Flexible dieting sounds great.
You get to eat whatever foods you want, don’t have to implement any crazy restrictions, carb cut offs, meal schedules, or buy fancy supplements.
All you need to do is eat the right number of calories, and hit your protein, carbs and fats. (And train hard!)
The trouble is, all this is easier said than done.
Flexible dieting appears so enticing, especially to those of us who have followed miserable, bland, boring meal plans in the past, and often, people start off well – eating a wide range of foods, having “treats” that they enjoy and hitting their macros more or less perfectly without too many worries.
However the longer you go with flexible dieting, the more potential hurdles are thrown in your way.
If you could dedicate all your time to training and tracking, it wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately though, life gets in the way, meaning that busy guys can really struggle with staying on track. You might have a hectic work schedule, lots of social appointments, client meetings, and evenings out, and that’s not even taking into account social affairs and family life.
All this means that just like any other diet you’ve tried in the past, the flexible approach gets harder and harder to follow, so eventually you give up, stop counting calories and tracking macros, and just go back to eating whatever, whenever. Ergo – you go back to being overweight and out of shape.
But it doesn’t need to be like this.
With a few simple hacks and the right frame of mind, you can make flexible dieting work no matter how busy you are. In part 1 of this mini series where we look at flexible dieting tips for busy guys, we’ll see how to make eating out easily fit into a flexible diet.
A Guy’s Gotta Eat
If you could make and prep all your meals yourself (or have someone else do it) sticking to plan would be easy. Even if you ate out regularly but chose where you went, that wouldn’t be too hard either. Thing is, with work meetings and entertaining clients, this isn’t always the case.
Sometimes you’ll have to go to places that aren’t exactly macro-friendly, yet in order to fit in and to win business, that’s just what you have to do.
Let’s go into the best ways to eat (and drink) out without screwing up your progress.
Go Bro During the Day
Fine dining and business meals often come with their fair share of rich food, so go “super clean” on the rest of your meals.
That might mean you have a vegetable egg white omelette for breakfast, chicken breast with salad for lunch and just some small snacks of protein bars, cottage cheese, or shakes and fruit, but you never know what might be on your plate later on.
Factor in Alcohol
Whether you like it or not, alcohol is often a big part of doing business. But the good news is that you can drink and still lose fat or build muscle. You just need to factor it in.
Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, but the easiest way to count it is either as a carb or fat.
If you’re counting it as carbs, divide the total calorie content by 4 and track it as this many grams of carbs, or divide by 9 to get the grams of fat.
For example, if a glass of wine has 180 calories, that would count as 45 grams of carbs (180 divided by 4) or 20 grams of fat (180 divided by 9.)
When choosing from the menu, pick whatever dishes sound the leanest. In restaurants chefs tend to use a lot of oil for cooking, so you can almost guarantee having to add in 10 grams of fat for each course from the cooking oil.
Choose Coffee Over Dessert
If your colleagues and clients are indulging in dessert and you don’t have the macros to spare, get a coffee instead. You might look a bit odd sitting there with nothing at all while they’re tucking into tiramisu or cheesecake, so order yourself an Americano.
Offer to Drive
If you don’t want to factor in alcohol, but not drinking is frowned upon (as it often can be by big corporate bosses) then offer to do the driving. Then you have an excuse for saving your macros for food.
Don’t be afraid to request that your meal is cooked or prepared a certain way. If you’d rather something was grilled than fried, or that dressing was served on the side, just ask. The restaurant is there to make customers happy.
Make it a Refeed
Even with the best will in the world, it’s not always easy to make a big meal out fit your plan, especially if you’re on lower macros, so make it a refeed day.
A refeed will typically bring you back up to maintenance calories (an extra 400-700 over a usual dieting day) so work these around the days when you’re eating out.
Learn to Guesstimate
There’ll be more on how to guesstimate macros coming up in the rest of this series, but for now, just know that guesstimating is okay.
Provided you’re not close to a competition or shoot, guessing the macros of a meal is far better than thinking you may as well not bother, and just eating to excess instead. If you go to the same sorts of places fairly regularly, you’ll get pretty good as guesstimating anyway.
If you have to eat and drink out as part of your work commitments, that’s life. But it doesn’t mean you can’t still be in great shape.
All it takes is a sensible approach, and a few simple tips and you can stay on track to a leaner, stronger, fitter physique.