Every guy loves a good BBQ—but eating a burger with all the fixings, a side of coleslaw, a slice of pie for dessert, and a beer to wash it down can add up to a 1,000-plus-calorie meal.
So don’t let your weekend party plans derail your training diet. Avoid these seven high-cal BBQ foods, and make some simple swaps to save on calories.
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Unfortunately, everyone’s favorite BBQ food is loaded with calories and fat. Coming in at the highest number of calories on the list, a 6-oz burger made with 80% lean ground beef has about 425 calories—and that’s without the bun. And let’s not forget the extra calories that ketchup, mustard, and pickles bring to the table.
That doesn’t mean you need to completely swear off burgers. But instead of maxing out your calorie allotment on just one item, cook leaner cuts of meat like bison and turkey. A 6-oz bison burger will run you around 300 calories; even better, the same size turkey burger runs only about 250 calories.
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In theory, coleslaw should be a completely healthy side dish. After all, it is made of shredded cabbage and carrots. Oh, wait—then there’s the mayonnaise, which packs 100 calories per tablespoon and can turn fiber-rich cabbage into a whopper of a side.
What’s a good BBQ without a cold beer, or two, or three? Sadly, everyone’s favorite party drink has about 150 calories per 12 oz—calories that add up when you get into multiple drinks. Even a light beer runs about 100 calories, which is better, but still not great.
We totally understand the need to chill out on weekends. So if you’re not going completely no-cal sober, try vodka or tequila with soda and a squeeze of lime—a shot of either is only 70 calories.
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4. Potato salad
Potatoes get a bad rap. Sure, they’re a starchy vegetable, but they do have some pretty important nutrients, like Vitamin C, potassium, and Vitamin B6.
Problem is, potato salad isn’t just potatoes: It’s a cup of potatoes, plus two tablespoons—at least—of mayo, adding up to about 300 calories.
To satisfy your starch craving, opt for grilled corn on the cob instead. One medium ear has about 100 calories, and it’s so sweet in the summer it doesn’t even need butter. Or, as with coleslaw, try a vinegar-based potato salad to cut back on calories.
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This seemingly innocent way to eat a burger actually adds about 150 calories—and that’s on top of the 425 calorie patty. In total, a standard burger and bun, even without cheese or fixings, is about 575 calories.
Better ways to enjoy your meat: Top it with lettuce and tomato, and eat it with a fork. Wrap it in a nice big leaf of dark greens and create an uber-healthy “taco.” Opt for a beef kebab with veggies.
Bottom line: Don’t waste your precious calories on two useless slabs of girly-man bread. It’s just not worth it.
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Bottled barbecue sauce is not only full of additives like high-fructose corn syrup and caramel coloring, but also packed with calories. That ¼-cup of barbecue sauce slathered on your chicken? It’ll eat up about 125 calories. A single tablespoon of barbecue sauce alone can have 14g of carbs.
Instead, marinate your bird in olive oil, a squeeze of lemon or lime, and some salt and pepper, and grill it up. Alternatively, use a zero-calorie hot sauce. The flavors will burst in your mouth—and weeks from now, you won’t be bursting out of your jeans.
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Is there anything more American than a piece of blueberry pie with whipped cream? Nope—but, clearly, desserts like this aren’t helping with America’s obesity crisis. After eating an entire meal full of calories, adding a 300-calorie slice of pie to your plate isn’t ideal for your waistline.
A better alternative: Take one nice bite of pie first—c’mon, we’re realists, not sadists—then move on to something lighter, say, a fruit-filled dessert like this frozen cherry and Greek yogurt bite.