How to Track Macros When Eating Out

As promised in my How-To Track Macros post, here I will give you my top tips for tracking while eating out.  

Tracking when eating out is tricky.  You can't accurately track what's in the food you eat, no matter how good you've gotten at eyeing the portion sizes of french fries. You can't know how much butter and oil is being used to cook your food, for one, or what percent of fat is in the meat in your bowl of chili. But we don't have to be perfect when we track. If you want to be perfect, my advice for you is to simply NOT eat out and cook everything yourself. 

But that gets boring, I know. 

So first off, you will need: a macros app, a calculator, access to google, & fast-typing thumbs

tips for tracking macros when eating-out

1. plan ahead

Planning ahead is mainly for those who have a set-number of macros to eat daily. If you aren't strict with your macro-intake but just want to know how much you're eating daily, you don't have to plan ahead, though it's good to keep a healthy balance of protein, carbs, and fat. Just try to be aware of what you're having before and after your meal out so your intake for the day is well-rounded.

There are two types of planning ahead: 1) Before you start eating for the day and 2) After you start eating.

Type 1) is normally when you have a special occasion coming up or you are just really on-the-ball with planning your future meals. When you know where you're eating later before you even start eating for the day, you can check the menu and decide roughly what you'd order, then take your order and track it. This way, you'll know what you have to work with beforehand. 

For example, if I'm going to get Mexican food for dinner, I'll stay low on carbs for the day because I know I'll be stuffing my face with tortilla chips later. 

Type 2) is when you've last-minute decided to eat out. This means you need to be aware of what macros you have left and eat accordingly when you're out. 

For example, if I've got 50 protein, 35 carb, and 20 fat left, I'll probably go for steak with a salad and not with fries because that would take me over my carb and fat limit. 

2. think of eating-out as an indulgence 

Eating-out should be enjoyed once or twice a week, not every night. As I said, it's impossible to know how much you're actually eating. 

It's very difficult to get adequate protein when you're eating out without the carb and fat hang-ons. The hard truth is that lean food doesn't always taste as good, so why would restaurants serve lean skinless chicken breast when they can give you a crispy chicken thigh coated in delicious mushroom sauce?

3. take pictures

Taking a photo of your food before you eat it will be helpful for you to track everything later. It'll remind you of portion sizes and what was actually on your plate. Trust me, I just ate lunch and if I hadn't taken a photo of it, I would've forgotten what I ate.

4. Guestimate

When you track food at home, you'll become increasingly skilled at eyeing the weight of food. You'll be able to have a rough idea of how much a scoop of ice cream is and 100 grams of chicken breast. When you get a rough idea, you can start putting the pieces together like a puzzle.

Just like how you track every piece of your plate at home, take apart every element of your food and track it individually. It can be tedious, I know, which is why I suggest you plan ahead, but if you are serious about tracking, this is what it takes. 

5. go to places with provided nutritional information

Some places, like Starbucks and Chipotle, will give you the nutrition facts online but you still can't know for sure. They're just giving you a basic label for all food, and every plate of food will be cooked slightly differently. By the way, if you ever look at the Starbucks nutrition information for a cookie or muffin, be prepared to cry. 

I've put a list of places that give calories and macros down below.

6. Google That Sh*t

Look at your plate of food. Chances are it looks similar to something out there in that lovely database of the internet that will give you a rough estimate of what you're eating. 

For example, you're at a one-of-a-kind Mexican restaurant that serves duck carnita tacos with chipotle crema and pico de gallo. You're not going to find their nutrition facts but you'll find something remotely similar with a quick Google search. 

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how i track my lunch

Here's an example from a lunch I had the other day.

 
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I ordered a small Ploughman's lunch at Spoon in Edinburgh and used my Macros App to roughly calculate what I was eating. Luckily I've got a good eye for portion sizes now, but I also kept in mind how much fat I should be having, which meant I only had half of the cheese and a quarter of the butter. 

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restaurant nutritional information in the uk

*Disclaimer* These might NOT be accurate, but if you are willing to trust, go ahead and trust. 


Specific to Edinburgh: Grams Edinburgh and NKD Pizza

Fast Food:

Bar Burrito
Chipotle
McDonalds
KFC
Subway
Burger King
Pizza Hut
Papa Johns
Domino's
Krispy Kreme (info for download on each doughnut description)
Five Guys (click on an item)
Cineworld
Vue Cinemas
Odeon Cinemas

Cafes:

Starbucks
Costa
Cafe Nero
Pret A Manger (select an item to see the nutrition)
Greggs

Restaurant Chains:

Zizzi
Wagamama (select a dish to see the nutrition)
Pizza Express (click the very small "here" link)
Nando's (select an item to see the nutrition)
Jamie's Italian (select a dish to see the nutrition)

Am I missing any?


where's your favorite place to eat out?