the 5:2.
She hasn’t been able to stick to any them or see the progress she wanted.
They all share a common trend of restrictions on foods.
Banned and permitted foods.
Black and white stuff.
If you don’t stick to the rigid rules, you don’t make progress.
If that’s your experience, it can be tough to understand moderation.
You get asked out to dinner and you have to turn it down
out of fear that you’ll eat “bad foods” and screw up our progress.
Or maybe you go to dinner, but you’ve no idea how to modify your diet.
You only grab a drink, or make a special order of a grilled chicken salad and a water
Scared you might accidentally eat something unclean, processed or high in calories.
Meet Laura – The Binge Eater
Laura’s an all or nothing type.
Overly strict during the week and bingeing on the weekend.
It’s pretty common.
She arrives at the restaurant and doesn’t find her diets normal chicken and broccoli.
So she says – screw it!
Ill order everything.
Wine, all the sides and desert.
She’s immediately filled with regret and guilt.
Totally understandable mind you.
She has to eat and can’t keep depriving herself.
Laura has no idea how to modify her food in a restaurant for fat loss, so she eats out of frustration.
The Solution to Sarah’s Restriction and Laura’s Bingeing
The solution to both problems is moderation.
It all comes down to moderation
Neither of the above approaches is optimal or sustainable.
With the first, you risk losing friends and alienating people.
With the second, you develop a hideous relationship with food.
You will also undoubtedly add significant body fat mass if you’re dieting.
As is so often the case, the real answer lies in moderation.
Lesson 1: Be Calorie Conscious
The only “unbreakable rule” of fat is, you need to be in a calorie deficit.
If you read my posts regularly, you’ll know this.
You need to eat less calories than you burn to lose fat.
Once you eat too many calories and remove yourself from the calorie deficit, you wont lose any fat.
Its a simple concept but putting it into action, particularly in a restaurant setting can be a little tougher.
Fat loss is all about maintaining a calorie deficit.
You also don’t lose fat in a day, or even a few days, so its actually your weekly average that matters the most.
Lets say you weigh 75kg and want to lose fat.
The calories you need to MAINTAIN your current weight is about 2300
To lose fat at a reasonable rate you will need to cut that down to about 1900 to start with.
You will have created a deficit of 400 calories and you’ll be eating less than you burn.
I bet you’re surprised how high that deficit is?
Were you expecting 1200 calories? Typical crash diet diet levels for someone at 75kg.
Anyway, its the average weekly calories that counts and not just the daily calories.
If your fat loss calories are 1900 and you eat that for every day from Monday to Saturday
and then eat 2500 on Sunday, what do you thinks going to happen?
Probably not what you think.
You will still lose fat despite not being in a deficit for one day
Your average calories per day is still 1985.
You still have an average daily deficit of 315 calories.
Your fat loss wont quite be as fast but hey, you enjoyed your Sunday and could probably
maintain that approach for weeks on end.
Lesson 2: Avoid the Single Biggest Mistake People Make
Now ill say straight up, you shouldn’t go over your maintenance level if you’re serious about losing fat.
Its all well and fine eating a bit more on some days if it helps you stick to your efforts longer.
Maybe you bring your calories to maintenance levels once a week.
Through meals out or maybe through alcohol.
Totally fine but going OVER your maintenance level can undo your progress from the last number of days.
You can easily rack up 2000-5000 calories in ONE night out.
Seriously, you can.
It involves drinking pretty hard and eating some crap food but, a lot of people who want to lose fat do that.
Sometimes i do too but the key to achieving your goals lies in the frequency and intensity.
You cant get hammered and eat crap food every weekend and expect to lose fat.
But you can drink and even get drunk every 2-3 weeks and still lose plenty of fat.
This post is about eating out at restaurants or cafes, away from your normal prepared meals.
I’ve been talking about alcohol too because the problems they cause are the same as the problems caused
by eating out in restaurants and cafes.
Ill be looking at alcohol in more detail in a later post.
For now lets focus on not gaining fat while eating out.
Lesson 3: Make a Plan Using Our 8 Steps
There’s a few situations i can think of that revolve around eating out.
