I am a realistic nutritionist and understand that from time to time people like to have a meal with their family or friends – after all, it is one of my favourite things to do!
However, I believe that if you are trying to strip some fat or build lean mass, it is important to make the right food choices when you are out – you don’t want to undo all that hard work you have been putting in.
I have chosen a few popular places to eat and will discuss ways to eat healthy in each of them (I have focused on more fast-food and cheaper places, as these tend to be most popular with youth).
I know that this restaurant is very popular amongst rugby payers. People tend to think “it’s just chicken”, however, it is easy to go overboard with sides and extras, so choose wisely.
If you are trying to minimise your fat intake, go for a main course that has little chicken skin on it – for example you could have the chicken breast burger.
Or if you are cutting back on the carbohydrates, the butterfly chicken breast could be the main for you. You could always pick some of the skin off too (although I know this will be tough as it does taste delicious!)
As for sides, if you are going to go with “regular” sides, my advice would be to choose either the corn on the cob, the macho peas, the side salad or even the spicy rice. If you are going for a “fino” side I would choose the ratatouille (this is a nutritiously great choice), or the sweet potato mash (similar nutritional profile to normal potato but packed with antioxidants).
It is a lot easier said than done, but try to limit the number of poppadums you have! They are very easy to eat a lot of, but be aware that they are normally fried and dripping with oil! Use the salsa type condiments rather than the creamy ones to complement them.
For your main course, I recommend having boiled rice (instead of fried) and if possible, make it wholemeal. Go for a curry that has a tomato base, not one that is really thick and creamy – or even a dry dish such as tandoori chicken. Vegetable curries are great, or stick with either prawns or chicken for leaner protein sources.
If you must have a side dish, why not swap your fried onion bhajis and share a Sag Aloo (spinach and potatoes) or Sag Bhaji (spinach dish) with a friend to boost your antioxidants?
You could start with a helping of green olives to feed your body with some essential fatty acids. Another starter option could be the mozzarella and tomato salad (mozzarella tends to be lower in fat than other harder cheeses).
You could always have a healthy salad, or one of their pasta dishes, but let’s face it – most people go to pizza express to enjoy a pizza!
Pizza Express caters for people who want to eat healthy with their special range of pizzas. Their Leggera Pizzas have less than 500 kcal (and some other options are quite low in fat too). Try to choose a pizza with plenty of vegetables and chicken, minimise the salami and cheese if you are trying to limit your fat intake (this is the best option pre-matches because fat can slow the absorption of other nutrients important for energy provision e.g. carbohydrate). The Pollo ad Astra Leggera is a perfect option.
I wouldn’t ever recommend going to McDonalds for a nutrient packed meal – as soon as you step in the door the smell of salty chips may make you give in to temptation! However, if you find yourself in there, they do have some healthy options. The two I would recommend are the grilled chicken wrap (with only 330 kcal and 9 g fat) or the grilled chicken salad (minimising the dressing and extras you put on it) – which has only 115 kcal and 2g fat.
I hope now that you can go out with friends and family, and have more of an idea of what types of foods you can enjoy and still feel like you are reaching your body composition goals.
If you would like any recommendations for your favourite place to eat, please feel free to contact me.