Restaurants, Takeout, and Food On The Go: Finding Balance For Your Fitness Goals And Lifestyle


Restaurants are an inevitable part of lifestyle. Eating and going out to eat always has been very connected with being social and social events. Unfortunately, certain lifestyles require this more often and if this is a major part of ones life. The question is: how do we find balance, how to enjoy ourselves and not let this lifestyle get in the way of our personal health and fitness goals?

First thing is you must think about is what the motivation of a restaurant is. They are first and foremost a business. The industry is cutthroat and many restaurants go out of business. It is tough to survive. What keeps people coming back is to make the food as delicious as possible, big portions, cheap as possible to make a profit. It is not much of a motivation for these restaurants to give you healthy portions, show any regard toward your fitness goals.

When legislation comes that forces restaurants to list their nutritional information it is protested and fought by the restaurant industry. Even the restaurants that advertise as healthy are very suspect and generally using it as a ploy. 

Here are some important facts to really think about:

– The portions of a typical restaurant meal are almost never portioned to the calorie amount you should be having in one sitting on average. The average portions calorie-wise will be anywhere between 1.5 to 3 times the amount of calories you need in a “dinner” or any given meal. These type of meals are fine to have every once in a while but its common sense that if this is a regular part of your life, these meals can and will add up over time. 

– The motive of the menu and service of a restaurant is to appeal to the general population’s needs. Most people going to a restaurant don’t have the intent to eat healthy and well portioned. 

– If you are eating these 1,000+ calorie meals various times per week rest assured you will be gaining weight or at least you we can establish you most likely won’t be moving in a positive direction.

– You can go out to restaurants and still get results if you do it sparingly and are smart with how you approach it. 

– I have seen amazing things happen when a person who goes out to eat all the time, (takeout, luncheons, dinners) stops doing this and bodyfat seems to fly right off of them!


Before the Dinner

Make sure you eat before the dinner 2-3 hours prior with a well balanced nutritious meal. This meal should include protein + carbs and plenty of water. This will control your hunger levels and help you make better choices at dinner. It will also keep your metabolism fast and get out of storage mode. Get out of the mindset of starving yourself before you go out as many do.

The Drink:

If possible ALWAYS choose water.  A nice glass of ice cold water is always refreshing. Avoid anything else at all costs. The best think to drink contains 0 calories. Get your calories from the food.

If these are business dinners where alcohol is required

1. Best solution to do is drink water, your goals and reasons for your goals are far too important, go for this if you can get away with it.

Other solutions include:

2. Just keep one drink and just hold onto it for the night sip very slowly. Do the best you can. Go for a light beer or a light alcohol mixes. Refer to but again be very aware what alcohol will do to your body if its all the time. If its not almost every night it should not get in the way of your results.

Bread and Appetizers

If you ate 2 – 3 hours prior to this as is the healthy way to eat that will have your body burning fat, you won’t get urges for the bread that they sometimes shove right in front of you. Again, a lot of people prepare themselves to gorge on the large dinner meal not having any food beforehand this will make you overeat and store fat it is not a good habit for the goal here.

Get in the habit of NOT ordering appetizers very much,, focus on your meal as the main course. Again, you won’t be as hungry if you eat those regular small meals. Of course appetizers every once in a while won’t kill. Things are best done in moderation.

The Food (You call the shots)

Here are some guidelines to follow. Let it be known that most places have no consideration for your fitness goals its all about taste sometimes being healthy sometimes, and sometimes being not. It is up to you to choose the delicious meals that happen to be healthier.

You want to follow a basic formula:

Step 1: 1 Lean Protein Serving + 1-2 Healthy Carb Serving (2 sides of vegetables is ideal)

Step 2: Control the portion by directly how you order your food (best). Such as hold the fries, cheese, specific portion order etc.. or by what you leave on the plate for a leftover to take home.

Protein: Stick with lean meats (chicken, turkey, filet mignon, top round, fish, seafood) and have 4oz worth (size of your palm or 4 slices or so). There’s your protein! In most dishes there will be much more than 4oz served, this is what you take home with you for a later meal. Make sure this protein isn’t drenched in some heavy cream or high calorie flavoring of any sort. For Females think (size of palm). For men think (1 1/2 to 2 palms)

Carb: Now a carb, you’d want about 20-40grams roughly. So if its a deli that’s the wheat bread, you better not order those chips! If its a Burger you’d want to cancel the fries (the bun will do fine) and make sure you aren’t adding high fat cheese. Stick with healthier toppings like onions, veggies, mushrooms etc. Compromise. 

Other great carbs include:

Rice: ½ a cup – cup if the perfect portion, we’d be totally fine if you had a vegetable with that too

Potato: perfect portion is a half of a potato  to 3/4 potato depending on your size

Pasta: preferably wheat pasta ¾ of a cup will do the trick.

Veggies: go crazy with them, fill up on them first. This will make you feel full on less calories

Stay away from high calorie additions such as:

Mayo, cheese, chips, fries, creamy sauces or dressings, fried type food


Sometimes there is a healthy dessert option such as fruit but generally  a cappucino/coffee is the way to go OR just skip dessert, who needs it

Afterward / Expectation of a Doggie bag

Due to that fact of how many calories are in a typical restaurant meal this is why you get the leftovers wrapped up. Now you have an extra meal or two for later!

Keep in mind that 70% of the country is overweight. The conventional choices for this part of life will keep you in those groups. Not to mention, your choices could make a great conversation piece as people learn about your healthy lifestyle. Truth is, they probably want a few pointers from you too.

Most people:

– Gorge themselves on the whole meal, try to eat until they have stomach pain. The way they perceive the meal is that it should be finished whole as opposed to the fact that generally the servings are 1,000 plus calories. Best is to eat a meal and not be starving but not be stuffed.

– Haven’t eaten for like 5+ hours prior to the meal

– Aren’t paying attention to protein carbs fats calories because they don’t have the knowledge and because of that what they order is like playing Roulette.

– Order alcohol and sugar filled drinks everytime without considering water w/ lemon  as an option

and because of this end up eating this many calories:

For a few eye openers, click the links below