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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How to Eat at Restaurants for Fat Loss?

You can start buy ordering 3 drinks, a couple baskets of bread and then some potato skins loaded up with cheese and bacon.  Oh no!  That's right...that's the way to start off if you want to gain fat and slowly destroy your health.

While that may not be how you start things off when you go out to eat, it's not all that uncommon in for many Americans.  What makes it even worse is the fact that restaurants enable this type of behavior by asking you 8000 times if you want more to drink, or more bread or dessert etc. etc.  Of course the servers are trained to do this to increase sales and also to prevent people from getting upset about the fact that they aren't able to gorge themselves sufficiently on a variety of so-called foods that contain any number of things no real food actually contains.

Lets look at an example from a meal that you can order at your local Applebees (this is from their website)

Chili Cheese Nachos 1420 cals, 87g fat 118g carbs, 44g protein, 3970 sodium

Chicken Broccoli Pasta Alfredo 980 cals, 44g fat, 91g carbs, 58g protein, 2130 sodium

Hot Fudge Sundae Shooter 370 cals 19g fat, 47g carbs 4g protein, 150 sodium

Tropicana Lemonade 100 cals 27g carbs, 105 sodium

Totals 1670 cals, 111 g fat, 178 g carbs, 55 g protein, 3305 mg sodium

Lets assume you only eat half of the appetizer and still end up with an absolutely huge meal with ridiculous amounts of carbs, bad fat and table salt!  They also mention on their website that they cannot assure you that any of their foods will be allergen free.  Great!  So you know the food will be loaded with gluten, dairy, soy and all the other cheap and unhealthy ingredients.  The bottom line is if you are going to eat in big chain restaurants you will get food that is of low quality and staff that is clueless about your health concerns surrounding the food.  With Applebees, you can't even find an ingredients list so you really have no idea what they are using.  However, based on a little looking you'll discover they use MSG in pretty much everything - as do most chains.

After realizing what all you would consume if you had a run of the mill meal at a national chain - you may be quite shocked.  This is why, as I've said in the past, if you're trying to lose fat then going out to restaurants should be an infrequent event; because no matter how hard you try you will end up eating things you shouldn't.  Believe it or not, the biggest reason for this isn't even the food available - as even the most suspect places have at least a few things that are half-way decent.  The biggest reason to avoid restaurant dining when trying to lose fat is the social pressure it exposes you to, whether it's from the people you're with, or from the restaurant environment itself.  While you may go in with a determined mindset and the best of intentions the unfortunate reality is you will likely get persuaded to make choices that you'll later regret.  Despite these realities, if you're like many people, you go to restaurants fairly regularly; so here are the keys to eating for fat loss the next time you find yourself in a restaurant...

1.  Restaurant Choice - Choosing the right restaurant is the biggest key to eating for fat loss.  If you go to a place that has little in the way of healthy options your likelihood of success is drastically diminished.  Do a little investigating online and try to choose restaurants which state that they use locally sourced/organic ingredients and avoid chain restaurants as they likely use mass produced food items unless they state otherwise.

2.  Food Choice -  This becomes much easier when you choose better restaurants.  You can't choose a fast food restaurant and then expect to have the finest locally raised meats and won't happen.  As far as food choice goes, stick with meat and plants while avoiding grains in all forms, sauces, soups and any other liquid calories (think beverages here).

3.  Questions and Requests - Many people don't want to ask questions or make requests in restaurants, for fear of inconveniencing someone.  Respect yourself and have enough gumption to speak up in a nice way when you have concerns or special needs.  People with food intolerance's and allergies do this all the time.  Restaurants have gotten better in this regard, though you'll have better luck and likely be more accommodated in smaller higher quality locally owned places than in the big chains.  Hey, you are paying for your food and service so you are entitled to know what you're getting.  If a place won't at least make an effort to accommodate you then why should you eat there?

4.  Accountability -  You need to have someone who will hold you accountable for your food choices when you go to a restaurant.  Thinking you will be disciplined this time, when you haven't so in the past, is foolish.  This should be someone that is at the restaurant with you and ideally someone that knows your tendencies well.  Tell them ahead of time what your plan is and allow them to intervene should you attempt to stray toward things you know you should avoid.

5.  Beverages -  Quite simple and straightforward but yet oh so hard to execute.  If it's not water, coffee (for some people), or tea (not sweetened tea) then you shouldn't order it.  Liquid calories, particularly in the form of alcohol and soft drinks are the absolute enemy of fat loss.  Not to mention you'll notice your tab dropping significantly if you eliminate pricey sugar filled beverages.

6.  Timing - This is very critical as most restaurants try to get you to load up on sugary beverages and bread and then when your blood sugar crashes your eyes get bigger than your stomach.  The key is to order and eat your protein/fats first (this does not include deep fried garbage or any other similar fast food type fare as you should never eat these things if you care about fat loss and your health), then eat vegetables and only after those foods should you eat any starchy/quick digesting carbs.

7.  Portions - The better the restaurant is the more appropriate the portions will be.  You have to break yourself of the mindset that says a restaurant is good if it gives you mass quantities of tasty food at a cheap price.  Places that give you a large amount of food for a cheap price are either not using high quality ingredients or are operating a charity (the latter is highly doubtful).

Hopefully with the above guidelines the next time you dine in a restaurant you'll be better equipped to make choices that will support instead of contradict your fat loss goals.

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