How to track macros in the Philippines when the nutrition facts aren’t provided?
It’s a little more difficult when eating out simply because you have no idea what they put in it. Also, they don’t necessarily care about how “healthy” or nutrient-dense your food is. What matters to them is that it tastes good and that you’ll come back for more, so that alone puts you at a disadvantage because addicting food is usually loaded with sugar, salt, fat or all of the above. Once you learn how to track macros in the Philippines, you’ll know which restaurants to frequent, and which foods to steer clear of on most days.
So as a bright, shining star of #iifymph, it’s up to you to make sensible food choices and to guesstimate to the best of your ability.
How to Track Your Macros When Eating Out
White rice is usually a safe bet, especially if it’s all-you-can-eat or “unli-rice.” It usually goes from rice cooker/steamer to your plate, so tracking white rice is easy because you don’t have to account for other ingredients.
How to track plain rice
1 cup of rice = usually 150g of cooked white rice but it would be safer to track it as 170-200g of cooked white rice to account for how packed the cup is.
Fried rice is usually quite oily because they sauté the ingredients first, and some of the ingredients—such as whole eggs, ham and bacon—are already high-fat to begin with. Plus, they need plenty of oil to prevent the fried rice from sticking to the wok. In general, we avoid fried rice (unless it’s our favorite kind) because it’s just not worth the fat.
How to track fried rice
- Estimate how much rice there is. Usually it’s the same amount—150-170grams of cooked white rice
- Add 1 ounce of either ham/bacon or whatever meat they put
- Add 0.5-0.75 of a large whole egg
- Add 20g or 1.33 tablespoon of oil (usually vegetable oil or palm oil)
Pizza is a safe choice for us when it comes to an untracked meal because even if it’s high in fat, at least there’s some protein in the cheese whereas something deep fried or smothered in oil/butter is just pure fat. Also, you can keep the macros/calories down with pizza by choosing simpler toppings such as vegetables and maybe one meat like pepperoni or prosciutto.
Thin crust pizzas such as the ones from artisanal pizza places or Shakey’s thin crust are a good bet because they’re pretty thin and crisp, whereas the thin crust of Pizza Hut, Bigoli and Yellow Cab are slightly thicker and not crisp at all, which isn’t the best option because a soft crust absorbs more oil. Also, thin crust pizzas usually have cheese and toppings all the way to the edge of the crust. Project Pie, Napoli Pizzeria, Nolita in BGC and pizzas served at buffets are examples of thin crust pizzas that are not crisp but not usually soaked through with oil either.
Thick crust pizzas may be a safer bet in terms of fat content (unless the crust is also soaked with oil) because they usually don’t put much cheese. So you get more carbs but lower fats which could still end up being around the same calories as you would with a an oily thin crust pizza—just different macronutrient profiles. Good choices for thick crust pizzas are Dominoe’s and Angel’s Pizza. S&R Pizza differs day to day and from branch to branch. For example, the S&R Pizza in UP Town Center usually has a thicker crust, a lot of cheese and lots of oil in the crust from the pepperoni. The S&R branches in Eastwood, Congressional and BGC have a thinner crust and a moderate amount of cheese, but also with a soaked crust. However, the best macro-friendly S&R pizza I’ve consistently had, is the one in Eastwood because the crust is pretty much a thin crust and the pepperonis are extremely poverty.
Safe choices for pizzas:
1. Vegetarian option (then ask for extra meat like pepperoni, ham, bacon, etc.)
3. Plain cheese (then ask for extra meat like pepperoni, ham, bacon, etc)
4. Plain pepperoni
Pasta, in general, is never really a macro-friendly option. They are almost always loaded with oil even if it’s not an oil-based pasta. Cream-based are no better, if slightly worse than oil-based pastas because they add cream, butter, thickeners PLUS oil on top of all of that. Avoid thicker pastas like fettuccini because you tend to eat more since the noodles are so thick. Regular spaghetti noodles are probably the best bet. I wouldn’t recommend angel hair either because it’s easy to overeat like the fettuccini. Lasagna and linguine are just as calorie-dense as fettuccini.
Penne, elbow macaroni, conchiglie (shells), farfalle (elbow ties) and the like can be better or worse. The more holes in your dish (ie. Smaller pastas with holes like elbow macaroni), the more sauce and cheese whereas with noodle-types, the sauce doesn’t have pockets so seep into. Ravioli or ribbon pastas are probably your best bet.
Safer bets for pastas:
1. Spaghetti with marinara (not meat sauce) and optional meatballs on the side for protein
2. Tomato-based sauces in general unless it’s a thick and cheesy meat sauce
3. That’s pretty much it. There are no real “safe” bets for pastas unless you do a zucchini pasta.
Wings and Chicken Tenders
There are tons of restaurants that offer wings and chicken tenders as their main dishes these days. Since it’s chicken it must be macro-friendly, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Though we love some good wings and chicken tenders, we don’t have them often because they are pretty high-fat. The chicken us usually breaded then deep fried, skin on. Then they are covered in an oil or butter-based sauce then topped with cheese. Plus the dip of course, because who eats wings without the dip? To top it off, an ice cold beer is a must I’m guessing.
Unless the wings or chicken tenders are baked, you’re out of luck. Call it one of those days when your macros are pretty screwed up and just pick it up where you left off the next day.
Safer bets for wings and chicken tenders:
1. Anything baked
2. Sauces that aren’t butter or oil-based (hint: they are very, very rare)
3. No sauce (but again, wings without sauce? Really? Nag-wings ka pa?