Summer BBQ. Dietary Nightmare???

So summer has finally arrived.  Under normal circumstances, making this declaration at the end of July would make me a bit late to the party, but with the buckets of rain that have been falling all summer long, I’d have to say that I’m right by waiting to say it!  Every weekend since Memorial Day has been filled with family fun.  It seems like every weekend brings a journey to someone’s house for a gathering that includes food and drink.  I think most people experience similar events.  Who doesn’t want to be out and about visiting friends and family?

Many of my training clients are busy with vacations, family events, and gatherings that lead to many extra calories over the summer months.  This made me think a bit about my industry.  Most people claim that the winter months are the time of the year where the scales are stashed away for fear of bringing the bad news.  While this is true because of more time spent indoors, I feel like summer can also impact the waistline in negative ways too!

I’m going to present a very basic example of how a BBQ can pack on tons of excess calories.  For the sample meal, I’ve provided just the main course, not taking into account the snacks that often accompany social gatherings.  Here is the basic meal and some nutrition info that I’ve gathered from MyFitnessPal.

Hamburger on a bun (no cheese) with ketchup.

-Hot dog on a bun with ketchup.

Serving of both macaroni salad and potato salad (store bought in plastic container).

-One bottle of Lagunitas IPA beer.

Total Nutrition Facts

Calories: 1460

Fat: 59 grams

Carbohydrates: 134 grams

Protein: 47 grams

So this was pretty basic but you can see that at 1460 calories, this meal can account for at least half of your daily calories, depending on your daily needs!  This doesn’t include the chips, soda, extra beers, or cheese on your burger!  All of the extras will most likely add between 500 to 1000 calories onto your day.  Most hot dog and hamburger buns are made of enriched white bread, which are very fast digesting carbohydrates that will likely turn straight into stored fat.  With most of the calories coming from fat and carbs, there aren’t many quality calories present at your typical backyard barbecue.

Obviously, I’m not telling you to not have fun this summer, but if you’re trying to watch your waistline, beware!  Here are a few things that I usually do when it comes to hosting or attending barbecues.  Don’t worry, people will only think you’re weird for a little while.  I’ll also include a couple of healthy recipes at the end of this post.

Bring a healthier side dish.  I’m no chef, so I usually go onto Pinterest for healthier side dishes.  (Yes, gym rat dudes use Pinterest too.)  Opt to bring a healthy fruit salad or a healthy green salad.

Turkey or Chicken Burgers.  They generally have less calories than your store bought beef hamburger patties.

Try to start liking mustard.  I know there are a lot of die hard ketchup people out there, but mustard adds little to no calories as a condiment and no sugar, unless it’s honey mustard.

Bring Buns:  I use 100% whole grain Sandwich Thins by Arnold.  They’re around 40 calories less than regular hamburger buns, contain a lot of healthy fiber and aren’t as processed.  The fact that they’re whole grain adds a slower digesting carb to your meal.

Instead of Potato Salad, try baked sweet potatoes! 

Before you eat, drink more water.  This may help you fill your plate less by feeling a bit fuller.

Drink light beer.  At least try to.  This one is tough for me because I’m a lover of a good craft beer.

Try making a few small changes to save some calories.  We live in Northeastern Ohio.  Summer is short.  Enjoy it.  If you indulge at a barbecue, don’t sweat it.  Get back to the gym on Monday and keep working towards your fitness goals!


Here are a few of my go-to BBQ recipes:
Turkey Burger Recipe

I found this one a while back on a powerlifting forum.  The recipe calls for you to cook these in a pan, but you can grill them instead!!!

20 oz. extra-lean ground turkey
Mrs. Dash salt-free seasoning
1/2 cup of chopped red onions
5 slices of 2% American cheese
1 cup of raw spinach
1 cup of portobello mushroom halves
2 tbsp. light vinaigrette dressing
5 whole wheat hamburger buns


Mix 1/2 cup of chopped onions with ground turkey.
Form five 4-ounce patties with the ground turkey/onion mixture.
Sprinkle seasoning.
Set two skillets on the stove and set heat at medium to medium high.
Spray one skillet with nonstick cooking spray and drizzle 2 tbsp of light vinaigrette dressing on the other.
Place patties on the cooking spray skillet and cook to preferred temperature.
Meanwhile, place mushrooms in the skillet with dressing and stir occasionally until they are cooked to preference.
Once you flip the patties, top each with a slice of cheese.
When fully cooked, place each patty on a bun and top with even amounts of mushrooms and spinach.


Yours in Health



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