When you were 21, the guys’ night out was a twice-weekly
event. In fact, it was probably so ingrained in your life
that it didn’t need the name “guys’ night out”; you were
just hanging with your friends. And just as the times were care-free,
so was your eating.
If you’re over 30… Well, boys, them days are long gone.
Between getting the kids to baseball practice and long hours at
work, you’re lucky if you can manage to get together with the
guys and head out on the town once a month or so. But you still
gotta do it!
The dynamics of this event are unique in a man’s life. It’s the
only time when he can, and is even expected to, act like he’s in
college again: drinking a bit too much, eating everything in the
place and generally getting silly. This causes a dire problem for
those living a low-carb lifestyle — any sign of bodily weakness in
this arena will get you a razzing.
The choice is simple: Stick to
your low-carb diet and risk ridicule, or go off the diet for one
night, right? Wrong. Here are some strategies that will allow you
to keep your dignity and follow your low-carb diet.
Strategy 1: Pre-eating
The idea is simple: Eat a low-carb meal about an hour before
you head out. That way, you won’t starve, no matter where the
group decides to go.
This sounds completely counterintuitive because you are used
to cutting back a little on a day you know you’ll have a great
evening meal. Of course, this kind of thinking added those extra
pounds in the first place. Actually, the practice of pre-eating is parallel
to something you probably did back in college: pre-loading
drinks — downing a couple of beers before going out so you didn’t
have to spend $5 per drink on the first two to get “social.” That
was to save money; this is to save your healthy lifestyle.
Strategy 2: Order smart
In any other circumstance, go ahead and order the low-carb
salmon plate at TGI Fridays or the salad with white wine vinaigrette…
but those choices now will make you a marked man with
your friends. Instead, order a steak or prime rib and follow strategy
No. 5 below with the sides.
Maybe you’re not going out to a full-service American-fare
restaurant. With many ethnic menus, finding an acceptable low-carb
choice without going to salad can be difficult but not impossible.
If the gang chooses something other than a steakhouse, try the
Pizza: Arguably the most popular food in America and the
largest thorn in the sides of low-carb eaters everywhere. Pizzerias
across the country are picking up loads of crust with a taint of sauce
left after people scrape the cheese and toppings off. Of course, that
classic low-carb maneuver is much too obvious, so opt for buffalo
wings (sauce, not barbeque), which are usually available.
Other Italian: The antipasto plate is your savior here. Usually,
you’ll find it on the menu with the appetizers, but order it as
a meal. Basically, it’s an Italian deli plate with prosciutto
ham, olives, pickled peppers and
Chinese: Try the teriyaki beef or
chicken; make sure the cook goes
light on the sauce. Pressed duck
is another good choice.
Mexican: A fajita plate
comes with meat mixed
with lower-carb vegetables.
Quietly skip the tortillas,
and you’re home free.
Strategy 3: The more manly the drink, the better
Nothing will blow your cover and show you to be a low-carb
sissy more than ordering a Michelob Ultra or Rolling Rock Green
Light. If you must drink beer, order a regular light beer. As far as
carbs go, Miller Lite is best, followed by Coors and Bud Light.
But there’s a better alternative. Uttering the phrase “Give me a
Black Label on the rocks” will not only keep you from sissydom that
night, it will likely eliminate the title from ever being applied to
you. If you’re going to drink, hard liquor on the rocks or with soda
is the best choice.
Mixed drinks tend to be heavy on sugar-laced
ingredients that will spike your blood sugar almost instantly. Even
the old standards like gin and tonic have sugar in the mixer. Try a
good single malt or blended scotch or, for those who want a mixed
drink, a Manhattan (skip the cherry and ask for a twist) or martini.
DON’T announce when you get into the car, “I’m on a
DO go wherever the group agrees on – unless you want to
DON’T order off the low-carb menu.
DO order low-carb choices off the regular menu.
DON’T skip the beer or drinks.
DO order low-carb drinks and drink in moderation.
DON’T sit at the poker table or movie with nothing to eat.
DO bring sugar-free candy to snack on.
DON’T pull the sugar-free candy out with a flourish and
DO pull the candies out of your pocket and eat them
DON’T order the salad — unless it’s a steak salad.
DO order the prime rib.
DON’T order low-carb sides at the table.
DO catch the server away from the group and
Strategy 4: Suck on a cigar
If the night calls for barhopping or playing poker, make
sure to pick up at least one decent cigar. You
don’t need to light it. (Actually, most people
around you would appreciate it if
you didn’t.) Just let it sit there in
your mouth while everyone
else is snacking on the breaded
shrimp or chips.
tells the room, “Hey, I’m
busy here enjoying a fine
cigar. Don’t ask me if I
want a sandwich.” Add
this accessory to the single-
malt scotch you just
ordered, and you’ve
amped your level of cool
to Rat Pack levels.
Strategy 5: Corner your
server away from the table
A major giveaway would be ordering a steak
and then skipping the baked potato that comes
with it. Instead, order the potato loaded; then,
when you see the server going back toward the
kitchen, get up like you’re going to the restroom
and quietly (and secretly) tell the server that
you would rather have all veggies instead of the
Warning: don’t try this on a date or with
your wife at the table. Women are uncanny at
remembering what you ordered and will, with
or without your consent, point out to the server
that you ordered a baked potato, leading to a
scene. Men will neither notice nor care that you
didn’t get what you ordered.
Strategy 6: Bring a low-carb
snack food with you
This doesn’t mean sitting down at the gam-ing
table with a large bag of soy-based low-carb
tortilla chips. But if the evening calls for seeing
a movie, bring some sugar-free candy in your
jacket pocket. This will give you something to
snack on during the flick while avoiding the
popcorn and Milk Duds.
A word of caution: Low-carb candies often
contain sugar alcohols. While these don’t cause
much of an insulin release, they’re not digested
and do cause another kind of release. This might
make you the life of the party with the guys —
or it could backfire. Pun intended.
Following these simple strategies, you can
survive a night out with the guys. And as you lose
the pounds, you can stick your chest out and
trumpet claims such as “It was just will power,”
“Really? I hadn’t noticed I lost any” or anything
you darn well please. This will keep you from
being classified as the guy on “that” diet and
avoid all the “How’s your diet going, pal” comments
every time you see one of your friends.
After all, it’s your life, it’s your health and it’s none
of their business unless you want it to be.