The 4th of July is all about friends, family and food, and you can still have fun without sacrificing your healthy habits or beach body. Health experts Dr. Wayne Andersen, medical director of Take Shape for Life, and Cristina Rivera, a registered dietitian and president of Nutrition In Motion PC, share some tips for how to enjoy the holiday without a BBQ hangover the day after.
How to survive the BBQ:
- Use whole wheat buns: Filling up on high glycemic index foods like potato chips, ice cream, sodas and full-calorie beers spikes insulin and opens the floodgates for fat storage, according to Dr. Andersen. “Most guys don’t realize that insulin, not testosterone, is the key hormone in the body. It determines your rate of aging, level of inflammation and whether your body is in a fat storage or burning mode,” says Andersen. “White bread causes a spike in your insulin and makes your body store fat. Switching white bread for whole wheat, rye, or sourdough buns can keep the fat at bay and help control insulin.”
- Grill lean meats: Lowering your fat content can decrease your overall calorie intake. “Fewer calories equals less barbecue belly. Eating grilled meats, like the ones your buddies serve at cookouts, is O.K. as long as you remove excess fat and watch how and what they’re grilled with,” says Andersen. Most cookouts offer a variety of meats, so choose the leanest cuts of beef, chicken and pork.
- Practice portion control: There are a variety of strategies for cutting back at the grill. For example, eat 1/4-lb. burgers (made with extra-lean ground sirloin) instead of 1/3- or 1/2-lb. patties, or split a steak with your friend.
- Load up on grilled veggies: “Fill half your plate with veggies so as to avoid overdoing it on the higher-calorie options. The fiber will help to fill you and if you want seconds, be sure to fill your plate the same way,” says Rivera.
- Don’t skip meals to try to “save” calories for later: According to Rivera, this will lead to overeating and lead you to make poor choices due to hunger and low blood sugar.
How to stay fit on the Fourth:
It’s a holiday, but that doesn’t mean you get a pass on working out. “Get physical activity so that you can balance calories consumed with calories used,” says Rivera. You can make it fun by organizing a relay race in a local park or in a backyard BBQ; going swimming if you are at the beach or a pool; or taking a walk or bike ride instead of driving to see local fireworks.
It’s important to be wary of the heat, though. Stay hydrated and avoid exercising outside at peak temperatures. “There are [also] several ways to burn calories without having to do strenuous activity in the heat,” says Andersen. He recommends engaging in what he calls, non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT, which consists of movements we make throughout our day. Here are some easy ways to burn calories without overheating:
- Dancing: Or, specifically, samba. Andersen says samba, dance-like movements that are extensions of your body’s natural movements, is a fun way to burn calories. You can burn as much as 100 calories a day. Why not get down to some patriotic tunes?
- Standing: The potential to burn 120 additional calories a day is possible by simply standing, says Andersen. Standing instead of sitting on the sofa with friends can easily increase caloric burn.
- Strolling: This refers to walking anytime you’re not expressly walking for exercise. For example, you can walk around the house while you’re on the phone instead of sitting and talking. Same goes at work: get up and go talk to a co-worker rather than using e-mail, walk around the office every so often, make a habit of using the farthest restroom. You could potentially burn as many as 10 to 300 extra calories a day.