Whether its a work lunch, dinner on holidays or brunch with your partner
The advice i give you in this post should serve you well for all situations.
Planning ahead is key to managing any eating our occasion.
We know we need to be in a calorie deficit to lose fat or calorie maintenance to not gain fat.
We also know that restaurants are typically going to have pretty calorie dense meals and with
alcohol and multiple courses involved, you can rack up plenty of calories fast.
So the questions you need to ask yourself is:
1. How Do I Save Calories Before Eating Out?
2. How Can I Avoid Going Overboard When Eating Out?
You’re going to take in more calories than you expect when eating out
That’s a given.
So you need to think about how to balance them out by removing calories
from other meals and also how to limit the amount you take in during your meal out.
Were also going to do it in a way where you don’t feel deprived and ensure you don’t
go way over your calorie maintenance level and avoid gaining fat.
8 Steps to Enjoy Your Restaurant Favorites Without Gaining a Pound
This is actually quite simple.
Your goal is to eat less calories that you normally would before and/or after your meal out.
You basically need to eat less in all your other meals.
You have a serious barrier to achieving that.
Eating less than you normally would will make you hungry, so we need to
ensure we don’t get hungry, while eating less calories.
Fortunately that’s also very simple.
Here’s where your focus should lie for all meals outside of your meal out
Step 1: Water
Drink 1 litre per 25kg of bodyweight for the day.
Drink even more if you can.
Once you’ve done that, do it every day because thats the amount you need
everyday for optimal fat loss anyway but if you’re below that level right now
then it will definitely help control your hunger.
For most people that’s about 3-4 litres a day.
A great way to get 3-4 litres a day is to get a 2.2 litre BPA free water bottle like
the one below. We give these out free to clients when they start with us in
the 28 Day Transformation Challenge to help them hit their water goal immediately.
Its so important for fat loss so we do everything we can to help them hit that goal.
Step 2: Protein
Protein is the most satiating food you can eat.
Our goal is to keep hunger at bay and protein is your only man for that job.
Focus on lean proteins to ensure you eating low-calorie and high protein foods.
I’ve listed them below and I’ve also included a portioning system
Keep in mind, were also going to save calories by limiting carbs so don’t follow
the carb portioning part of the image below, read the carb section I’ve written a
few paragraphs down first.
Step 3: Greens
Greens are non-starchy carbs.
They veggies full of fiber and usually green, with a few exceptions.
Greens are low-calorie and high volume foods that along with protein
are your effective tools at keep hungry at bay.
Adding volume to your food will fill you up pretty fast and the more
satisfied you feel after your meal, the more likely you will be to succeed
at limiting your calories to balance out the increased calories from eating out.
All greens are listed below too to eliminate any doubt between what a
non-starchy green is and what other starchy vegetables are.
The portioning should a fist size per meal but consider that a minimum.
Eat 2 or even 3 if you want.
Portion Control Guide to Save Calories for Eating Out
Step 4: Drink a Shake
We know hunger isn’t our friend when were trying to choose food on a menu.
If for whatever reason the steps above didn’t help you and you were still hungry
when you arrived at the restaurant then this should help.
Drink 30 grams (female) or 50 grams (male) of casein protein powder before you eat.
30 grams is one scoop and you should aim to have it about 30 mins before you eat.
Mix it with water or if you want to thicken it up even more, unsweetened almond milk.
You could also use whey protein but casein works better in our experience.
You can buy both of these blends quite cheap online and I’ve linked them above.
You will also need a protein shaker to mix them.
The goal isn’t to eliminate all hunger so you cant eat anything at the restaurant but
just to ensure you’re not ravenous and can control your decisions around food as a result.
Protein shakes are also a great idea for work lunches when you have no control over
the restaurant and are normally don’t have time to eat a protein and green rich meal beforehand.
Keep a few scoops in work or your car to control your appetite and keep your fat loss on track
Step 5: Choose and Commit to Your Food Before Arriving
Most places have menus available online these days.
Some even have the nutritional value of their meals up there too.
The calories, protein, carbs and fats for each meal, listed on their website or logged
in under the restaurants name in MyFitnessPal.
Seriously, check it out there’s loads in there.
