As we head into the middle of summer, you’re more than likely going to be attending or hosting quite a few barbecues (or cookouts to my American readers) over the coming weeks and months. While barbecues are great fun and the food is very tasty, in terms of health and fitness, barbecues aren’t the best thing for you. If you’re not careful the processed meats, high calorie desserts and waist expanding drinks can sabotage your healthy eating efforts in just a few short hours.
The good news is that with a bit of planning and creative thinking, you can turn these traditionally unhealthy outdoor gatherings into something a lot healthier and today I’m here to help you do exactly that with The Free Fitness Tips Ultimate Healthy Summer BBQ Guide. In this guide I’ll be discussing the things that make barbecues unhealthy and also covering what you can do to make sure you stay healthy at barbecues. Follow these tips and you’ll have your healthiest summer yet and come out of it in just as good a shape as you entered it.
1) Clean The Barbecue
One of the biggest mistakes people make when hosting barbecues is that they fail to clean the barbecue before every use. By not cleaning the barbecue every time, discarded, burnt pieces of food build up at the bottom of it and then release carcinogenic compounds into the foods you cook on the barbecue next time around. Cleaning the barbecue, gets rid of these burnt pieces of food, prevents carcinogenic compounds getting into the foods you are cooking and also makes these foods taste a lot nicer.
If you don’t currently have a barbecue cleaner, the Grill Brush Pro is a great tool which gets rid of all the built up food without scratching your barbecue.
2) Barbecue On A Medium To High Heat
Another key mistake that many people make when hosting barbecues is overcooking the food by cooking it on the maximum heat. Not only does this burn the food and have a negative impact on its taste but it can also lead to the formation of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) in meats. HCAs are dangerous, carcinogenic compounds and something that you definitely want to avoid. The good news is that by simply cooking your meat on a lower heat and preventing it from getting burnt, the HCAs are much less likely to form and you’ll be able to enjoy healthy, HCA free meat.
3) Go For Natural Foods
One of the main reasons most of the foods at barbecues are so unhealthy is that they’re not natural. Burgers and hot dogs are two prime examples of foods that you’ll find at almost every barbecue which are full of processed meat. The good news is that there’s a simple solution – eat natural foods.
When it comes to natural food, there’s plenty of choices. Grilled meats taste great when cooked on a barbecue and they’re also a lot more nutritious and generally much lower in calories than their processed counterparts. Grilled fish is also a great choice at barbecues which is full of healthy natural fats and many other beneficial nutrients. If neither of these options take your fancy, grilled fruits and grilled vegetables are also a very tasty, low calorie choice that are packed with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Alternatively, if you’re feeling really creative, you can even prepare some home made burgers or sausages and enjoy the taste of these classic barbecue foods without the processed ingredients and excess calories.
4) Marinate Your Foods
Marinating your food is a simple but effective way to stay healthy at barbecues. Not only does it make your food taste a whole lot better but it also adds extra nutrition and provides additional protection from the HCAs discussed above. This is because many of the nutrients in the herbs that make up marinades are powerful antioxidants which protect your body’s cells from dangerous compounds.
To make a healthy marinade, simply mix a few tablespoons of olive oil with a selection of herbs, such basil, marjoram, rosemary and thyme. Then leave the fish, meat or vegetables to soak in the marinade for a few hours before you barbecue them.
5) Don’t Fill Up On Bread
If you go to a lot of barbecues then you probably don’t think twice about enjoying a burger or hot dog with a bread roll. However, with an average bread roll containing around 100 calories and relatively little in terms of nutritional value, just two or three rolls can add a lot of excess calories and have a negative impact on your healthy eating plans.
Instead of bread, fill up on vegetables. Not only are vegetables loaded with nutrients but they’re also very low in calories which means you can eat lots of them without worrying about weight gain.
6) Don’t Load Up On Condiments
Condiments are another thing that you probably don’t give a second thought to at barbecues. However, just 1 tablespoon of tomato ketchup contains 25 calories while 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise contains 50 calories. Salad dressings are even worse with a tablespoon of Caesar dressing packing a whopping 78 calories and a tablespoon of ranch dressing containing a similarly damaging 73 calories. These calories can quickly add up and by consuming just two or three tablespoons, you get into triple figure calories.
To prevent these condiment calories from sabotaging your weight loss efforts, try eating barbecue foods without condiments. You might be surprised by just how good they taste without. Alternatively, if you really can’t go without your condiments, try making your own. There are plenty of healthy, natural recipes online which contain much less sugar and a lot less calories than their processed counterparts.
7) Focus On Fruits For Dessert
Although the desserts at barbecues may seem tempting, most of them are rich in sugar and calories. However, by focusing on fruit when it gets to desert time, you can enjoy a sweet, satisfying dish that is full of natural nutrients and contains none of the excess calories.
There are plenty of options when it comes to making fruit based deserts. If you don’t have much time, fruit and yoghurt, a fruit salad or fruit smoothies are all quick and easy choices. However, if you have a bit more time and want to get creative, there are plenty of natural, healthy recipes online that you can try.
8) Limit Your Liquid Calories
Food isn’t the only thing that can cause you to pile on the pounds at barbecues with many of the drinks on offer being absolutely loaded with calories. For example, a 330ml can of Coca Cola contains 140 calories and a 330ml bottle of Stella Artois contains 154 calories. If there’s cocktails on offer, they’re even worse, with Long Island Iced Teas, Mai Tais, Margaritas and Mud Slides all containing over 600 calories per glass.
The best way to limit your liquid calories is to stick to zero calorie water. However, if you don’t want to give up your alcohol all summer, low calorie beers and cocktails are a great option. On average, low calorie beers contain 30% fewer calories than regular beers and some of the better brands taste almost identical to regular beers. Low calorie cocktails are also a great way to cut the calories while maintaining the great taste of the drink, with most of them containing less than 250 calories per glass.
The occasional burger or beer at a barbecue isn’t going to have a massive impact on your weight loss goals. However, when you consider that one high calorie beer, one high calorie burger and one high calorie dessert can put you well over the 1,000 calorie mark, you do need to be careful and have a plan to keep your food healthy most of the time when attending barbecues. The Free Fitness Tips Ultimate Healthy Summer BBQ Guide gives you that plan and if you follow the tips listed above you’ll be well on your way to a healthy, happy summer.
Now I want to hear from you guys. Do you have any healthy barbecue tips or strategies that you’d like to add? Have you got any healthy barbecue recipes that you’d like to share? Let me know by leaving a comment below.