Can I eat out and still lose weight?
Eating out and takeaways are often cited as the enemy for fat loss- One study showed that on average, a restaurant meal contains 1128 calories- over half the 2000 government recommended calories for A DAY for a woman (1). Studies also show that we are naturally pretty appalling at regulating our portions; quite simply, the more that is on the plate, the more we eat! (2).
Restaurants are often designed to encourage overeating- with noise, sound and light all manipulated to maximise consumption and/or spending, and prompts , in the form of advertisements, feed in to your subconscious to make you crave and consume these foods are everywhere, with food companies paying through the nose to do so.
This is made even worse by the fact that accessibility to unhealthy takeaways is greater than ever ; even living close to a fast food restaurant can increase your risk of obesity ( 3).
Whilst cooking your own meals is, in my opinion, an essential part of successfully losing fat, there are of course going to be times where you have to, and of course want to, eat out.
This blog forms part one of two blogs on restaurants and take-aways- this week I am giving you some quick and simple tips to enable you to lead a balanced ( and social!) life , without ruining your progress.
1. Plan ahead- if you decide what you are eating ahead of time, this will make it a hell of a lot easier not to get side tracked into impulsively ordering something unhealthy. I help my clients plan what to eat when a meal out is in the diary, and my second blog in this series will cover a few good options from restaurant chains
2. Portion control. Each meal should contain
· A portion of protein the size of your fist or your hand in karate chop position
· 3 portions of fat and carbs in any combination, with a portion of fat being the size of your thumb, and the carb portion the size of a cupped handful. For each alcoholic drink , (and that’s based on the lower calorie options I mention below) I suggest removing one of these portions
· Unlimited fibrous vegetables (with no butter)
3. Eat protein and veggies first, and order an extra side of vegetables or salad- with no dressing or butter. These foods are higher in fibre. Aside from the health benefits of fibre, they also take longer to consume but also keep you fuller for longer . This means you are likely to eat far less of the fat and carbohydrate portions of these meals
4. Alcohol- minimise , as this influences poor decisions- it increases cravings for high carb and fat foods, reduces willpower, and reduces the perception of fullness. If you are going to have a drink, I would suggest this is consumed after your meal. The best drinks to have are spirits such as vodka, gin and Bacardi, with diet mixers, prosecco/champagne and small (125ml) red or white wines.
5. Avoid sharers- if you have a lot of food and choices in front of you, you will eat more, and it is very difficult to keep track of what you have eaten. The type of foods available in sharer dishes, such as calamari, fried cheeses, nachos, potato wedges etc, are very high calorie, and, as they are low in fibre, are very easy to overconsume, without feeling like you have had much food.
6. Be mindful and enjoy your food- it is interesting that whilst many of us believe we constantly think about food, indeed, making approximately 230 decisions around food daily (4) we don’t actually think and appreciate it that much whilst we are eating. Eat slowly and pay attention to the flavours and textures; studies have also shown that those that eat slower become satisfied quicker and eat less (5).
Helping my clients make the right decisions when eating out, whilst still maintaining some sort of social life , is key to adhering to a fat loss plan , enabling you to ACHIEVE AND MAINTAIN that transformation- whether that is feeling amazing in that outfit you bought for your Saturday night, feeling confident on the beach, or feeling sharper and healthier at work or in the gym. If you want to find out if I can help you on your journey, let’s have a chat. I am easily reached via my contact page or social media channels ( links to which are at the top of this page)
1. Scourboutakos et al . (2013) Restaurant Meals: Almost a Full Day’s Worth of Calories, Fats and Sodium. JAMA Intern Med, 173(14):1373-1374. Doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6159.
2. Wansink B and Van Ittersum K (2008) The Perils of Large Plates: Waist, Waste and Wallet. Journal of Marketing (9-26-08)
3. Pruchno et al. (2014) Neighborhood Food Environment and Obesity in Community Dwelling Older Adults: Individual and Neighborhood Effects. AM J Public Health, 104(5): 924-929, doi:10.2105/AJPH.2013.301788
4. Wansink B, Sobal J. (2007) The 200 Daily Food Decisions We Overlook. Environment and Behaviour, Vol 39: 106-123. DOI:10.1177/0013916506295573.
5. Angelopoulos et al (2014) The effect of slow spaced eating on hunger and satiety in overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus