Backyard barbecues, cottage weekends, company picnics and socializing on restaurant patios, usually mean more calories. And let’s face it – a season that celebrates ice cream, potato salad, hot dogs, barbecued spareribs and icy cold beer isn’t exactly known for producing hard bodies.
The key is knowing how to side-step extra calories found in surprisingly high amounts in many summer foods and beverages.
The following 8 strategies can help you maintain your weight during the summer months. Of course, they’re effective year-round, too.
Plan weekend menus in advance
If the unstructured – and social – nature of summer weekends make it easy to overeat, map out your meals, snacks and happy hour nibbles in advance.
Doing so will allow you to have healthy foods on hand, whether you have a quiet weekend or you’re entertaining family and friends in the backyard or at the cottage.
If you’re trying to lose weight, write in your food diary the foods and portion sizes you intend to eat on the weekend in advance. You’ll be far more likely to stick to your plan.
Grill leaner meats
Stick to lean cuts of meat such as sirloin, flank steak, eye of the round, beef tenderloin, lean ground beef, pork tenderloin and center cut pork chops.
A six-ounce cooked top sirloin steak, for example, has 295 calories whereas the same serving size of rib eye steak delivers 430. That’s before all the fixings.
Save fatty ribs for occasional treats. A six-ounce serving of cooked pork spareribs serves up 600 calories and 44 g of fat, not to mention all the sodium if they’re slathered in barbecue sauce.
Instead of pork sausages (300 calories per one 3.5-ounce sausage), more often grill turkey sausages which have nearly half the calories (183 per 3.5 ounces).
Avoid piling up the carbs
To save calories at summer meals, limit yourself to one starchy side, be it corn on the cob, a baked potato, potato salad, quinoa salad, grilled garlic bread or a hamburger bun.
Fill the extra space on your plate with grilled vegetables, green salad or vegetable-based salads.
Make smart substitutions
Small compromises can add up to big calorie savings. Serve burgers on thinner whole grain buns (Ozery Bakery’s One Bun products are my go-to’s.) Consider skipping the slice of cheese on your burger (can you taste it anyway?).
Substitute half (or more) of the mayonnaise in potato and pasta salads with plain yogurt.
Be selective at appetizer hour
Among with the rest of your spread, offer lower calorie options for you and your health-conscious guests. Serve crudité with guacamole, tzatziki or hummus, whole grain crackers with antipasto or smoked salmon on cucumber slices.
Limit sugary drinks
Lemonade (144 calories per 12 ounces), iced tea (130 calories per 12 ounces) or a Tim Horton’s Iced Capp (470 calories per large 22-ounce serving) may sound refreshing, but they’re loaded with sugar calories.
Reserve sugar-sweetened drinks for occasional treats. Use sugar-containing sports drinks for hydration during exercise that lasts longer than one hour, not as everyday beverages.
Instead, quench your thirst with plain or sparkling water with a splash of 100 per-cent fruit juice. Or, try coconut water – a source of electrolytes – with a hit of pineapple juice.
Watch alcohol calories
Many people don’t consider calories from cocktails as part of their daily intake. Yet, five ounces of wine delivers 125 calories, 12 ounces of regular beer has 110 to 200 (the higher the alcohol content, the higher the calories) and 1.5 ounces of 40 per cent spirits supply 100. Vodka coolers can have as many as 300 calories and 8 teaspoons of sugar per serving.
Plus, alcohol can rev up your appetite, almost immediately after consumption.
Lighter cocktails include light beer, wine spritzers, vodka and soda or light coolers.
Limit yourself to no more than one drink per hour. To slow your pace, drink two glasses of water between alcoholic drinks.
Stick to a safe weekly limit of 10 drinks for women (no more than two drinks on most days) and 15 drinks for men (no more than three drinks on most days). If weight loss is your goal, aim for less.
Limit summer desserts
Yes, it is the season of ice cream, berry pie and butter tarts. And you should enjoy them, but in moderation.
Indulging once or twice a week, even once a day, might be appropriate depending on your health goals, the rest of your diet and your activity level. When you do treat yourself, though, keep your portion size small.
Lower calorie summer desserts include fruit sorbet, frozen banana “soft serve” (pureed frozen banana), fresh fruit salad with chopped mint or strawberries marinated (for 30 minutes) in balsamic vinegar.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.