In part 1 of this article series on flexible dieting tips for busy guys, we looked at how you can make better choices at restaurants, and still stick to your diet while eating out. Even if that means wining and dining with clients, eating at fancy joints and having to fit in by choosing foods that aren’t exactly macro-friendly.
It’s tough … but it’s doable.
If you missed that be sure to check it out.
In there I talked a fair deal about having to simply pick “cleaner” choices and even estimate macros so you can still kind of track. This isn’t 100% ideal, but it’s a far better option than thinking – “I can’t be perfect, so I may as well not bother at all.”
Estimating macros is an art though, and one that takes a lot of practice, so that’s what we’ll run through today.
Wait! – Do You Know the Macros?
Before getting stressed out about having to guesstimate, is there a way you can find the actual macros of what you’re going to eat?
If you’re eating at a chain restaurant, then take a look at the company’s website. It’s very likely that they’ll have nutritional information on there, and even if they don’t show the entire macro breakdown, many places have calorie information online.
Likewise if you’re grabbing a quick business lunch, you’ll probably be able to see the macros on the pack of sandwiches, bag of chips, or the snacks you pick up.
Practice at Home
You’ve got weighing scales and food at home, right?
Then practice cooking up certain amounts of food – the types you’d usually eat when at a restaurant – then weighing them to get an idea of the macros.
Then all you need to do is eyeball serving sizes in restaurants, equate them to your research at home, and track them like that.
Provided you eat fairly similar foods when you’re out to at home, this works really well.
Learn the Secrets of the Chefs
To make foods more flavoursome, chefs typically use more butter, oil and sugar than the average flexible dieter would, so be prepared to add extra fat and carbs in when you track your macros.
To you or I, a chicken breast is virtually fat-free, but if you order chicken in a restaurant, even the grilled stuff may have been brushed with oil beforehand, and sometimes it will be pan-fried, so be cautious and estimate whether the chef has added around 5, 10 or 15 grams of fat.
Also, it might seem a little crazy, but if you go to the same places fairly often, get talking to the chef and ask questions.
Like anyone who’s passionate about their work, they’ll probably be happy to talk. So ask about how they cook the foods, what methods they use, and what goes into particular dishes. Once you know them a bit better, you may also feel more comfortable making requests for how your foods’ prepared.
Use Your Hands
It would look decidedly odd if you went out with your boss, work colleagues or clients and took your scale out at the table, but you kind of have your own in-built weighing scale already – your hands!
A palm-sized piece of meat like steak or chicken tends to weigh around 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) while a whole hand’s worth of fish (salmon, cod, tilapia, etc.) is around 150g (just over 5 ounces.)
A 180g (6.5 ounce) potato is roughly the size of your clenched fist, and the same fist-sized serving of veggies comes in around 80 grams.
Rice and pasta can vary, as they absorb water as they cook, so the best thing to do is practice weighing and looking at serving sizes when you cook them at home.
It’s much easier to guesstimate something where you can see all the foods laid out and easily estimate the amounts. That’s why you’re far better off picking a dish such as steak with a baked potato and veggies, a chicken breast or salmon fillet with sweet potato fries and veggies, or even a burger, where you can dictate what ingredients go in.
I almost said “go bro” – but hey, a burger or pizza can be easy to guesstimate, so you don’t have to clean up your diet that much just yet.
Servings on the Side
I mentioned this in the last article in terms of just keeping calories down, but asking for sauces and dressings on the side makes guessing macros so much easier.
When a dressing is pre-poured over a salad you have no idea of how much has been used, and being so calorie-dense, it could be 5 grams of fat, it could be 25. So order it on the side and add it yourself if you want to.
Don’t Get Too Worked Up
You’re never going to be perfect with your guessing, but there’s no need to be either.
Even macros listed on food packing aren’t always 100% correct, so there’s no point getting worked up. Provided you’re sensible with your estimating, and don’t eat out all the time, you’ll be just fine.
Around contest prep time, you might want to ease back on eating out so you can control as much as possible, but for the majority of the time you can eat out, estimate and still get lean. So enjoy it!