Streamline Your Steakhouse Experience to Achieve Your Weight Loss Goals

Dining at a steakhouse can still be a great option when you’re on a diet, but you need to be mindful when ordering. For instance, a fried blooming onion is not your friend, and it can be so easy to get carried away with dips and sauces when it comes to apps. In addition, did you know not all cuts of meat are created equally when it comes to calories? You’ll learn all about these tidbits and everything you need to know regarding ordering at a steakhouse for weight loss.

Know the different cuts of meat you’re ordering.

Surprisingly, cuts of meat can vary quite a bit in the calorie department. So, you may want to stick with a cut of top round, which is fewer calories than prime rib.

“Depending on what part of the animal is used, fat content (and thus, calories) can differ by a large margin,” explains Annette Snyder, MS, RD, CSOWM, LD, from Top Nutrition Coaching. “Fat-rich cuts like ribeye/prime rib ([approximately] 83 calories per ounce), Porterhouse ([approximately] 70 calories per ounce), or filet mignon ([approximately] 76 calories per ounce) are some of the highest in calories. Leanest cuts include tip steak ([approximately] 59 calories per ounce), top round ([approximately] 52 calories per ounce), and top sirloin ([approximately] 60 calories per ounce).”

Never go out to eat hungry.

man hungry concept

When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s wise to have a healthy, light snack one or two hours before you head out to dinner. In this way, you can “turn down the volume” on any hunger pains.

“This helps when you’re making choices on what to eat, and it helps you eat more slowly vs in a desperately fast manner,” says Snyder. “Think of the last time you got over-hungry—did you have the patience to put together or wait for a balanced meal, or savor the taste of the food? Did you end up overfull as well?”

Be mindful of portion sizes.

Prepared surf and turf well done steak and lobster meal

Ah, the big juicy steak! It can be incredibly tempting to order a large cut of meat with a generous helping of your favorite side dish. But listen up. An eight-ounce steak may be “small” at some steakhouses, but Snyder cautions that it’s double the recommended portion size per adult meal.

“A standard 3.5-ounce portion looks like a deck of cards plus an extra bite,” says Snyder. “An ounce of cooked meat, for reference, is similar in size to three dice. Then you come to the sides—a standard serving of cooked starch (potatoes, rice, pasta) is half a cup, or about a small handful. For the sauces, know that butter contains [100+] calories per tablespoon, or about the size of a small thumb or half a ping pong ball. Now, think of the pile of sauce on the plate. A little goes a long way.”

Consider splitting portions with your dining companion(s).

splitting steakhouse dinner

Portion splitting is a great way to enjoy a higher-fat meat cut without consuming excess calories, as you only eat half.

Snyder suggests, “Opt for the smallest portion available, as [it will still] provide enough for more than one person. If it’s a rich side dish [you want], the same rule applies—share the love!”

Check out the menu in advance.

woman on computer

By knowing your options before you even get to the restaurant, you can find out all of the sauces, ingredients, nutrition info, and preparation techniques you need to know to make an informed decision.

“[It’s] less stress, too, as you won’t be sitting at the table, starving, and having the server wait as you make a hurried decision that you may ultimately regret,” says Snyder.

Choose your sides wisely.

baked potatoes

Even vegetables can bring on a ton of unnecessary calories. (We’re looking at you, creamed spinach!) Another prime example is the ever-so-popular wedge salad, which is typically doused with blue cheese dressing and bacon.

“Baked potatoes are another good option instead of the buttery, fried, or otherwise ‘enhanced’ potato dishes—hold the melted butter and add your own controlled amount at the table if needed,” Snyder offers.

Hold the cocktails.

saying no to alcohol concept

Not only are cocktails filled with tons of extra calories, but alcohol can also rev up your appetite.

“Space out drinks with water or sparkling water if you can,” Snyder suggests. Good options that are on the lighter side include vodka with club soda, dry white wines (red pairs well with steaks, so if you must, go for the dry varieties with less sugar), light beers, gin and diet tonic, or hard seltzers.”

Consider other proteins on the menu.

restaurant menu on table

There are usually always other protein options on a steakhouse menu. Lobster tail, for instance, is a scrumptious and smart choice, as it’s filled with omega-3 unsaturated fats. Beware, however, as the butter can really derail your weight-loss efforts.

“Oysters on the half-shell (also packed with healthier fats) are another tasty choice,” Snyder suggests. “Grilled shrimp (make sure it’s not deep-fried or drowning in butter) is great, too—and it goes well with rice and veggies. Shrimp cocktail would also work.”

Hold the sauce, or proceed with caution.

steak sauce

Many sauces have a heavy cream base, including bearnaise, Hollandaise, blue cheese, peppercorn, compound butter, horseradish whipped cream, and the like.

What are the good sauces to choose? According to Snyder, “Red wine sauce is a decent option, as it contains dry red wine, smaller amounts of butter, and various herbs and aromatics. Chimichurri sauce is based on olive oil, spices, and red wine vinegar. If you don’t have the lighter options available, consider getting a dish that doesn’t use them—or split up the portion.”

Make sure your plate has a lot of color on it.

steak with veggies on platter

A good habit is to let your veggies shine, meaning don’t cover them up with cream sauces. If you can’t clearly see a veggie, consider something else on the menu.

“Look at your plate—is there color? Or is it mostly the meat and beige-colored potatoes, bread, etc.? Aim to make half your meal come from plants (like veggies), about a quarter of the meal from a starchy side if desired, and the other quarter of the meal from protein,” says Snyder.

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