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There is nothing worse than getting to BBQ season and losing track of your goals because there are so many gorgeous foods to eat. All is not lost though, BBQ food can be very healthy if cooked and prepared in the right way. Fantastic you might think, there are still some things you should be mindful of when eating at a BBQ. Read on to learn how to stay on track in BBQ season.

Eat the Right Meats

Protein-rich foods are amazing for your body. However, you must choose the right kind of meat. Make sure to double-check the packaging. Choose organic meat, which has no antibiotics, hormones, or toxins. Choose grass-fed meat which comes from animals that have only grazed on grass as opposed to grain-fed, which is low quality, full of pesticides and herbicides, and from GMOs. Not to mention that conventional meat comes from animals that are not free-ranged but lived in filthy confined conditions.

Marinate

AGEs (advanced glycation end-products) are compounds that can form in foods during cooking, especially during high-heat cooking. Research shows that AGEs are associated with increased inflammation, oxidative stress, and chronic diseases (heart disease, diabetes). The American Institute for Cancer Research (AIRC) recommends allowing protein to sit for 30 minutes in a marinade made with an acid – like vinegar, lemon juice, or even beer and wine – since this reduces AGEs by half.

Use Herbs & Spices

HCAs (heterocyclic amines) are formed when animal proteins are cooked, and they dramatically increase in number as temperature and cooking time increase. HCAs in large doses appear to be carcinogenic. Research shows that using herbs and spices (turmeric, curry leaf, torch ginger, lemongrass, rosemary oregano, sage, cayenne pepper, and thyme) have protective antioxidant effects and significantly reduced HCA production when beef was cooked.

Cook the Right Amount of Time

Research shows that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are chemicals formed when meats are cooked using high-temperature methods, such as grilling directly over open flames and charring. PAHs cause changes in DNA that may increase the risk of cancer. Therefore, you should keep your cooking time short, avoid direct contact with flames, and avoid charring your food. You can also cut your meat into smaller pieces so it’s done faster.

Skip the Lighter Fluid

A gas grill is easy to start, but charcoal adds a little extra flavor – just make sure it’s not also adding extra chemicals by using lighter fluid (this includes quick-start briquettes which are presoaked). Instead, make a fire the old-fashioned way with coal and a little newspaper. A charcoal chimney to sit in your grill makes this process a snap and is a minimal investment.

Don’t forget the veggies

A tasty alternative to salad at BBQ’s is to have grilled vegetables. This tasty option is so simple and can be done with vegetables on skewers or just simply by putting the vegetables directly onto the grill. If you want to use skewers or kebab sticks, make sure you soak them for 30 minutes before so they don’t catch fire! The best thing about grilling vegetables is you don’t have to add extra oils.

Be Mindful of Your Plate

Keep an eye on how you balance your plate. Make sure you eat a balanced amount of meat and vegetables. You don’t want to overdose on one or the other and leave yourself in a deficit. Use your usual ratios of food and don’t overeat, which can be very easy with help yourself buffet-style meals. 

Avoid Chips and Dips

I know this rule is very hard to follow as the dips are packed with flavor. However, many dips are filled with calories and unhealthy ingredients. If you know you are keen on chips and dips why not make your own tzatziki, a low-fat-based yogurt dip, or hummus, a delicious chickpea-tahini-lemon dip. Another way you can still enjoy chips is to make your own. Wraps that are cut into triangles and grilled allow you to track the calories before you even get to the BBQ. That way you can still enjoy the chips and dips but know you won’t come off track.

Avoid Simple Carbs

At BBQ’s there are bread rolls for every part of the meal! Avoid filling up on bread. Bread at BBQs leads to bloating, so focus on the good carbs. This means you won’t miss out on food groups but you won’t feel full or stodgy after eating.

Use the Right BBQ

If you know in the summer months you enjoy BBQs, make sure you invest in the right BBQ. Some BBQs come with separate grills so if you are choosing fish instead of meat for a lower fat food option, separate grills are brilliant for that. BBQGuys have loads of different setups and options to choose the best BBQ for you and your diet.

Now that you know how to stay on track in BBQ season, you can remain healthy, enjoy the outdoors, and achieve your fitness goals.

To a Fitter Healthier You,

Adriana Albritton

The Fitness Wellness Mentor

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