Once you’ve been tracking macros for a few weeks you probably feel like you’ve got the hang of it. You know how to weigh food using your scale, are starting to understand the combos of foods that work together to fit your daily macros, and are feeling confident in your skills! It’s pretty easy to keep track of macros when you’re eating at home because you have easy access to nutrition labels, the food scale, etc. You also know exactly what is going into your food (aka no sneaky oils or butter).
But what do you do when you go out to a restaurant? Restaurants can feel really intimidating when it comes to macros because you don’t want to blow all your macros on one meal AND you also don’t want to severely under or over estimate or feel like you cannot enjoy yourself.
I used to get serious anxiety when I knew I was going to a restaurant because I felt lost when it came to macros. I’ve learned that you CAN have balance and do NOT have to be anxious about going to eatt. This is a lifestyle – so you must be able to enjoy yourself and not feel so restricted. Now that I have a grip on how to figure out the macros for any dish at a restaurant, I feel so much more free and at ease when dining out.
These are my top tips for calculating macros when eating out:
#1: Check out nutritional information online. If you are going to a restaurant with multiple locations, the chances are pretty high that they have nutritional information posted. This is by far the easiest way! Just select the dish you want, plug into your macros for the day, and then plan the rest of your day around that.
#2: Use a similar dish from another restaurant. If the place you plan to eat doesn’t post their nutritional information, you can guesstimate using a similar dish from a chain restaurant. For example, if you are going to a local Mexican place and want to order fajita tacos with beans and rice, you can use the nutritional information from a chain restaurant (like Chili’s or On the Border) because they will have very similar macros. The list below are places that do post nutritional information that will work for a local restaurant.
Mexican: Chili’s, On the Border, Fuzzy’s Tacos
Italian: Carrabba’s, Olive Garden
Chinese: Panda Express, Pei Wei, P.F. Chang’s
Casual American: Cafe Express, Corner Bakery, Jason’s Deli
Steaks: Outback Steakhouse, Texas Roadhouse
#3: Call the restaurant and ask for details. I do this a lot actually and most restaurants are very accommodating! If you check out their menu and decide what dish to order, you can then ask the restaurant specifically about that dish. For example, you might ask them how many ounces of meat they use, how much oil they cook in, or what type of bread they have. After getting that information, you can create the meal in My Fitness Pal and get a pretty close guess on the macros. It likely won’t be 100% accurate, but it’ll be close enough.
#4: Look at the menu/Yelp photos and guesstimate for yourself. Similar to the tip above, but without actually having to speak to the restaurant. You can look up Yelp photos that other people post to get a good estimate on the portion sizes for each dish, then estimate based on what you see.
#5: Search in My Fitness Pal. When people take the time to use the steps above, they might save what they find in My Fitness Pal. In fact, I do this to help others! So if I have taken the time to calculate the macros on a dish at a restaurant, I will save it as a meal in My Fitness Pal so that I can either use it quickly again (and save all the work) next time I go or so others can reap the benefits of my research.
You can also check out this post for an example on how I calculated macros for a restaurant meal AFTER I ate it!