This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend, which is basically the gateway to the summer! And summer, along with holidays and 3-day weekends, usually means barbecues with family and friends.
There’s nothing better than being outside in the sun, playing lawn games with the grill going! It’s one of my favorite parts of summer.
If your current goals include fat loss, you might think that you can’t enjoy these summer traditions. But guess what? There ARE ways to enjoy your summer BBQ and stay on track with your nutrition!! The following tips are things I do to help keep myself in check at a BBQ:
Load up on veggies
If your family is anything like my family, your BBQ starts with a table of appetizers-cheese and crackers, chips and dip, hummus and veggies. Stick to that veggie plate! Chips are empty calories-you always end up eating a ton and they never fill you up! Cheese can be very fatty and those little squares add up quickly. Vegetables are a more filling, healthier, and a more fibrous choice.
Avoid processed meat
Yes, I’m talking about hot dogs. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good hot dog every once and a while, but don’t have that be the main source of protein at your BBQs. Chicken, burgers, steak, and fish are all great options. If you’re a classic burger BBQ-er, go for fresh ground beef and make them yourself. Avoid those gross frozen patties! My favorite way to grill steak is to make kebabs! YUM! And there are so many ways to make grilled chicken taste amazing!
Read your seasoning labels
A lot of seasonings and marinades contain a ton of sodium and calories. Look for low-sodium, low-calorie, or fat-free seasonings. FYI, these still taste great. Mrs. Dash makes great salt-free seasonings, and there are a bunch of marinades and sauces out there now that are salt-free and low-cal. You just have to look for them! Also-ketchup is a seasoning! And it contains a TON of sugar! Look for sugar-free ketchup, or make your own!
Balance your plate with sides
Think about the typical BBQ side dishes. What comes to mind? Chips, potato salad, corn on the cob? Try grilling up some veggies like pepper and onions, zucchini and tomato, corn on the cob, sweet potatoes or regular potatoes. Yes, you can grill potatoes and they come out amazing! Make a yummy summer salad instead of potato salad (so much mayonnaise!!) and you’re good to go!
If you’re on a low-carb diet, or trying to watch your carbs, try eating your burgers sans bun. I started doing this last year when I went gluten-free and I enjoy my burgers and hot dogs (when I eat them) just as much! I’ve also made Sweet Potato Noodle Buns before as a substitute, and that was a major game changer! Talk about adding new flavor to a burger!
Don’t fill up on alcohol
I know, I know. BBQ and beer. They go hand in hand. But you could be adding so many calories to your day! Let’s take Harpoon IPA as an example. One of those has 170 calories and 12g of carbs. If you drink a 6-pack over the course of the day, you’re already at 1,020 calories and 72g of carbs…not including any food! If you MUST drink while you grill, go for a light beer to keep your calories lower. A 6-pack of Bud Light would be only 72 calories and 5.4 g of carbs. Huge difference!
Add fruit for something sweet
Instead of reaching for s’mores, ice cream, or cookies for dessert, have fruit instead! Make a fruit salad with summer fruit like watermelon, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, and cantaloupe or mango. A dish of that should satisfy your sweet tooth, and is a much healthier option!
And there you have it! Fairly simple, right? Life is all about balance! You absolutely can still enjoy time with family and friends over the grill and not derail your fat-loss progress.