How to Eat at Restaurants and Still Lose Weight

How to Eat at Restaurants and Still Lose Weight

We have good news for you. Did you know you don’t have to stop eating out while following a weight loss plan?

Understanding what you’re up against when you eat out is all you need to make great choices that will keep you on track!

When you’re looking to make LONG-LASTING changes, it’s a game-changer to understand how to navigate the fast food and restaurant scene and STILL make progress!

Restaurants want to make money (surprise surprise), and how they do that is to keep their customers coming back.

Unfortunately, the ways they do that aren’t always kind to our waistlines, but we have some tips and tricks for you on how to eat out and still healthy, so read on!  

How Eating Out Can Stall Your Weight Loss & Transformation Goals

There’s no doubt that a steady diet of fast food and restaurant meals can be hazardous to our goals.

But it’s important to understand how this happens so you can take control of what goes into your body.

Here are a couple of main reasons why restaurant meals can take a toll on your waistline:

  • They serve huge portion sizes that help stretch your dollar and make you feel good about getting more for your money. But often these portions are equivalent to a day’s worth of calories. And how easy is it to eat that huge portion when you’re hungry and it’s sitting in front of you?
  • They add excess sugar, fat, and salt to their food because they want it to taste delicious. Not a shock, we know. ;)

Obviously, oversized portions and excess fat, carbs, and salt won’t help you stick to your plan and achieve your goals.

They can cause us to get too many calories from too many places, and we end up eating too many calories that cause our weight to stay stagnant or even gain weight.

The Solution to Avoiding the Pitfalls of Eating Out

Tip #1: Split Your Portion

Portion sizes of all types of foods in America have increased immensely over the years. At restaurants, they can be ginormous.

And the size of the dishes alone can be the difference between consuming too many calories or just enough.

One of the easiest ways to manage portions is to tell the server when you order that you want half of the dish boxed up to-go right off the bat.

That way the work is done for you before you start to eat, you can enjoy your half portion, and you have a meal to eat for the next day!

Another option is to split a dish with your partner. You’ll save money and save calories your body doesn’t need!

Tip #2: Order Small

Aside from the main meals menu, the kids' menu and appetizer section of a menu offers lots of options that are often more calorie-friendly.

The small plates act as instant portion control, and you can find yourself just as satisfied with these choices as your meal. Another great idea is the side dish section of the menu.

The portions there are even smaller, and the à la carte style allows you to put several items together to create a meal that works for YOU.

For example, you can order a side of chicken, beef, or fish with a potato or rice, add a side of steamed veggies, and you have a perfectly balanced meal!

Tip #3: How It’s Cooked Matters

When considering your options on a menu, choose foods that are:

  • Baked
  • Grilled
  • Steamed
  • Broiled

Avoid foods that are:

  • Fried
  • Breaded
  • Sauteed

These are where excess calories are found!

Tip #4: Beware the Condiments!

Another great way for you to control your calories is to ask for sauces and dressings on the side.

They can be full of sugar, oils, and salt and will add excessive calories to your meal.

Just to give you an idea of how calorie-dense sauces and dressings can be, here are some common ones and their calorie counts:

  • Ranch dressing: 150 calories for 2 tablespoons
  • Hollandaise sauce: 150 calories for 2 tablespoons
  • Pesto sauce: 150 calories for 2 tablespoons
  • Blue cheese dressing: 150 calories for 2 tablespoons
  • Alfredo sauce: up to 200 calories for 2 tablespoons

And don’t forget—it’s rare that there is ever just two tablespoons of any sauce or dressing served with restaurant meals.

Those calories add up quickly!

You don’t have to avoid sauces and dressings altogether, just ask for them on the side so you can drizzle them on your meat or salad.

It’s amazing the flavor you can get with so much less than what’s typically offered.

Tip #5: Make Special Requests

Don’t be afraid to make special requests! Restaurant chefs and wait staff are used to special requests and are ready to accommodate their customers.

Remember, they want you to come back!With dietary restrictions now so common, almost anywhere you go offers set menu options that will address many needs, and if it’s not what you need, just ask!

You can request to replace a starchy carb with more veggies, that your meat not be cooked in oil, or if you see something you want from another dish included in yours, chances are it’s easy for the cooks to do.

Be brave, be nice, and you’ll get what you need!

Go Eat Out!

Aren’t these tips great?! Hopefully, they help you view eating out while trying to lose weight in a whole new light.

With some simple decisions and requests, we’d be willing to bet you can eat anywhere, all while sticking to your plan and reaching your goals.

What are you looking for?