It’s that time of year when students start counting down the days until classes are out and summer officially begins. As the weather heats up, our activity levels and nutrition change.
People naturally become more active, replacing those lazy, snowy Sundays bundled up watching movies with a nice morning bike ride or a stroll with their dog. This is obviously favorable to our health.
Some changes in our diet are not so desirable. I’d like to think the summer equals more fruits and vegetables, but I’m a realist and understand it most likely means more hamburgers, hot dogs and adult beverages. There’s nothing wrong with those types of food, but the context of the entire diet must be examined.
I’ve compiled a few quick and easy tips to make good decisions at those epic summer cookouts that seem to be a no-win situation for your beach body. Accept that invitation. Your fitness goals are safe, and, seriously, who passes up a good cookout?
1. Eat something beforehand. If you want to avoid pigging out, don’t show up on an empty stomach. About an hour before heading to the cookout, have something light, generally about 100-300 calories, predominantly coming from protein and carbohydrates. Protein provides the greatest satiety of all macronutrients, and the carbohydrates will cause increases in blood glucose and insulin, which will increase short-term fullness. This way you don’t eat the entire rack of ribs. Some Greek yogurt and an apple would be perfect.
2.Cheeseburger vs. Hot Dog. The American battle, fighting for mouths at every cookout. So which is the better choice? When it comes to calories, hot dogs win, packing a deceptive 300 calories, while a fourth pound of cheeseburger will hover around 500 calories. You can easily save yourself 100 calories by passing on the cheese.
Keep in mind these are averages without the bun and condiments. Also, if you happen to know the host, don’t be afraid to suggest some healthier options, such as leaner cuts of beef and lower fat hot dogs. Many alternatives can drastically reduce calories without sacrificing taste, such as Oscar Mayer’s extra-lean hot dogs with only 50 calories apiece. If possible, always opt for whole-wheat buns over white – the additional fiber will promote satiety.
3. Best Brew. What’s a hot summer day without a cold one? Well, at least that’s what my friends say. The discrepancy between beer choices is noticeable. Some of the higher calorie options include Guinness Extra Stout, Sam Adams Winter Lager and Budweiser American Ale with 176, 200 and 182 calories, respectively. Their thinner counterparts include Guinness Draught, Sam Adams light and Budweiser Select slicing calories to126, 119 and 99, respectively.
These differences may seem minuscule for a single beer, but how many people only have one? Cheers to you if you do. At the end of the day, this switch could easily save you a couple hundred calories.
Hopefully, these tips have provided you with more insight on how your diet need not be chicken and broccoli on repeat. Food avoidance leads to anxiety and, eventually, over indulgence. It’s about smart choices, not tough ones.