With summer right around the corner, many of you are starting to think about what's going to be on the menu. Nights of barbecuing are approaching, along with days spent picnicking at the beach, and afternoons tanning on your deck with a cool, refreshing snack.
There are many foods that we associate with summer memories that help to make these warmer months that much more enjoyable, but unfortunately, if you're on a fat loss diet, many of these classic favorites don't quite make the cut.
Luckily, there is a whole other group of summer foods that do fit the bill and still taste great. Incorporating these into your day more often will make them the new summer foods and you'll also get the benefit of looking your best at the same time.
Top 10 Summer Foods
Here are the top ten foods to focus on this summer.
Nothing screams summertime like a big slice of watermelon. You probably recall eating this as a young child, but have let it fall from your diet as an adult. Now is a great time to bring it back into your diet though because of all the different nutrients it provides.
Considering this fruit is over 90% water, it also helps keep you well hydrated when the sun pours down. Finishing off an outdoor activity with a big bowl of watermelon and some form of protein is a great way to re-hydrate yourself while supplying the carbohydrates and protein your muscles need.
Watermelon is also an excellent source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A, helping to keep your immune system running strong as well as preventing various forms of cancer due to the lycopene content in the fruit.
2. Summer Squash
The second fruit you should add to your fat loss diet this summer is summer squash. This form squash can easily be added to stir-fries or eaten on it's own as part of a veggie tray with low-fat dip.
The health benefits you'll receive from doing so include protection against heart disease, cancer, and stroke. These effects come from the high amount of phytochemicals found in the vegetable.
Strawberries typically get all the attention during the summer months, but this year, change that up and opt for blackberries instead. This berry has a sweet taste to it and will taste great eaten alone, tossed into your favorite protein shake, or added to a bowl of low-fat frozen vanilla yogurt for dessert.
Each cup you eat will provide just 62 calories, less than one gram of fat, 13.8 grams of carbohydrates—7.6 of those coming from dietary fiber, and 2 grams of protein, making it a nutritional powerhouse for optimal fat loss.
4. Home Made Fudgesicles
If you're the type of person who typically gravitates to ice cream as a way to cool down during the summer months, this year opt for making your own homemade fudgesicles instead.
To do this, simply buy a box of fat-free, sugar-free chocolate Jell-O pudding powder and blend together with 2.5 cups of skim milk. Add to that 1/2 cup of Splenda or your favorite sweetener and 1/2 scoop of chocolate protein powder. Pour into fudgesicle molds and let freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight.
These will offer you a higher dose of calcium than ice cream as well as be a source of protein—not to mention they'll be only about 35 calories per pop (assuming a 12 mold container is used).
Papayas are another summertime fruit that packs a powerful nutritional punch. This fruit is incredibly high in Vitamin C, and also contains the nutrients vitamin C, folate, potassium, and fiber. In addition to this, papaya helps to promote better digestive health by reducing the occurrence of colon cancer.
Males in particular will want to consider increasing their intake of papaya in their diet as if you combine it with green tea, you'll really decrease your chances of developing prostate cancer.
While not really a 'food', water should be increased during the summer months, even if you aren't active. Many people are quick to replace their water with sodas, beer, or mixed alcoholic beverages, which just puts you in a further state of dehydration.
While it's fine to have the odd beverage to treat yourself, be sure you're drinking extra water to compensate for this. If you really find that you're having a hard time getting the water down due to its bland taste then add a few slices of orange, lemon, lime, or even watermelon to the water. It will add a burst of flavor that proves to be quite refreshing.
7. Corn On The Cob
If you're on the hunt for something crunchy to place along your grilled chicken breast, rather than opting for potato chips and dip which is a popular choice for easy barbecue meals, go with corn on the cob instead.
This vegetable is incredibly sweet and will satisfy your craving for that crunch. It also provides a good source of carbohydrates, so is an excellent vegetable choice for those who are more active during the day.
Corn on the cob is also a good source of vitamin B1 and folate, so is a perfect food for anyone looking to bring up their intake of these nutrients. This side-dish also supplies you with a dose of beta-cryptoxanthin, which is an orange-red carotenoid that helps to reduce the risk of lung cancer.
8. Sweet Potato 'Fries'
If you aren't much of a corn fan, then another option for a sweet side dish to place beside your protein source is sweet potato fries. A small sweet potato contains just 54 calories and supplies 2 grams of dietary fiber per serving. They also supply you with Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, as well as potassium, helping enhance your energy levels.
Consider drizzling your sweet potatoes with a small amount of olive oil and whatever spices you prefer and then cooking them sliced, wrapped in tinfoil on the barbecue for home made fries that don't pack near the fat and calories as traditional fries do.
If you're looking for something to toast over the fire as a late-night snack, rather than choosing marshmallows, which is the typical sweet choice among many, opt for traditional popcorn. With microwave popcorn now the most convenient option, many people overlook popcorn made over the fire.
This snack is a great way to boost your dietary fiber intake, while supplying far fewer calories than four or five marshmallows would. Check out some of the popcorn seasoning products available if you wish to add additional flavor to it once it's popped.
Finally, the last sweet food you should add to your summer diet this coming year is cantaloupe. This melon is another great source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A, providing well over 100% of your daily needs per cup.
In addition to this, cantaloupe proves to be even more effective for protecting your eyesight than carrots do, as individuals who consume 3 or more servings of fruit per day show a decreased risk of developing macular degeneration.
At only 56 calories per cup of cantaloupe, this should be an easy addition to your fat loss diet.
So, be sure you're forming your meals this summer around these top rated foods. Getting in all the nutrients you need helps ensure you have the energy available to perform all the summer activities you're looking forward to.