This is my sixth bodybuilding competition prep, and I’ve learned some things along the way about balance that I think will comfort you!
I’m here to tell you that if your diet plan is based on macros/flexible dieting, with a little pre-planning you can enjoy social outings with friends and family and not feel guilty about it! If your diet has fixed meals that you eat every day, it might be tougher, but it can still be done.
Tips for Eating Out While on Prep
Tip 1: Don’t do it often!
It’s more stress than it’s worth, in my opinion. You’ll feel better knowing exactly what went into your food if you’re the one who cooked it.
Tip 2: Save your carbs.
If you’re on a diet, you probably have carbs with your first few meals and then just veggies with your next few meals. So if you want to be able to have, say, a sweet potato with your chicken breast or teeny-tiny-miniscule-not-worth-it 4 oz. steak, nix the carbs from one of your earlier meals so you can have some with your dinner.
BUT do this rarely. Try to limit this to the early days of prep when you have more carbs to “play” with, and proceed with caution. Don’t play fast and loose with your diet if you’re serious about it.
Tip 3: Salad is your friend.
You can get a salad pretty much anywhere! So if you have to go out to eat, order a large salad loaded with lots of green veggies and eat your protein before going into the restaurant, pack it in a Ziploc and dump it on the salad when it arrives, or if grilled or baked chicken is an option, have that (just make sure it’s the same amount you would be eating in a normal prepped meal).
As for dressing, there isn’t much fun to be had without wasting precious calories that could be spent on something more sustaining. I either ask for balsamic vinegar or some lemon slices.
Tip 4: Use online nutrition calculators to pre-plan your restaurant meal.
Many chain restaurants these days have nutrition calculators online that you can use to build a meal. Build something that fits the nutritional profile of the meal you would usually eat, and you’re good to go!
American portions are huge, and there is always human error, so to be extra careful, you can bring a small food scale with you and weigh out your meat once the server brings it to you. Better safe than sorry! (And trust me, no one is looking. Everybody’s busy eating. :))
Tip 5: Flavor your wa-wa.
Bring flavored BCAAs or Mio with you wherever you go so you can sip on something sweet if others are drinking tempting beverages around you. Just add it to your water at any restaurant!
Other Miscellaneous Tips
Keep sugar-free Jell-O around for when you need a sweet treat. These ones have 1 gram of protein and that’s it. No fat and no carbs.
Do activities that don’t involve food (necessarily), like team trivia, hanging out at a coffee shop (coffee and tea sans cream/sugar are totally fair game), or going for a walk in a park or on a trail.
While in NOLA this week, my boyfriend and I enjoyed an art museum, lots of coffee, and some window shopping. All calorie-free activities!
Amazingly, after a week spent in New Orleans, I’ve lost 3 pounds! It was hard sticking to my plan when everyone else was drinking French 75s (check out our recipe!) and eating beignets, but I did it. Here’s a photo of me eating a beignet from a previous trip to NOLA for posterity.
And here’s the progress comparison. Again, on the right I’m 3 lbs. lighter. I can tell when I look at my abs – my bellybutton is shallower in the latest picture.
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