One of the reasons why we love tracking macros is that no food is off-limits, and that includes eating out. That being said, it’s essential to have tools on hand to help you stay on track when dining out.
Let’s explore how to track macros while eating out (or ordering in) and help you achieve your fitness and health goals.
How to Track Your Macros When Eating Out
1. Plan Ahead
If you know where you’re going, research the menu ahead of time and see if the nutritional information is listed online. Many restaurant chains will have this information available, making it easy for you to access and plan ahead.
By researching in advance, you’ll be equipped to make an informed decision that promotes balance while staying within your goals. If you’re eating out at an independently-owned establishment, you can look for a similar option from a larger chain so that you at least have a rough estimate of the calorie composition of your meal.
2. Portion Control
This is my preferred tip! Whatever you order, immediately ask for a take-home bag so that you can pack up half of your meal and put it off to the side.
With average portion sizes at restaurants being larger than usual, you immediately cut your calories in half by reducing the amount of food that you’re actually eating. Plus, you have the added bonus of having leftovers for another day that you can make fit into your calorie goals – win-win!
3. Order Sensibly
When ordering, consider choosing a dish that is high in protein and fiber and low in carbohydrates and fats. Look for items that are grilled or baked as opposed to fried to reduce extra unnecessary calories.
Focus on a balanced plate consisting of a protein source (ex: grilled chicken or baked salmon), vegetables, a starchy carbohydrate, and some fats. If you’re ordering a salad, be sure to ask for your dressing on the side! They’re often a sneaky high-calorie item that goes unnoticed at times.
4. Use Tracking Tools
Regardless of which app you use, it’s important to track what you eat to get an accurate accounting of your intake. With eating out, it can be a bit more challenging, but this is where practice and experience come into play.
Having researched your food options in advance, you should have a rough idea of the calorie amount in your dish. In MyMacros+ (the app we recommend using), use the Fast Track option in the menu to enter the total protein, carbs, and fat in the meal that add up to the given calorie total. If the macronutrients are provided online, feel free to use those!
If only the calorie total is provided, safely estimate protein (err on the lower end), and fill the remaining calories with a combination of fat and carbs. By practicing estimating, you’ll gain a better knowledge of how to estimate calories in a meal without having access to nutrition information.
5. Ask for Modifications
If you’re unable to find a menu item that fits within your macro goals, don’t be afraid to ask for modifications. For example, ask for a salad with grilled chicken instead of fried chicken, or request a side of steamed vegetables instead of fries.
Most restaurants are happy to accommodate these requests, and this can help you stay on track with your macro goals.
Staying on track with your macros when eating out can be a challenge, but it’s possible with a bit of planning and preparation. Once you’ve decided on how you’re going to navigate that meal, remember to follow your plan, and not your emotions.
By following the strategies outlined in this blog post, you can make informed decisions about what to eat, stay within your macro goals, and achieve your health and fitness goals.
So next time you’re dining out, remember to plan ahead, order wisely, be mindful of portion control, use tracking tools, and ask for modifications.