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Exercise Cookout Caution This Summer [WELLNESS]

Strategies To Survive Summer Barbecue Season

As summer approaches, school ends and barbecue season begins.  As you partake in the ensuing patio parties and picnics, plan ahead.  You have worked hard to achieve your fit physique, so you don’t want to undo all those hours on the Arc Trainer with a pile of fat-laden empty calories.  Don’t worry, there are many tasty alternatives to keep you lean and energetic.

[Protein Picks]

First, reconsider the usual hamburger and hot dog.  Hot dogs are over-processed, high in artery-clogging saturated fat, high in sodium, and laced with nitrates.  Hamburgers made with regular ground beef (70% lean) contain 16 grams of fat in a puny 3-ounce serving.

Veggie burgers and hot dogs (from companies like Tofurky, Boca, and Gardenburger) are low-fat, nutrient-rich options.  If you insist on meat, look for ground beef labeled “extra-lean,” ground white-meat turkey, chicken breasts, or lean cuts of beef such as flank steak or top loin.

[Carbs & Condiments]

Now that you have chosen a lean protein, don’t crowd it out in a sea of simple carbs.  Consider going open-face, using only half of a roll, preferably whole grain.  For condiments, feel free to pile on the lettuce, tomato slices, grilled onions, mustard, hot sauce, or salsa.  Watch the ketchup—many brands are loaded with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.  Reconsider mayonnaise—it has 100 calories per ounce, all fat.

[Simple Sides]

Any decent barbecue involves side dishes.  Some side dishes can seriously derail your diet, cramming copious amounts of fat, simple carbs, and sodium in even a puny half-cup serving.  To head off temptation and fortify your resolve, fill up on salad, grilled vegetables, crudités, and fresh fruit.  Pass up the potato chips, you can have them anytime and they provide no nutritional benefits—just a lot of fat.  If you love potato salad, be advised that a half-cup serving contains 180 calories, 11 grams of fat, and 14 grams of carbohydrate.  Coleslaw can contain 50 to 150 calories per half-cup serving, depending on whether prepared with mayonnaise or vinaigrette dressing.

Finally, before any festive eating occasion, I follow Mammy’s admonition to Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind—eat a small snack before you go to the party so you don’t graze ravenously throughout the party! 

Holly Aglialoro
Guest Blogger and Fitness Enthusiast

Photo Credit: [Creative Commons photo by Signe Karen]