Eating out is such a treat. There’s nothing like going on a fun date night or having brunch out with your best friends. The only downside is that it’s really easy to indulge and throw a healthy mindset out the window when you’re treating yourself to a meal out. Restaurant meals are often packed with sugar, butter and sodium and if you’re not careful, the calories can skyrocket quickly. If you’re wondering how to eat out without gaining weight, take a look at our best tips and hacks!
How to Eat Out without Gaining Weight
1. Check the Menu Before You Go
Preparation is one of the key things you can do to keep your health and calories in check when eating out. Take a look at the menu online before getting to the restaurant so you can plan out what you’ll order. If you end up getting to the restaurant super hungry, you may end up quickly ordering something unhealthy without seeing other options because you just want to get the order in. Also, let’s say there’s a dessert you see that you really want to try, you can plan in advance so you know to cut back during other parts of the meal.
2. Prioritize Protein
Eating protein reduces your appetite and makes you eat fewer calories. When you eat out, make sure protein is the star of your meal. Increasing your protein boosts your metabolism, curbs hunger and helps you feel full and satisfied, which may help with portion control. You also burn a few extra calories when you eat protein because your body has to work harder to chew and digest the food. Some of the best high protein foods include lean beef, chicken, fish, beans, tofu, and quinoa.
3. Ask for Sauces and Dressings on the Side
Sauces and dressings can add calories, fat and sodium to your meal. They’re often loaded on foods like salads, power bowls and even protein sources. Stay away from heavy, creamy dressings as much as possible. Ask for sauces and dressings on the side and use just enough to get some flavour.
4. Chew Your Food and Eat Slowly
We all know the feeling of being so hungry that we scarf down our food, but devouring our meals is not the way we should be eating. Eating too quickly often leads to overeating as your brain doesn’t have enough time to receive fullness signals. Chewing your food thoroughly and eating slowly promotes better digestion as well as weight loss and maintenance.
5. Choose Your Side Carefully
The main element of the meal isn’t always the problem. Many times, it can be the sides. French fries, mashed potatoes and rice can add tons of calories to your meal. Swap out heavy, starchy sides for lighter, healthier ones. This is a good way to load up on fruits at brunch or veggies at lunch and dinner.
6. Order Neat Drinks Versus Cocktails
If you feel like having a drink or two while you’re out for dinner, opt for a neat drink over a cocktail. A “neat” drink is a pure spirit, with no other ingredients or mixers added. This is the most calorie-conscious way to drink alcohol as the mixers are what add the calories to drinks. Simple syrups and sugary drink mixes like cranberry juice and soda up the sugar content and are essentially empty calories.
7. Stick to Water
If you don’t drink alcohol or choose not to when you eat out, stick to water rather than ordering juice or soda. Drinking water before meals can help fill you up, eat less and lose weight. Being even the slightest bit dehydrated can lead to fatigue and cravings, so drink lots of water when you’re out to eat. If you want to make your water a bit more special, order sparkling water with some lemon or berries.
8. Avoid Fast and Fried Foods
When food is fried, deep-fried or breaded, fat and calories quickly add up, so if you’re trying to avoid gaining weight, avoid these foods when eating out. Opt for foods that are steamed, baked, broiled, grilled and roasted for healthy alternatives that will make you feel great!
9. Make Healthy Choices
When eating out, focus on foods that are high in nutrients and low in calories like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. These foods are loaded with health benefits and don’t add unnecessary calories. Foods like vegetables have relatively few calories per serving, so you can eat larger portions without feeling guilt. Order an extra serving of salad or vegetables to make your meal healthier.
10. Share or Skip Starters and Desserts
Starters and desserts are fun to order when you go out to eat, but are they really necessary? If you’re not that hungry or don’t see anything that really sticks out to you on the starter or dessert menu, skip it. Otherwise, share your starters and dessert with the group to cut portion sizes and calories.
11. Boost Your Physical Activity
Exercising is part of a healthy lifestyle and should be part of your regular weekly routine, especially if you eat out a lot. Working out not only helps you lose weight, but also reduces your risk of disease, improves mental health and strengthens your bones and muscles. Although exercising doesn’t mean you can get away with eating anything and everything, it’s a great way to allow yourself to indulge a little more without feeling guilt. Try to take a few extra thousand steps on the days you’re eating out and add in additional workouts.
Eating out doesn’t have to mean your health goes out the window. Stick to these tips and enjoy eating out in the healthiest way possible.
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