Surviving in the Wild: Staying on Diet

Imagine this: You’re out running errands and it takes longer than you planned. Unfortunately, you’ve left your meals at home, and it’ll be hours before you can eat again.  Oops.  It happens to the best of us.  Yeah, the problem could have been prevented by always bringing two prepped meals around with you, but you’re hungry now and you can’t go back in time.  Or, maybe you actually like having a social life, and you want to eat out with friends.

So what can you do to stay on track?

Sticking to the meal plan exactly as written may not be feasible, and you’ll probably have to calculate the macronutrient profile (use MyFitnessPal and search ‘USDA [food item]” for an accurate count) to make this work.  MacroFreak (iOS and Android) – a completely free app – has helped me out numerous times.  They’ve imported in nutritional info from over 100 restaurants, and you can search based on distance and specific macronutrient limitations (yes, you can search by a combination of carbs, fats, and protein!).  It’s a really clever app.

However, it only has entries for whole entrees.  Depending on how limited your macros are, this may or may not work for you.  It doesn’t tell you how many calories are in the chicken part of a grilled chicken sandwich, or what macros come from the bread.  What I do is carry around a portable food scale and weigh out whatever I’m eating in grams, and then enter that into MyFitnessPal.  Please take into account that this method doesn’t account for any oils/fats used in cooking – I usually stick to baked/grilled items to avoid this problem, but it’s not 100% guaranteed.

Sometimes you’ll get lucky and MyFitnessPal has components of entrees – like sides, or even parts of burgers.  This can be very helpful.  Below are some ideas and meals I’ve actually tried – only listing national chains.  Also, don’t be afraid to go into a grocery store to get food.  It seems obvious, but I’ve definitely forgotten that was an option at times!

If you want to stay on diet while on-the-go, you have to be the annoying asshole that asks for only the protein, for them to use no butter or oils, or for them to put no sauces on anything (just on the side, please!).  Most restaurants will try and accommodate, even if they look at you a bit sideways for asking.

High Protein/Low Everything Else Ideas

  • Chick-fil-A grilled nuggets, grilled chicken salad
  • Subway chopped salad (oven roasted chicken patty)
  • McDonald’s grilled chicken salad
    • (Tip: dip the fork into the dressing before getting each bite, and you’ll use less of it)
  • Buffalo Wild Wings naked tenders with dry rub (and veggie boat as your side; you can dip these into a dry rub on the side too)
  • Chipotle salad
  • Everything from Taco Bell can be ordered a-la-carte: chicken, shredded lettuce, tomato/pico.  Boom, that’s a cheap, safe salad.


  • The key to eating out on keto is to watch the sauces (especially ketchup).  You can request for them to hold any condiments.
  • The salads listed above with an oil based dressing/vinaigrette
  • You can add even more to your built Taco Bell salad like, sour cream and guacamole.
  • Any fast food burger, throw away the bun (for example, McDonald’s patty is 90 cals (66% fat, 0% carbs, 34% protein).
  • Jimmy John’s unwich.
  • Burger King option walkthrough
  • Here’s a more comprehensive list of options from fast food places, grocery stores, and even gas stations.

The temptation to say “screw it” and eat off diet can be really high, and it can be hard to resist.  None of these options are groundbreaking, to say the least, but hopefully you’ll think of them next time you’re stranded without your next planned meal!

Need help calculating your macros?  Check out this post on how to calculate your macros!

Got any other tips or tricks that you’ve learned while dieting?  Share them in the comments below!

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