Don’t allow your Memorial Day barbecue to become your dietary downfall. First, skip the booze. Alcohol metabolizes before food, and those extra, empty calories are often stored as fat. Stick to water, or if you’re going to imbibe in an adult beverage, stick to wine (which has resveratrol, a plant compound, that has been known to enhance endurance and cardiac function) or straight liquor. Still, alcohol intake must be kept in moderation.
Second, remember that no food is a “free food,” meaning that even healthy foods carry calories. Keep your portions under control. Apply these additional six tips to keep your six-pack from turning into a spare tire:
Remove the skin when you’re grilling chicken. Half of the saturated fat in chicken breast and thigh meat comes from the skin. Four ounces of grilled chicken breast with the skin contains 223 calories, the same four ounces without the skin? Just 187.
Watch the Marinades
Preferably you’ll make your own marinades or dressings, so you know exactly what’s going into them. If not, check the label for high sugar and fat content. Opt for a vinegar base for a low-calorie and low-sodium sauce. The sweetness of the sauce comes from the brown sugar, and the savory aspect is built by a small amount of ketchup. For added heat, try ground or crushed red peppers, or hot sauce.
Hormone- and pesticide-free meat is what you’re after. The less it’s processed, the better it is for your gut and overall health.
Watch Your Buns
Go with a whole wheat or sprouted grain bun or bread for your (lean-meat) burgers. Doing so will help spikes in insulin, which can lead to weight gain and an energy crash later.
DIY Potato Salad
Many pre-packaged potato salads come packed with excess fat and cream-based dressings. If you didn’t make it or didn’t see the person make it, rethink eating it. Otherwise, if you’re the chef, swap out creamy or fatty dressings for other flavorings, such as red bell pepperor celery. Alternatively, try tossing warm potatoes with vinegar to infuse them with flavor.
Know Your Meat
Aside from knowing where your meat comes from, it pays to know which meats offers the most bang for your buck when you’re looking to replace hamburgers: pork tenderloin, beef flank, and sirloin steakcontain less saturated fat than beef burgers, sausages, or hot dogs. More exotic, but still healthy, alternatives include bison, ostrich, and venison.
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