In many towns and neighborhoods all over the country, a local steakhouse is a hallowed place where people enjoy delicious food and good company. It’s often a place where people celebrate special occasions such as graduations, though they may often visit simply because they feel hungry. There aren’t really any rules about how often you can come and visit.
The problem is that visiting such a place too frequently may not be great for your health. That’s especially true if you’re trying to maintain or lose weight, since so many dishes here contain lots of calories and fat. With huge servings of steak along with high-calorie appetizers and side dishes (plus the beer), each visit can pack a wallop of calories that can really stretch your waistline.
So what should you do? While it’s really right to avoid your local steakhouse completely (that’ll suck the fun out of life), you can instead follow some basic rules so that you don’t completely wreck your diet.
Pick the right appetizers. Yes, it’s hard to say no to such delectable options as cheese fries, potato skins, and wings. But you can replace them with healthier options that still taste great anyway. You should instead go for crab or shrimp cocktails, while raw oysters are a delicacy you can’t go wrong with.
Go with organic beef. In the US, most of the time the cows here have been fed a steady diet of corn. That’s understandable since this maintains the mild taste of the meat, and the corn diet adds to the marbling that makes the steak so flavorful to begin with. But you may want to find a steakhouse that offers grass-fed beef instead.
This choice isn’t just because it’s obviously more natural, as evolution has decreed that cows eat grass. It’s also the fact that you get lean meat packed with lots of omega-3 fatty acids. This is the kind of healthy fat you need for your diet. It’s the fat that can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.
Pick sirloin or filet mignon. These options tend to go for less than 400 calories, even with a 9-ounce serving. Avoid the Porterhouse and the prime rib, as both can easily surpass the 1000-calorie mark.
Avoid steak burgers and breaded fried steak. Burgers come from leftover trimmings of steak, and these often come with 30% fat. Breaded and fried steak adds a lot more fat to the dish, and that’s not even counting the gravy.
Order mashed potatoes. Lots of people are your regular “meat and potatoes” type of folks. It’s just that it matters a lot to your health how your potatoes are prepared. Your best bet is to get mashed potatoes, since even a humongous scoop hardly goes past 250 calories.
With baked potato, a large serving goes for at least 300 calories, and that doesn’t even yet count the calorie content of the toppings. What about hash browns or steak house fries? Those will put in an extra 500 calories to your total intake.
Pick the right sauce. You should just go for peppercorn sauce as your healthiest option. On the other side of the spectrum is the Béarnaise, which is made almost entirely of melted butter and egg yolks.
Avoid freebies. Some places offer free bread and butter or chips and salsa. In terms of calorie count, these things aren’t free at all. You’ll pay with your weight gain later.
With these 7 simple rules, you should be good even at your local steakhouse. Just remember the basic rule in diets and in life—keep it in moderation, and you should be fine.