For the United States, the Super Bowl is an annual celebration of burly men crashing into one another, ravenous sports fans yelling obscenities, and a gluttonous array of every belly-bursting finger food you can think of. Basically, it's like the second coming of Thanksgiving dinner, except in place of a traditional turkey you've got 200 chicken wings and no Aunt Edna in sight.
Now, if you're committed to making headway on your fitness goals during the big game, you can start by making better—but equally tasty—choices. This year, forgo the traditional, last-minute picks in your grocery store's chip aisle and score a nutritional touchdown with these easy, smart swaps.
Remember: Snack fit, not fat!
What's a football game without chips to munch on? The average bag at your supermarket is slammed with extra fat and a tiny serving size that most people cannot (and would not) limit themselves to. While raw vegetables could be a great option, why not swap a chip for a chip with the substitutes below?
|Quest Nutrition Protein Chips||Doritos Nacho Cheese|
|Per Bag||Per 11 Chips|
|120 calories||140 calories|
|2 g fat||8 g fat|
|5 g carbs||16 g carbs|
|21 g protein||2 g protein|
Part chip, almost all protein, Quest chips have the satisfying crunch and flavor of your favorite potato chips, but they're made mostly from whey protein. One crunch will leave you wondering, "Just what is this delicious wizardry?!"
Aside from pizza, Buffalo wings are generally the centerpiece of any Super Bowl party. While they do contain protein, they also have equal amounts of fat from the sauce and accompanying condiments (blue cheese dressing, anyone?).
|Perky Jerky||Buffalo Wings|
|Per 1 Ounce||Per 3 Wings|
|60 calories||216 calories|
|0 g fat||15 g fat|
|4 g carbs||0 g carbs|
|11 g protein||18 g protein|
Made with no nitrates and low in sodium, an ounce of this premium turkey jerky offers 11 grams of protein and 0 grams of fat. Should you choose to eat the whole 2.2-oz bag—and why wouldn't you?—that's 24 grams of satisfying, muscle-building protein! You can also choose from a variety of seriously delicious flavors, including spicy and teriyaki.
There's just something about cheese dust that can make these airy snacks far too addicting. Alas, like most processed snacks, cheese puffs are packed with fat and dirty carbs. Thankfully, we've got a healthy alternative!
|Kay's Natural Protein Puffs||Cheetos Cheese Puffs|
|Per Bag||Per 27 Pieces|
|125 calories||280 calories|
|3 g fat||18 g fat|
|16 g carbs||27 g carbs|
|12 g protein||3 g protein|
As you can see, Kay's Natural Protein Puffs have a better balance of clean carbs and muscle-making protein than other name-brand cheese puffs. The other benefit is that you get 5 grams of fiber per bag!
Trail mix isn't the most conventional Super Bowl snack at the party, sure, but who can resist the perfect blend of sweet and savory? If this is your nosh of choice, you're in luck.
|Ostrim Paleo Trail Mix||Kirkland Trail Mix|
|Per 1/2 Bag||Per 3 Tablespoons|
|160 calories||160 calories|
|10 g fat||10 g fat|
|14 g carbs||12 g carbs|
|8 g protein||5 g protein|
Looking at the comparison of nutrition info, you may conclude that Ostrim and traditional trail mix are very similar. Not exactly. In terms of total weight at that serving size, you get less mix with Kirkland's Trail Mix than you do with Ostrim's. Ostrim trail mix also contains a healthy blend of Ostrim Jerkee (a protein source) with fruit, almonds, cashews, and cranberries. By contrast, the predominant carb source from the other mix comes from chocolate candies.
Ah, pretzels: another classic mainstay in the average Super Bowl snack line-up. While these twisty nibbles offer a satisfying crunch and are relatively low in fat, they're severely lacking in protein and are laden with extra sodium that can leave you feeling dehydrated after having one handful too many.
|Kay's Natural Protein Pretzel Sticks||Snyder Pretzel Sticks|
|Per Bag||Per 20 Sticks|
|120 calories||120 calories|
|3.5 g fat||1.5 g fat|
|15 g carbs||26 g carbs|
|12 g protein||<1 g protein|
Made with soy protein, Kay's Natural Protein Pretzel Sticks are a satisfying higher-protein, lower-carb crunchy snack option. They're also gluten free! Win-win-win.
Showing up to a party with chips (or vegetables) but no dip is like arriving at a dinner table with too many knives but no fork—in other words, crazy. What's really crazy is that, aside from some salsa dips, most goops are pure culinary and nutritional monstrosities that add hundreds of low-quality calories to your snacking. Fortunately, it's possible to dip your chips without forfeiting your macros.
|Walden Farms Calorie Free Dressing||Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing|
|Per Serving||Per 2 Tablespoons|
|0 calories||140 calories|
|0 g fat||14 g fat|
|0 g carbs||2 g carbs|
|0 g protein||1 g protein|
If you're looking for fat-free, low-calorie options, there's a clear winner here. Walden Farms is a great substitute when all you're looking for is a dip for veggies, chips, and protein without all the extra calories. Thousand Island and Raspberry Vinaigrette are staff favorites.
Puddin' is perfect for those times when your raging sweet tooth hits before, during, and after commercials.
|Power Pak Pudding||Snack Pack Vanilla Pudding|
|Per Container||Per Container|
|190 calories||120 calories|
|4.5 g fat||3 g fat|
|9 g carbs||21 g carbs|
|30 g protein||1 g protein|
Who else remembers peeling back a portable container of pudding during lunchtime in their youth? Well, the Power Pak is a grown-up pudding that is delicious, lower in carbs, and packed with protein.
High-Protein Peanut Butter Spreads
FYI, Super Bowl parties are also code for peanut butter jelly time!
|P28 High-Protein Spread||JIF Peanut Butter|
|Per 2 Tablespoons||Per 2 Tablespoons|
|200 calories||190 calories|
|13 g fat||16 g fat|
|6 g carbs||7 g carbs|
|14 g protein||8 g protein|
For those of you who love your peanut-butter-and-anything sandwiches, P28's high-protein spreads really kick up the protein a few notches with twice the protein per serving. Now you can feel good about feeding your muscles while noshing on some tasty, creamy peanut butter in a variety of different flavors. By the way, the White Chocolate is out of this world...
After plowing through savory snacks, many hungry partygoers start hunting for sweets. We've got you covered.
|Perfect FIT Protein Cookie||Chips Ahoy Cookies|
|Per Cookie||Per 3 Cookies|
|150 calories||160 calories|
|6 g fat||8 g fat|
|18 g carbs||22 g carbs|
|10 g protein||2 g protein|
If you're going to help yourself to cookies, you can at least let your conscience rest easy knowing that this simple gluten-free swap will provide you with way more protein while being dang tasty to boot!
Let's not forget that copious calorie-laden alcohol and sugary drinks play a huge part of Super Bowl merriment. Get your hydration on while supporting your muscles!
|Amino Acid and BCAA Mixtures||Gatorade|
|Per Serving||Per 8 Fluid Ounces|
|5-10 calories||50 calories|
|0 g fat||0 g fat|
|2 g carbs (varies)||14 g carbs|
|2 g protein (varies)||0 g protein|
If you plan on sticking to your diet, you can still partake in the revelry with any of these tasty amino acid and branched-chain amino acid mixes. They taste pretty much like a fruity sports drink and offer an added boost in muscle recovery as you sip throughout the game. You can even get creative and make these delicious "mocktails" (non-alcoholic drinks)!