As the tantalizing scent of grilled burgers fills the air and colorful platters of finger-licking delicacies tempt our taste buds, summer parties often pose a challenge for those striving to maintain a healthy lifestyle and who are trying to maintain their physique (or even drop some body fat). But is it really that difficult to hit your macros this summer?
Fear not, for a truly enjoyable summer doesn’t have to derail your progress or sabotage your fitness goals. With a little know-how and some clever food swaps, you can effortlessly navigate the spread, staying on track to hit your macros and savoring the flavors of the season guilt-free.
In this article, we will dive deeper into how you can make smarter choices during summer parties, enabling you to manage your food wisely and achieve the balance between indulgence and nutrition. Get ready to master the art of healthy food swaps and make this summer memorable and macro-friendly.
Note: I’m not the fun police; only you can know how committed you are to your health and fitness goals. If you’re trying to lose weight, can you add things to your plate that you typically wouldn’t eat and then be able to say no to seconds? Or will you be able to eat a small portion of something you’d deem “unhealthy” and then cut back on other items or eliminate them in order to hit your macros? Only you can answer that, and I’m not here to judge.
1. The Source of Your Macros Matter
Are we all in agreement that (most) hotdogs are horrible for you, and that’s probably something you want to move away from at Memorial Day parties? Ok, good. During your summer parties, survey your protein first and foremost. What’s available for you? We understand hotdogs should probably be our last resort, so where do we go from there to boost our protein intake to help hit your macros?
Does the summer day party have grilled chicken? That would be a fantastic option, and I’d make that our first healthy option. Just be sure it’s not slathered in BBQ sauce or some other sugary or tangy sauce.
Next would be to look for burgers. Toss a couple of burgers on your plate, and if you can, skip the buns. Most summer barbecues have buns of all assortments on the table, but if you want to hit your macros this summer, you need to pick and choose your battles, and, in most instances, the war is never won when you’ve got a bun of some sort in your hands filling you up with refined carbs.
The next thing you should look at is your carbs. An easy choice would be fruits and vegetables. However, you’re going to want to skip the high glycemic fruits, such as pineapple and watermelon, and look for something a little lower glycemic, like sliced apples (which are also loaded with fiber and can help you feel satiated), strawberries, oranges, or cut up peaches that are naturally lower in sugar.
Also, it should go without saying, but try to skip all the fattening pasta and potato salads that are loaded with mayonnaise.
2. Lettuce Help You Say Goodbye to Burger Buns
If you’re not down for eating your burgers without some sort of bun, there’s another much healthier option. Rather than putting your burger(s) between a high-calorie and carb-heavy bun that can throw off your macros, you can help hit your macros by putting your burger(s) between lettuce.
Sure, it may look weird, but you’re missing out if you’ve never had a burger between two large lettuce leaves. The lettuce doesn’t provide much flavor to your burger (which is quite possibly a good thing), but it provides you with nearly a zero-calorie option when compared to hamburger buns while also giving your burger a nice crisp crunch generally associated with eating freshly washed lettuce.
Condiments on top of your hamburger are something else to consider. Mustard is always a good option since it provides practically no calories, carbs, or fat. Ketchup is going to be the main and most popular burger condiment, and unless you’re hosting at your house and purchasing it, no-sugar-added ketchup will probably not be available. So, make do with what you have and use condiments sparingly if you want to hit your macros.
3. Skip the Chips (and Dip)
They may be crunchy, salty, and delicious, but loading your plate up with chips will typically not allow you to hit your macros unless you drastically reduce the amount most people would put on their plates. Not to mention the fattening dips like ranch, French onion, or taco dip that accompany many chips. If you want to destroy your macros for the day, you can easily do so by plopping some dip on your plate and lathering your chips in them. A much better option would be to find some vegetables or fruit like what was mentioned above.
Being that avocado and avocado dips are popular items at parties, you may luck out and find some whole wheat crackers along with some avocado dip (or possibly even some hummus). Or you can dip your vegetables into the avocado dip or hummus if healthy crackers aren’t available. Additionally, if there is avocado dip available, you could circle back to the hamburger conversation above, and instead of using things like ketchup and mustard, you would opt for a thin layer of delicious avocado dip spread across your burger.
Better yet, if you volunteer to make a dip, rather than loading it up with sour cream, you can swap out the sour cream for plain Greek yogurt instead, which will allow you to offer a much healthier option with a nice boost in protein as well.
Speaking of a better option… if you want a little extra boost to help you burn off some of the calories you consume on this summer, consider adding NutraBio Thermo Fuel V9 into the mix. This fat burner utilizes fat-metabolizing ingredients to help ignite thermogenesis, reduce stubborn body fat, and help better control your appetite to allow you to more easily hit your macros for the day.
4. Low-Calorie Beverages & Alcohol Swap
I don’t need to tell you this, but there is no nutritional value to drinking regular soda, beer, or liquor. All you’re doing is loading up on carbs and sugar you don’t need, making it harder for you to hit your macros. I’m not naïve to think there will be adults around you consuming such beverages (some in excess as we all have that ONE uncle or friend). That shouldn’t be you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun or enjoy something tasty and refreshing.
Choose your drink wisely rather than “grabbing a cold one” and slamming it down with the boys or girls. Since most parties are outdoors, consider water a priority to stay hydrated if out in the heat. But those sugary and carb-loaded beverages you’ll find everyone else drinking will only cause you to feel bloated and uncomfortable (which isn’t ideal if your summer party is poolside). If you are craving a soda, choose one that is diet or zero-calorie.
You could always infuse your water to stay hydrated and prevent yourself from drinking beer and watching your calorie count shoot into orbit. Grab some water at the party and find some strawberries, lemons, limes, oranges, or even cucumber to toss into your water or seltzer for a refreshing beverage. You could even throw some mint in your seltzer if people are using it to make mojitos.
If you choose to enjoy an adult beverage, you have some “better for you” options out there — you just need to be more aware and selective with your choice. You could drink a low-calorie, low-sugar hard seltzer, but keep it to one or two at most. Some other lower-calorie options could be a light beer, vodka soda, tequila with lime, gin and diet tonic, a Paloma, or rum and diet soda.
But again, if you want to hit your macros, your alcohol consumption needs to be benched or consumed extremely moderately so that you don’t take in too many calories and carbs for the day.
5. Don’t Desert Dessert
As mentioned earlier, I’m not the fun police, and I’m not here to handcuff you and tell you not to have dessert. Summer parties are not everyday, and assuming you’ve stayed on track to hit your macros with everything else you consume that day, you can give yourself some leeway to have a little something for dessert. Now, that doesn’t mean go crazy, or there’s no way you’re going to hit your macros for the day without blowing your calories, carbs, and fat out of the water.
What you can do is treat yourself to a little something. Whether that’s a piece of pie, a scoop of ice cream, or some other delicious dessert, go ahead and have a small portion. Or if you’re someone who has insane willpower and doesn’t allow themselves to have treats or desserts while on a diet, simply skip over dessert or fit in some fresh fruit as your dessert if you’re still able to hit your macros by adding it in.
If you signed up for dessert duty and wanted to bring some healthy options, consider trying some of the amazing treats below. Their recipes are simple and easy to follow.
- Protein Sweet Potato Brownies
- Protein Rice Krispy Treats
- Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade Pudding Pops
- Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Protein Treats
By: Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN