10 Tips to Cut The Calories at Your Next BBQ

Aug 9, 2015 //

With delicious hamburgers, ribs and hot dogs all around, some people worry about eating too many calories from barbecued food. Worry no more! There are plenty ways to cut the calories while still having a good time. Let’s look at 10 of them.

1. Include Veggies

Meat is great, but it doesn’t have to be the only thing you serve at your barbecue. Grilled vegetables drizzled with just a bit of olive oil, and covered with spices are delicious. And if you start out with a serving of veggies, you’re likely to eat less of the fatty stuff, meaning fewer calories from your barbecue meal overall.

2. Drink Plenty of Water

Water is one of the best ways to cut the calories from a meal. If you’re well-hydrated, you’ll feel less hungry (people frequently confuse thirst with hunger). And on a hot summer day when you’ve been standing over an even hotter grill, the chances of dehydration run high. Try drinking a glass or two of water and seeing if it encourages better self-control. As a bonus, drinking water will keep you away from the soda, which can be a huge source of empty calories.

3. Pick Lean Cuts of Meat

When you buy the meat for your barbeque, look for leaner varieties. You can cut a significant amount of calories from the feast by picking meats with less fat. For example, if you make your burgers with lean beef, they’ll be much less greasy than if you pick ground beef with a high fat content.

4. Consider Substitutions

If a burger made with lean beef doesn’t sound like your kind of burger, you can try making different sorts of substitutions instead. Try skipping the burger altogether and instead serve up healthy, delicious grilled chicken sandwiches. If you brush a chicken breast with marinade and grill it, you can have an absolutely delicious chicken sandwich that will be much lower in fat than a burger.

You can also consider serving lean steak or making veggie and/or turkey burgers. There are plenty of ways you can replace fattening foods with lower calorie options if you get creative about it.

5. Pick One Splurge

If you’re a guess at well-hosted barbecue, and you can’t affect what’s being served, one way to lower your calorie intake is to pick one item you’ll splurge on. Decide whether you want the delicious greasy ribs, the sinfully tasty potato salad, or the gooey double chocolate brownie. Really enjoy that one thing instead of trying to eat it all.

6. Have a Snack

It may sound counterintuitive but one of the best ways to cut calories off a given meal is to enjoy a low calorie, healthy snack beforehand. Eating a small salad or an apple just before your barbecue will help stave your appetite.

7. Get Active

After you’ve eaten, don’t just sit around and eat more. Stand up, throw away your plate, and engage in one of the physical activities that are so common at summer barbecues. Throw a frisbee, go on a little walk, or just play with the kids. You’ll eat less, and you’ll even burn some calories.

8. Replace Dessert with Fruit

Desserts are almost always impressive high calorie traps; but there are other ways to satisfy that sweet tooth. Serve an ice-cold watermelon, grill pineapple, or make fruit skewers. These are all delicious ways to cut the calories from that next barbecue.

9. Rethink Sides

Many traditional sides served at a barbecue are pretty heavy fare; but there’s no reason you have to have mayo-heavy potato salad and/or greasy chips at your party. Instead, you could serve a green salad, pita chips and hummus, or a fruit and vegetable platter. It may not feel as traditional, but done right, it’ll still be delicious.

10. Pick a Diet Buddy

It’s hard to eat sensible and with restraint in any situation, but it’s especially hard when you’re surrounded by delicious food. People often have an easier time if they know that they’re accountable to someone. So before you go to your next barbecue, find a buddy that you know you’ll have to account to. Tell him or her what you’re planning on eating, and then check in with him or her at the end of the event; knowing you’ll have to fess up can makes it easier to stay strong and not take a second or (help you) a third helping.

Of course, if you mess up and overeat, don’t beat yourself up. Just learn from your mistake and try to do better next time.

Christian Heftel

Christian Heftel is a freelance writer and fitness enthusiast. He is a certified yoga instructor, a teacher of Yau Man Kung Fu and a general lover of outdoor activity. When he's not writing, he enjoys spending time with his wife and son.

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