Guess what? Eating out while counting macros is definitely allowed! That’s one of the best things about IIFYM (macros)– it’s flexible. It’s not overly restrictive like other diets out there and that’s because it’s not really a diet; it’s more of a lifestyle change.
Also, a lot of these strategies can be used if your not following IIFYM, but just want to know how to eat healthy at restaurants.
Sure, you may not weigh out your ketchup for the rest of your life, and that’s expected, BUT when you starting tracking macros the idea is that you will be tracking for a year or more. Why? Because any fat loss diet that claims you can lose the weight quick, is just not sustainable. (This doesn’t mean you can’t see results quickly with IIFYM, just that we’re focused on losing legitimate FAT & that takes time, unlike water weight.)
No one who successfully tracks macros does it for just 1 month. This is a long game way of life. And because we’re focusing on the long game, we are definitely going to run into some birthdays, holidays, & special occasions.
It is unrealistic to say that we will NEVER eat junk or have birthday cake, etc. So in order to accommodate this, eating out while counting macros is necessary. And it’s actually not even that hard.
IIFYM is even more flexible than you’d expect.
Your macro nutrient goals are based on one single day. You need to hit those goals within 5 g every single day. But your body doesn’t necessarily run on a 24 hour clock like we do. So even though you have daily goals, you could actually use weekly goals instead.
The only reason we don’t do this regularly, is because it is harder to stay on track. Imagine burning through all your carb and fat grams Sunday-Tuesday and being left with only protein to get yourself through the rest of the week. Impossible. So we break it up daily to help us stay on track.
Check out all the macro basics here!
Now for special occasions we can change it up and look at our macros from a weekly viewpoint or even just a 2-day viewpoint if our “splurge” meal isn’t so huge. Let’s go over how…
Strategies for success:
- Plan your splurge day. If you know you are eating out on Friday, take a look at their menu ahead of time and pre-log it into MyFitnessPal. If that restaurant isn’t in MyFitnessPal and/or doesn’t have nutrition facts online, log it as best you can by either logging a similar meal from somewhere else or logging the ingredients. (Note: if I’m logging the ingredients, I will add in some extra fat grams. Oftentimes restaurant meals cook with more added fat than if you were to make it yourself)
- Budget around that prelogged meal. Maybe the meal isn’t so bad. If you have enough leftover macros, just eat around that splurge meal. This could mean chicken & broccoli style meals all day, but it’s fine. It’ll be worth it.
- Save your macros from previous days. So maybe the splurge meal is too big and there’s no way to fit it in for the day. It’s fine. In this case the days leading up to it you just need to eat a little less. So for example, if my splurge meal is 60 g carbs and 20 g fat higher than an ideal meal, I may just eat 20 g carbs and 7 g fat less each day the 3 days prior.
- Eat less the days following. Maybe you’re spontaneous & you ate that meal (or dessert) on a whim without pre-logging it & saving macros. It’s cool. Just take those macros from the next few days. So instead of eating the 20 g carbs and 7 g fat less the 3 days prior to the splurge meal, I’ll do it the 3 days after the splurge.
- Move on. Okay, this is worth mentioning. If you’re not eating out on the regular & this truly is a rare occasion, it’s not a big deal. If the scale goes up drastically, it’s most likely water weight & it will go back down. Just resume your normal eating habits and this will not be a setback.
- Don’t be afraid to customize your take out. Scott & I were on an Indian food kick for a while. We would order take out maybe once a week. But, we would order our food without the rice. We always had cauliflower rice available at home & would use that instead to save some carbs. Sure, the meals were still high in fat, but they were a little more macro friendly because of that unnoticeable swap.
- Customize your restaurant order. Along the same lines as the previous tip, but you can totally customize your meal at almost any restaurant. This can be as simple as asking for no whipped cream or as awkward as asking for a side of chicken breast and a side of broccoli. I know I said it’s awkward. I’m not going to retract that lol it IS awkward, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do when you have goals. Now, I was a restaurant server for over 4 years & I will say, it’s only awkward for the person ordering. When I took these “special orders” I didn’t even bat an eye.
- Halve it. Simple. Ask your server for a box right away and immediately halve your meal. Out of sight, out of mind. You’ve just saved yourself up to 1000 calories!
- Order water. Even if you order a drink, ask for a water as well to avoid beverage refills. As soon as you finish that drink, stick to the water. It is so easy to rack up calories without even noticing it by drinking them.