Make the Tough Choices for College Success

You’ve just read our nutrition and exercise crash courses, and finally feel armed and ready to attack your fitness plan and achieve alpha status. All of a sudden, your Iphone starts blowing up with your friends asking whether you want to come eat out with them.  Just as you think you’ll have to choose between your social life and looking like Arnold, CE comes to the rescue.  As we mentioned in our intro post, The Campus Elite philosophy is all about marrying a successful college life with one’s training goals. We are totally serious about that, and that’s why we’re going to be putting together an on-going series of videos, articles and tips on how to be a boss in the weight room and never have to worry about eating out ruining your gains.

Part 1: 5 Simple Rules to help stay on track

Rule #1.

Google can answer all your questions

Almost all major restaurants make their menu available online. Some even go as far as to breaking down the exact caloric content on their menus. In case they don’t, there is nothing a simple Google Search can’t answer.   I recommend the following websites:

For convenience purposes, I recommend downloading the Fat Secret mobile app, it’s super easy and the best food-tracking app I have used.

If you know you are going to a restaurant for dinner and are serious about your fitness goals, plan ahead or, plan while you are there at the restaurant. Pull out your smartphone and research the food that you are getting. You will be able to make better choices knowing the macronutrient breakdown of every food item before you order it. 

Rule #2.

“Chicken” is not always “chicken”: Use the +100 rule

A lot of people make the mistake of seeing items on the menu that are usually synonymous with “healthy” foods and think that it is thus …healthy. This is not so. While Salad, chicken, Tuna, potatoes are all great muscle building and fat loss foods on their own, it also depends on how those items are prepared. These items are prepared with fatty sauces and oils and are fried or breaded 99% of the time; thus making the cost-benefit ratio of ordering those items almost moot. For example, ordering a tuna sandwich might seem great, until you find out that it is 90% fat, and only 5-10% protein, unlike it was in its original state.  (When I hear someone say that they love the taste of Tuna, I know that they have never eaten tuna the way it is supposed to be eaten for fat loss purposes.)  This is where researching the caloric content of your food beforehand is a smart move, but even then, chances are what’s going to be on your plate is not going to have exactly what it says on their website. Every chef is different, they might have added a bit more sauce, gone heavier on the cream or given you less protein to save costs.  It’s no surprise that people tend to overeat way more calories when they eat out than if they are eating at home, even though you might be eating the exact same dish. Remember; restaurants are in the business of ensuring that you come back. They are not in business of ensuring that you can walk down your campus looking like a stud, they could not care less about that. This means that all items will contain ingredients that will signal our bodies to salivate (and our wallets to pay) for more: salt, sugar, fat and carbs. Not exactly physique friendly items. So, as a backup, always add 100 calories to every meal you will order, and subtract 5-10 grams of protein. This will ensure that these inconsistencies are accounted for. If you make sure to practice tip #1 at all times as well, then you’re off to a good start when dining out.

Rule #3.

Protein to the rescue  

As part of the nutrition crash course, we spent a whole section identifying the role that protein plays. If you haven’t checked it out, you can download it here.  To re-iterate; it doesn’t matter if you are a D1 athlete or a gamer spending most of your day streaming on Twitch, protein is the most important macronutrient available because humans are an amino acid (the building block of protein) dominant species. Protein comprises all cells in our body, and without it, we cannot survive. However, the reason why it is recommended to add it to a restaurant meal is that protein slows down the digestion of carbohydrates and thus decreases fat storage, increases the calories required in digestion and raises your metabolism. In other words, if you have to eat a few slices of white bread or pasta, by adding chicken breast or any lean protein source to your meal, you can reduce the likelihood of storing fat and feeling sluggish. At the same time, you can actually increase the calories you burn simply from “digesting” the food. Yes, protein is that awesome!

Rule #4.

Think like a search engine

When you are reading a menu, you want to operate like a search engine and try to pick up keywords.

Some examples of these include:

  • Fried
  • Buttered
  • Breaded
  • Corn
  • Mashed
  • Enriched

If you see these, move on.

Instead, you should be looking for:

  • Grilled,
  • Steamed
  • Boiled

When it comes to choosing sauces and dressings:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinaigrette
  • Mustard

If your meals contain these ingredients chances are they are more waistline friendly than the other options.  This might seem like a lot to process, but trust me:  after a year or so of being into the fitness lifestyle, one of the skills you will pick up is “skimming” ingredients. You will most likely pick this skill up in the supermarket trying to read and understand the food label behind every food item you purchase.

Rule #5.

Fail to Prepare? Then Prepare to Fail.

The way life works out, things don’t always go as planned.  You might have planned to get a meal in a restaurant that they just ran out of, or your friends decide to change plans and get pizza instead. All of a sudden, your only choices are pizza for carbs and fat and chicken wings for protein. Instead of having to call it a night here are a few “physique-saving options”:

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  1. Just ‘boost” it up.
    Wherever you go, carry a small dispenser with 1-2 scoops of whey protein powder. I am not even kidding here, invest in a “stacker bottle”(which was that handy looking shaker you saw when opening the article!) and simply pour it in a glass of water and drink it while you have a slice of pizza. If you want to turn up the nutritional content, add 4-5 capsules of fish oil and a multivitamin to the meal. Guess what you have just done: we have turned a fatty pizza meal and “boosted it” into a vitamin and protein-laden meal.   Note: You can also carry 2 slices of whole wheat bread and your own low-fat condiments and use in the restaurant!
  1. The tissue trick: Squeeze it like a boss
    This perhaps a bit of a ghetto trick, but my fellow fitness-fanatics will appreciate this one! Whenever you get a fatty piece of meat or carbohydrate, take out a napkin and wrap the foot item in it. Once it’s wrapped up, press on the food item, until you “squeeze out” all of the extraneous cooking oil that is on your chicken or pizza slice.  Watch out how the entire napkin will just soak up all the oil and with it pure calories that would feed your fat cells a week’s worth of food. Sure, it won’t get rid of all the fat content in the food, but you probably get rid of anywhere from 300-1,000 calories by doing this. Remember, one fat gram equals 9 calories. When your chef prepares your food, he is most likely going to drench it in a lot of cooking oil, which adds to even more calories. This way, you can get rid of that.
  1. Ask for modifications or order it “on the side”
    As previously mentioned, many items that are on a restaurant menu are in their “naked form” pretty healthy. The issue arises when restaurants feel the need to drench everything in sauces, oils or add white bread and other physique destroying items to them. By applying these ingredients beforehand, chefs don’t even give you the option of choosing how much of it you want to have. However, fear not. In every restaurant, including fast-food joints, you can ask whether they can put the sauces, buns, oils and other ingredients on the side. If you feel like having some ketchup go for it. However, now that it is on the side YOU decide how much of it you want to have, not a chef.

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Tying it all together:

One thing that we want to stress at Campus Elite is that your fitness lifestyle should always be your strength and never your weakness. Too many people fall in the trap of thinking that they can’t do anything social because of their fitness lifestyle, and this in turn makes fitness a ‘weakness’ in one’s lifestyle.  Trust me, if you think like that, you will burn out really fast. Remember why you got into Fitness in the first place. Was it to become a more confident, strong and passionate person? Or was it to become weak and fearful of every obstacle? Being dedicated and motivated does not mean avoiding anything that can be a potential “obstacle”. Instead, it means turning every “obstacle” into a possibility of achieving greatness. So when you eat out, focus on making choices that will help boost your strength, endurance and fitness. These five tips prove that it’s all out there; you just have to willing to find it.

This is the process of being Elite.