FOOD: THE PLAYER WAY GUIDE TO HEALTHY SUMMER BBQ’ING
Barbecues are a staple of American culture. And with a holiday weekend approaching, what better excuse is there to eat, lounge around and vibe with friends and family? However, despite the Independence Day weekend festivities, many of us are also trying hard to hold true to our fitness goals (albeit that diet we swore to maintain for that beach body).
Needless to say, some succumb living for the moment and indulging in those ribs,baked beans, mac n’ cheese and assorted types of soulful BBQ dishes are presented all with those familiar sweet (yet savory) aromas seemingly too impossible to resist.
I know, the struggle is real (ugh…trust me) but we shall make it through this, together. You’ll even be able to enjoy some of your favorite, not-so-particularly-healthy dishes as well, but just know there is some sacrifice that comes along with it (no gains without the pain). The Play Your Way Network will make sure you can get those summertime thrills of deliciousness while also not regretting your food choices and falling into self -loathing after the barbecue.
1: Go Easy (or Skip) on the Sauces and Condiments
For those looking to cut calories, its best to go minimal on adding additional BBQ Sauce to your ribs or other meat items. The normal amount of seasoning on these items already ensures a good punch of flavor, so drenching more BBQ sauce on that pulled pork or chicken will only add to your sugar and salt content already.
If eating burgers, make sure you avoid mayo altogether. Mayo is packed with calories and stick to using condiments like ketchup to a minimum amount and focus on adding veggies to a dish instead of excessive sauces.
PRO-TIP: When in doubt, reach for the Mustard. Mustard has little to no calories, but packs on flavor, so that would be preferred over ketchup and mayo altogether with burgers and sandwiches.
2: Skip the Hot Dogs, Sausages and other Cured Meats
The most delicious things tend to be some of the worst for you. If you are at a hood BBQ, your uncle will be screaming out “lemme get a (hot) link.” In the burbs, it’s the beer brats. Whatever your poison – remember to just avoid hot dogs, sausages, bite size wieners or anything that screams “cured meat”. What gives these foods their pop of flavor is via either salt and/or sugar curing, a process that pours in preservatives that extend shelf life and give it that distinct bite of fond memory. The more the foods are processed, along comes concoctions containing loads of fats, sodium and a calorie-per-serving ratio is enough to meet your protein and sodium intake for an entire day if you gorge one too many schnitzels or bratwursts. This goes for burgers and chicken too, as many might be full of nitrates if they aren’t made with fresh ground beef. Pre-packaged (frozen) burger patties and chicken planks can have tons of salt and other additives needed to extend shelf life than those in the fresh protein section.
PRO-TIP: Stick to fresh, sustainably sourced protein that looks closer to what it would look like in nature. Sure it costs a few more bucks, but if you are going to have a cheat-meal, don’t deprive your body of the best sources possible. Plus fresher protein tastes WAY better. When in doubt and you are a guest who wasn’t part of the grilling/food prep, just grab a chicken leg, bone-in breast or a couple of ribs instead of the mystery meats™ .
3: Cut the Noticeable Fat and Skin
Ribs, chicken and other meat products will have their added layers of fat as a given. As delicious as it can be at times, it comes with an added caloric cost to consumption. Chicken skin doesn’t contain much nutritional value (especially fried chicken) so its best to just peel the skin off entirely. Ribs and other beef/pork products have fat layered into less noticeable locations in the food, so take a minute to dissect though your meats.
PRO-TIP: If you are worried that chicken breast may be too dry without the skin, the head to the dark meat. While dark meat isn’t as popular (to some), without it’s skin it’s way juicier due to it’s natural fat content. It’s going to have the most flavor pound for pound even without the skin.
4: And Just Avoid Bacon Altogether – Unless its Turkey Bacon (and even then think twice).
DUN Dun dun – not the meat candy! Yes, i just said that, bacon is a no-no. We all know its horrible, and at a BBQ it’s the last thing you need to eat if you’re weight or health conscious. Here are the nutrition facts via USDA:
Nutrition FactsBacon, pan-fried
Amount Per 1 slice cooked (8 g) Calories 43
% Daily Value* Total Fat 3.3 g 5% Saturated fat 1.1 g 5% Polyunsaturated fat 0.4 g Monounsaturated fat 1.5 g Trans fat 0 g Cholesterol 9 mg 3% Sodium 137 mg 5% Potassium 45 mg 1% Total Carbohydrate 0.1 g 0% Dietary fiber 0 g 0% Sugar 0 g Protein 3 g 6%
PRO-TIP: If you are looking for a topping to add flavor, this ain’t the one. I almost would rather you go back to 1-3 and try one of those lol. Bacon, for all it’s flavor has no real nutritional value (as the cons out weight the pros by miles). If you just gotta – get you some turkey bacon if they have it, though (They probably don’t, though because ‘Merica).
5: Drink (water) Low-Calorie (water) Beverages: Water, Preferably. And Don’t Forget to Chase With Water
Can you drink? Sure. But what is your goal? If you are a hardcore beer drinker and just appreciate the flavor of a beer, the unpopular but most logical alternative is to try a non-alcoholic beer. I know, that sound crazy, but non-alchoholic Coors (for example) goes through the same malt process it’s leaded counterpart does. The same is true for any premium unleaded beer. The alcohol has been proven, to not really add much flavor. So if you are drinking for flavor, skip a TON of calories and hit up an O’douls. If you wanna get tipsy and feel the spirit of the moment, then stick to light beer (in moderation). For the real drinkers, liquors are best done without sweet mixers/chasers. Straight up with a twist of lime, on the rocks is your best bet for liquor.
As something of a craft beer aficionado myself, I would leave the “hipster” beers at the house and get something with less calories, especially if you’re going to be at the barbecue a while. 3-4 beers can stack up quite fast when your double IPA is almost 300 calories a bottle.
For thirst quenching, avoid sugary sodas and juices, period – for obvious reasons of sugar content and excessively empty calories. Water is best especially if you’re planning to partake in drinking. Plus, water is natures detox for all that salt you’ll be eating in steps 1-3 (but not 4) and help you stay well hydrated in the heat.
See, I’m not gonna tell you not to turn up. Its a cookout. Drinking is 40% of the fun. It’s all about YOUR personal goals.
PRO-TIP: For the MAJOR turn upper who is reading this. Tequila have been proven to be the best liquor if you are trying to lose weight. Pound for pound, it’ll get you there with less caloric intake. Just remember, moderation. Beer will have you buzzed, but bloated and regretting your drink choice soon after consumption.
Remember this weekend is about celebrating independence and freedom. But remember, freedom ain’t free – so you can blow your progress in a long weekend like this one. But, if you follow these steps, you’ll be prepared for any grill that awaits you without regretting your decisions the next day. Thus ensuring that your hotline will continue to “bling”
Positive vibes and salads,