As you prepare to start doing some barbecuing this coming season, it's important that you keep a few factors in mind to ensure that you're making it as healthy as you can. There are some foods that can significantly bump your calorie and fat intake up for the day, leading to unwanted weight gain by the time the summer season is over.
By doing some careful planning first though, it's more than possible to choose good choices and maintain a healthy diet that will only promote your goals, whether they are muscle building or fat loss. Here are some of the big things to consider this summer while barbecuing.
1 / Watch The BBQ Sauce
The first thing you need to be more aware of is how much barbecue sauce you're using on the chicken, steak, fish, or ribs you BBQ. While some barbecue sauces will definitely enhance the flavor of the meat, avoid using too much as it's often fairly high in calories and sugar.
A better idea instead would be to marinate your meat in soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and your selection of herbs and spices. Rub that into the meat and place in the fridge to set for a few hours. Then, remove from the fridge before cooking and the meat will have taken on the flavor.
2 / Make Your Own Pasta Or Potato Salad
Next, you need to be especially choosy when picking up pasta or potato salad. Nine times out of ten the pre-made versions of these foods will contain high fat source cream, mayonnaise, or other ingredients which make it incredibly high calories and fat.
Instead, consider creating your own. This is the safest bet since then you know exactly what you're getting in the salad and will have direct control over the calorie content.
An added idea to make this even more healthy is to add more thinly chopped vegetables to 'bulk' out the salad so your not eating as many high carb potatoes or pasta. Good vegetable choices for this include celery, cucumber, carrots, peppers, and onions.
3 / Have Fruit-Filled Desserts More Often
On the dessert side of things, with it being warmer outside, you're likely looking for something cooler and lighter for dessert. Rather than diving into the deluxe ice cream that may be offered, consider making your own dessert with sliced fruit, some high quality protein pudding made with skim milk and protein powder blended in, and then topped with low-fat Cool Whip topping.
This option will be a great deal more nutritious than the ice cream or other cakes or pies that are offered to you and won't set you back nearly the same amount of calories.
Another option, if you really want something sweet and are out by the fire, is to roast a marshmallow or two. While these are basically pure sugar and won't contribute much nutritionally speaking, they do only come in at about 25 calories apiece so one or two won't do any kind of damage to your already sound diet.
4 / Watch Your Beverages
Another place where calories can very easily add up is with your beverage selection. You may already know all the harmful effects of alcohol on your muscle-building and fat loss goals as far as metabolic processes and recovery go, but more than that, many of those summery drinks people enjoy so much have hundreds of calories that will lead to significant weight gain over time.
If you are going to drink, typically the best choice is opting for a mixed drink with only the alcohol of preference and diet soda. Avoid drinks that are created with drink mixes; they typically have a high amount of sugar. Avoid drinks that are made with creamy liquors; these are high in fat and sugar. Avoid cooler drinks since again these can contain 250-350 calories per bottle.
There are many light beers now on the market, which you may want to consider, but still, pay attention to how many you have. Your best bet is to alternate one alcohol drink with one non-alcohol calorie-free, caffeine-free beverages. Even better would be to not drink at all, but that's something many people are simply not willing to give up. The least you can do then is make the best of it by choosing wisely.
5 / Consider Making Home-Made Sweet Potato French Fries
Rather than deep frying French fries, consider slicing up some sweet potatoes, coating them in a bit of olive oil and spices, and placing them over the grill to make your own version of home-made fries.
Some individuals may also choose to place the sliced sweet potatoes along with other sliced vegetables (carrots, onions, peppers, and mushrooms) in some tin foil with a small amount of salad dressing on the grill to cook as well. This will give your potatoes a softer texture rather than the crispy texture you get from grilling them directly.
6 / Watch Your Portion Sizes
Finally, if nothing else, make sure you watch your portion sizes while eating at your barbecue. Often the barbecue meal is set up as a buffet type of style, which becomes easy to overeat at.
Have a look at all the different foods before dishing up your plate and only choose the ones that you really want to have. Even if there are plenty of healthy options, you only need one source of complex carbohydrates and one source of protein. If chicken and beef are served, choose one, not both. This will help keep the total calorie count under control.
So, be sure you keep these ideas in mind this barbeque season. You can certainly have a healthy meal if you monitor your cooking techniques and make smart decisions.