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June 26th, 2018

Living on F-Factor: Summer BBQ Survival Guide

You asked, we listened. Follower question of the week.

Q: It’s fully BBQ season now – welp! 

A: Nothing says summer like pool parties and BBQs. However, sometimes we find it harder to stay on track with delicious items like hot dogs, potato salad, and coleslaw on the menu. Luckily, we know a thing or two about having fun in the sun while achieving your weight maintenance goals. Whether you’re at the cabana or manning the grill, we got you! Check out our pro tips and tricks for enjoying outdoor barbecues, picnics and pool parties, plus some of our favorite summertime recipes here: 

GENERAL TIPS

While you’re filling your plate at a barbecue, or snacking poolside with some friends, aim for foods high in fiber (whole grains, fruits and veggies) and protein (lean meats, fish and cheeses). Fiber and protein are the two nutrients that take the longest to digest. It is this perfect combination of foods that keeps your already normal serum glucose levels consistent, leading to improved energy for the rest of the party. Also, since fiber has only 0 calories per gram, and protein has 4 calories per gram, you are guaranteed the least caloric intake with the most food intake.

SLOSH THE SAUCE
With barbecues, comes barbecue sauce. One tablespoon of sweet barbecue sauce has 20 calories, 4 carbohydrates and no fiber. Although this doesn’t seem like a lot of calories, who only uses 1 tablespoon of BBQ sauce? Eliminating sauces  (i.e. opting for simply grilled chicken rather than a breast slathered in BBQ sauce) can be an easy way to lighten up your dish.

Can’t forgo the tangy sweetness of BBQ sauce? Annie’s Organic Original BBQ Sauce is the #FFACTORAPPROVED pick – read why here.

CHOOSE LEAN PROTEINS
 Lean meats such as chicken, fish, turkey and sirloin provide less calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol than high fat meats such as hotdogs and full fat hamburger meat. 1 oz. of lean protein has 45-65 less calories and 5-8 grams less fat than high fat meat. Opt for chicken or shrimp skewers, and if your hamburger craving is a must, choose USDA Select or Choice grades of lean beef trimmed of fat, such as ground sirloin.
SUN'S OUT = BUNS OUT
  Replace the hamburger bun (or hotdog roll) with a lettuce wrap or simply place your meat over a veggie packed salad to lower the net carb of your plate. If you are going to have your burger, bun and all, opt for one of the whole grain variety. Whole grain products have more fiber than white bread, and fiber, being the indigestible part of carbohydrate, provides bulk without any calories. AKA you’re filling up, without filling you out.

Also, don’t forget you can always go topless. By removing the top half of the bun, you still get the bread as a vessel for your protein but for less carbs and calories; this gives you a nice balance.

SALADS TO SKIP
The word “salad” doesn’t always mean a healthier option. Traditional potato and pasta salads are prepared with heavy creams, condiments, and sauces, which can add up calorically. Most of these, such as mayo or Italian dressing for example, are starches too. Their starchy base means these salad pack excess calories in the form of carbohydrates without any fiber, which may cause drops in blood sugar. This can make you feel lethargic and irritable shortly after eating them. So, which “salads” get the green light? Those that are usually green to begin with! The summer months bring the freshest, most delicious produce of the year, you must take advantage!
POOLSIDE? LET'S SKINNY DIP

Picking at snacks poolside is part of the lounging experience. Although chips and dip are easy to serve and enjoy, we recommend healthier, lower carb/trans-fat, smart swaps like veggies and our favorite #FFACTORAPPROVED dip. ½ cup of fresh-cut vegetables contains ~20 calories and give you a little fiber boost too. Endive, especially, makes a great dip vessel, but bell peppers, carrots, cucumber, radishes, celery, broccoli and cauliflower all work great too, and won’t spoil in the sun too quickly.

Savory dips like French Onion Dip and Veggie Dip can be made healthier and lighter by swapping out sour cream for nonfat Greek yogurt. Nonfat Greek yogurt contains about half the calories and fat, and 3 times the protein of sour cream. By simply mixing in a packet of soup mix like Lipton, you can have a low cal dip in under a minute.

DRINK RESPONSIBLY

Although alcohol is allowed on The F-Factor Diet, drinking in the sun can speed up the effects of alcohol, and of course, some choices will be better than others. It is important to drink adequate water when the sun is hot, especially if you are drinking alcohol—alcohol plus sun can equal headache and dehydration. Drinking three liters of water every day is great for your skin, helps regulate bowel function, and will prevent dehydration.

In regard to what to drink when imbibing, we have some refreshing options. While most beers or malt beverages like wine coolers are higher in carb, there are some low-carb beers, like Budweiser Select 55, and other carbonated alcoholic beverages that are #FFACTORAPPROVED in moderation (read more about low carb beers here). Chilled wine or spirits (vodka, tequila) on the rocks or with club soda will always be your best bet. Rosé and light white wines like sauvignon blanc and Sancerre are refreshing in the summer months. And while a sommelier would likely find this act deplorable, try adding ice to your wine. This helps to keep you hydrated and cooled down, in addition to slowing your actual alcohol consumption so you don’t accidentally get a little too tipsy. Remember, it’s all fun and games until you’ve misplaced your phone at the bottom of a pool, and unintentionally raid the snack cabinet… For #FFACTORAPPROVED summer cocktails recipes, see below.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

(1) Simply grill it – skipping sauces like BBQ sauce is an easy way to cut calories.

(2) Skew towards skewers – they’re usually lean proteins, and proper portions.

(3) Go topless – the bottom bun is the best part, and this gives a better balance.

(4) Skip the potato and pasta salad – create your own salad using fresh lettuce like spinach, arugula, and romaine as the base instead.

(5) HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE – symptoms of dehydration mimic those of hunger. Both sun and alcohol (especially together) can take a toll on your body’s water levels, so it’s important to drink plenty of water.

GRILLING SAFETY

Grilling is a great way to enjoy the warm weather of the summer months, but as the saying goes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire; when it comes to firing up the barbecue, safety should be of utmost importance. There are two realms of concern when it comes to grilling. The first is the obvious, the immediate danger of fire, smoke inhalation, burns etc. The second, and lesser thought-about issue regards the harmful agents that develop when foods get torched.

When foods, primarily meats, come in contact with fire (intense flames, smoke and heat), two known cancer-causing agents, heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), can form. The good news is that by following a few key grilling practices, one can significantly cut the formation of HCA and PAH on barbecued food. A great place to start is to remember this: the faster foods are cooked on the grill, the less likely they’ll develop dangerous charring. Therefore, avoid cooking meat past its goal temperature (165 degrees for ground poultry; 160 degrees for ground red meats or mixtures and fresh pork; or 145 degrees for red meat steaks or chops). For more tips on grilling safely, click here.

TO KEEP GRILLING ACCIDENTS TO A MINIMUM...

(1) Clean your grill regularly to avoid grease buildup. Grease can make your food more charred than you want it to be.

(2) Even though the party decorations are adorable, they can easily catch fire. So, keep your decorations away from the grill.

(3) When you’re manning the grill, let your guests come to you. Don’t leave the grill unattended. If left unattended, a fire can start, or your food can become overcooked.

(4) Double check to make sure the grill is turned off when you are done.

PRO TIP: Throw some sliced vegetables on the grill – asparagus is in season and grills nicely, as does bell peppers, eggplant, mushrooms and zucchini.

SUMMERTIME RECIPES

For more summertime recipes, click here.