Unless you’re below 16% body fat for females or 10% for guys, you don’t need to track
your meals in the restaurant.
For most people above those levels, the steps we’ve gone through in this post will work
well for you but you can still checkout the nutritional value of the meals as an indication.
Here’s what male and female body fat percentages look like if you’re curious where you sit.
Checkout the menu before you go, the sooner the better.
Pick your meal based on what we’ve talked about today, where you start with a lean
protein source, include plenty of greens and limit your carb and fats intake.
Choose whichever meal is most in line with your fat loss goals and commit to ordering it.
Picking your meal before you head out to the restaurant gives you confidence that you’re
in full control of your food choices and fat loss and wont become victim to what sounds
tasty on menu when you’re hungry and ready to order.
If you are below 16% body fat (female) or 10% (male), then you may be tracking food and
need a macro based goal for your meal out.
Give yourself, 100g of carbs, 50g of protein and 40g fat for your meal out.
Take this away from the rest of your daily totals.
Like i said, unless your below 16/10% body fat, then there’s no need to do this.
Step 6: Keep It Simple
You don’t have to go for the most extravagant dish on the menu.
Remember, a chef doesn’t generally care you want to lose weight.
They’re just trying to make the tastiest food possible.
That normally means plenty of calories.
Order a lean protein source like Steak, Fish or Poultry, which most places will have.
Avoid breaded dishes or heavy sauce based dishes and ask for any sauce on the side.
Rather than the potatoes that come with the dish, ask for steamed veg instead.
You’ve immediately saved yourself a lot of calories just with those few choices.
Step 7: Try Fasting
If you’re really worried about going mad on calories, fast for a period of time during the day.
Intermittent fasting is a great way to ensure you have a lot of calories available to eat in the evening.
You’re basically delaying breakfast by a few hours so you have more to eat later.
Now, i DEFINITELY don’t recommend you fast up until you eat out.
You will be starving and order everything on the menu.
But, delay breakfast for 2-4 hours and then eat a protein and greens rich meal.
Black coffee, water and fruit teas are fine during the fast period but no milk or anything with calories.
For more information of intermittent fasting, checkout our post below.
Step 8: Move More
To maintain your calorie deficit, you could also increase activity.
Increase your activity to balance out some of the surplus calories from dinner.
Throw in an extra conditioning or HIIT session on the day of, or day after your meal.
200-300 calories of cardio might give you a little extra buffer.
It’s a good strategy to use infrequently, just don’t get into a habit of doing it regularly.
The whole ‘more exercise = more food’ mentality can become a little excessive.
Do You Really Want It?
Only eat foods you actually want.
Have a plan and don’t leave the restaurant full of regret.
You can eat out regularly and lose fat but you need to be realistic and have a plan.
Just because there’s bread on the table doesn’t mean you have to eat it.
Tell the waiter/waitress to take it away if nobody else wants it.
If all your friends are ordering greasy curries, creamy pastas, pizzas etc and you haven’t
planned to have something like that, then stick to your guns and order what you planned.
You can still eat pizza sometimes but they key is, its sometimes, not all the time.
Eat for enjoyment, not to make yourself feel stuffed.
The bottom line is that once you’re sensible, you can eat out regularly
and still make very good fat loss progress.
Living life and being sociable is what it’s all about.
Flexible dieting like this allows us do that.
You just need to be realistic with your expectations and know that it all
comes down to calories and the deficit you create each week.
If you’re not losing enough fat, you’ve probably been a little too flexible and
need to make more sensible decisions around your food and use the food
portioning guide above more often.
Your diet should be unrestricted in its approach, yet strict in terms of compliance.
Something you can stick to that helps you make progress.
Thats exactly how we setup our clients.
We help them find the balance between life and results.
If they want to go out for a meal – they absolutely can.
Hell, they can eat out every night of the week if they really want to.
Provided they’re make sensible decisions and making progress to their goals.
If you want help finding that balance then we’re here to help.
Talk to us on the phone and see how we can help you.
Click here to contact us and well call you to have a chat about your nutrition.
Phil “Had the best haddock in Dalkey last weekend” Giffney
Personal Trainer Dublin and Body Transformation Gym in Blackrock, Dublin
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