Last July 4, Joey Chestnut earned his third consecutive victory in Coney Island’s Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest—the gustatory champ downed 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes. That jaw-dropping stat is made scarier still when you realize that Chestnut consumed over 20,000 calories in that time. That’s a whole day’s worth of calories ... per minute.
Now, your own Independence Day festivities may not rival Chestnut’s, but these days you could easily consume a full day of calories in one sitting—and that’s before you reach for seconds. When grills go wild, so do waistlines.
Luckily, for the best-selling weight-loss books Eat This, Not That! and Drink This, Not That! we created the following list of the best and worst summer barbecue foods. Choose the healthier option in each category, and save yourself over 800 calories (or more) at each meal.
Best and Worst Summer BBQ Meat
Pork Tenderloin (6 oz)
11.5 g fat (4 g saturated)
95 mg sodium
Cheeseburger (5 oz)
41 g fat (15 g saturated)
735 mg sodium
Pork tenderloin is one of the most underrated cuts in the meat case. It's not just lean, but loaded with thiamin, a B vitamin that converts sugar into energy. Compare that to the cheeseburger, which has nearly double the calories and four times the amount of fat.
Then again, maybe only a burger will do for you. If so, switch to grass-fed beef. You’ll get a leaner chuck with a higher concentration of omega-3s. Or check out our recipe for the healthy, delicious Green Chili Burger in our indispensable list from Cook This, Not That! of the 15 Best Recipes for Cooking Yourself Skinny! In just minutes you can save yourself time, money, and hundreds of calories!
and Worst Summer BBQ Side
Coleslaw (1/2 c)
8 g fat (1 g saturated)
350 mg sodium
Potato Salad (1/2 c)
12 g fat (3 g saturated)
430 mg sodium
Potato salad is one of those foods that sounds healthier than it is. After all, potatoes ... good. Salad ... good. Here's the problem: Mayonnaise ... bad. Very bad. (Check out our shocking list of caloric calamities in 30 “Healthy” Foods That Aren’t. You'll understand just how food marketers try to trick you into thinking that salads, wraps, smoothies and other favorite foods are healthy.)
Of course, coleslaw is a vehicle for mayo as well, so it comes down to which vehicle is better for the environment that is your body. Coleslaw wins here by a nose; it has fewer calories and less fat, sodium, and carbs.
That said, if you have your heart set on potato salad, prepare it like the Germans do—that is, with a mustard base instead of mayo. This will cut close to 100 calories from each serving. (For other free health, fitness and nutrition secrets that will improve your life right this second, follow me on twitter here.)
and Worst Summer BBQ Snack
Tortilla Chips and Guacamole (about 10 chips)
11 g fat (3 g saturated)
280 mg sodium
Corn on the Cob with Butter
7 g fat (4 g saturated)
190 mg sodium
It’s an American birthright to eat corn, but truthfully, it offers little nutritionally compared to a powerhouse like avocado. So stick with the chips. Choose a whole-grain chip like those made by Garden of Eatin’ and you’ll get a boost of fiber to go along with guacamole’s good monounsaturated fats.
Still want corn? Fine, but make it healthier by cutting back on the butter and sprinkling it with chili powder and lime juice. And remember: Cutting calories isn’t always a matter of watching what you eat. Watch what you drink, and you can trim over 400 calories from your daily diet, without actually altering your food consumption at all. See this must-have list of The 20 Worst Drinks in America for the liquids that should never pass your lips. If you go with the healthier alternatives listed you can lose more than two pounds of belly fat per week!
and Worst Summer BBQ Salad
Fruit Salad (1/2 c)
0 g fat
5 mg sodium
13 g sugars
Iceberg Salad with Ranch
11 g fat (2 g saturated)
240 mg sodium
Besides mayonnaise, ranch is responsible for turning more healthy foods unhealthy than any other condiment. Instead of munching on the greens, dice up some melons, kiwi, and pineapple and then toss in a few grapes for good measure. This salad’s naturally sweet and loaded with fiber and antioxidants.
Your summer feast starts right here, with our FREE grilling guides. You'll get dozens of recipes and cool techniques that will wow your family, friends, and neighbors with flavor.
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