A large portion of our client base consists of people who are often juggling responsibilities as full-time professionals and/or students, parents, recreational or professional athletes, and volunteers with various organizations. This means that life sometimes gets in the way of the perfect planning that nutrition and strength coaches would prefer.
Let’s face it, one of the keys to elite performance and beautiful physiques is a nutrition plan that is on point. However, even the most disciplined of us are thrown off course by this little thing called life that occasionally disrupts our plans. On these occasions our clients don’t go drastically off course, or throw in the towel, because we educate instead of just giving hard and fast nutrition plans that don’t allow any flexibility. There are several tools that we have our clients use to help minimize the impact of an occasional nutritional detour.
First, we always recommend our clients have a couple individual packets of protein powder with them. These individual protein packs that last forever (well almost) are sold right on Amazon and delivered to your door. We recommend keeping a couple in your car, a couple in your desk at work, and even keep one in your briefcase or purse. Your food emergency is now handled and you can guarantee that you will at least get some quality protein in you without a whole lot of effort.
Now, if you haven’t planned ahead, don’t panic. You can still get a reasonably healthy and meals from just about anywhere with some basic rules for eating at restaurants and even most fast food joints.
The first scenario is the business lunch or dinner. I am a contest prep, nutrition, and strength training coach, and on days where I am solely training clients and working from the gym my meals are always planned ahead. However, I also own a gym and am a practicing attorney. These roles frequently require me to attend several relatively formal professional lunches or dinners each month. I could take my Tupperware with me to these events, but like it or not there are still conventional business norms that we need to pay attention to. Looking the part makes a difference – tupperware just doesn’t look the part.
Nicer restaurants are great places to find food options that allow me to stick to my meal plan almost perfectly. I can always order some kind of chicken breast, fish, or a lean cut of beef. If my nutrition plan calls for a lower carbohydrate intake on that particular day I can either order a salad or stick to a side of broccoli, green beans, or asparagus. Additionally, I always ask to hold any butter or sauce so I can track my macros more carefully. Remember, you are the customer and can order anything you want. Plus, most restaurants are very accustomed to special orders these days with food allergies and other dietary restrictions.
The second common scenario is one of those quick situations where you don’t have the time or money to head to the steakhouse or a nice restaurant for lunch. Believe it or not you can get a decent meal at just about any fast-food restaurant. It may not fit exactly into your eating plan, but small variations from your program isn’t fatal, as long as you can stay close.
Start with protein. Almost every restaurant has a chicken sandwich and some variation of a salad. If the salad doesn’t include chicken, then get the chicken sandwich along with the salad and strip the bun. You can also modify the salad as needed. For example, if you have a lower fat nutrition program make sure they hold any cheese, full fat dressings, seeds, or you can also ask to have those things on the side so you can control the quantity. An option for those on a lower carbohydrate diet is to order a couple of chicken sandwiches or burgers and just eat the chicken or beef and vegetables and discard the bun.
Now, fast food is not the best option if you are trying to get into stage ready condition. However, an occasional meal from a fast food restaurant that is done using some of the strategies touched on above will keep you moving in the right direction.
Bottom line, you can eat well and get high quality meals at just about any restaurant; you just need to know where to look. There is no reason to completely abandon your meal plan if you are not the one preparing the meals. Just take a second to think through your choice and then pick that meal that is going to help move you in the direction of your goals. It’s not always easy, but it is rather simple.
Questions? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 608-575-8354 for more information.