10 Summer Weight Loss Secrets From the Grill
Try these sizzling recipes on the grill and still lose weight this summerBy: the Editors of Men’s Health
Photo Credit: Thinkstock
Imagine a world in which you could eat all your favorite foods without gaining a pound. The succulent meats, steaming-hot sides, and buttery desserts are all right there for the taking, and you don't have to feel an ounce of guilt for indulging. (Search: Healthy meats for summer grilling) Sounds like a place you might want to be, right? Well, open your back door my friend, because this promised land exists, and I'm here to help you discover it.
The secret to turning your own backyard into a nutritional Narnia is your grill. That's right, the thing you use to char burgers every Memorial Day. If you can produce a flame, you learn to grill like a superstar and eat like royalty—and still lose 10, 20, 30 pounds, or more this summer.
That’s why we developed the all-new Grill This, Not That! Backyard Survival Guide. It's a revolutionary grilling manual jam-packed with secrets for slimming down and staying well-fed all summer. In it you'll find 150 recipes, from grilled pastas and desserts to mouthwatering burgers and pork chops. They're easy enough for a novice griller but flavorful enough to impress a seasoned vet.
To get your summer started right, I've provided 10 rules that you should keep in mind as you're firing up your grill. Follow these and you're guaranteed to have your slimmest summer yet. And make sure you check out our full list of 20 Summer Weight Loss Secrets from the Grill!
Don't Fear Red Meat A 2010 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that a diet high in protein and low in processed carbs was the most effective for weight loss, and the B vitamins in meat help your body convert nutrients into energy. Another perk of protein? Your body also has to work harder to digest it, so when you eat, say, a steak, you stay fuller longer than you would if you ate a bagel. The key is to cut down on the greasy ribs and switch to lean cuts, which have a higher protein-to-fat ratio. Try flank steak. With only 176 calories per 4-ounce serving, flank is one of the leanest cuts at the meat counter, and it offers an impressive 24 grams of protein.
Video: Prepare Healthy Meals
Switch to Whole Grain Buns A 2008 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a diet high in whole grains resulted in a greater decrease in body fat (particularly around the belly) than a diet high in refined grains. The whole-grain dieters also saw a 38 percent decrease in C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation. The best low-calorie option? Arnold Select 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins. Each bun provides an impressive 5 grams of fiber in only 100 calories. Your tastebuds won't know the difference, but your waistband will!
Related: Sneaky Ways to Eat More Whole Grains
Add SpiceThe best fat-fighting spices are chili and cayenne pepper. A 2011 study in the Journal of Food Science and Nutrition found that capsaicin—the spicy compound found in the peppers—promoted weight loss in a group of overweight rats. Capsaicin has also been shown to suppress appetite, boost metabolism, and fight inflammation. Try mixing the cayenne with cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and rubbing it on a steak before grilling.
Download our free Eat to Beat Belly Fat guide!
Upgrade Your Barbecue Sauce According the American Heart Association, the average American downs a whopping 22 teaspoons of sugar every day. That's 335 calories, enough to add 37 pounds in a year! Much of this sugar comes from sources like sodas—which is why you should avoid washing your burger down with any of the 20 Worst Drinks in America—but there's a high proportion hiding in less obvious places like dressings and sauces. Case in point: Kraft Original derives a full 80 percent of its calories from sugar. Look for a sauce with no added sugar, or at the very least, one that doesn't list sugar first on the ingredient statement. (I like Stubb's Original, which has half as much sugar as Kraft Original.)
Video: Healthy Desserts at the BBQ
Toss Fish on the Grill Seafood consumption is linked to better overall health, and a 2011 Turkish study found that compared to baked, fried, or microwaved fish, grilled fish contained the highest levels of belly-filling protein. (Check out these 6 Supersmart Seafood Choices!) Your best seafood-shopping strategy? Avoid the section of shrink-wrapped plastic trays at your local supermarket and shop at a market with a real fish counter. You'll get fresher, cleaner-tasting fish, and you'll be inclined to eat it more frequently.
Related: The Healthiest Canned Tunas
Read Meat Nutrition LabelsThe USDA recently imposed a law requiring grocers to display nutrition information on 40 of the most common meat cuts, including all ground meat and poultry products. (Learn more with this guide on USDA Nutrition Labels for Beef.) This is good news. An 8-ounce rib eye, raw, could easily have more than 550 calories and 18 grams of saturated fat, but you'd never know before the USDA's ruling. Now you can see with a glance that by switching to round steak, the calorie damage dips to about 375 calories with only 7 grams of saturated fat. Those numbers vary from steak to steak though, so take advantage by scrutinizing meat labels before any purchase. (To reap the full nutritional benefits of your DIY burger, follow the suggestions in our Burger Topping Selector.)
Related: Nutrition Facts Now on Meat, Poultry Products
MarinateIf you're not using a spicy rub, then you should be using a marinade. The acids tenderize tough meats and allow the herbs and seasonings to work their way into the muscle, making lean cuts every bit as flavorful as their fattier—and more expensive—counterparts. (Use these 13 Spices That Help You Lose Weight!) If that's not reason enough, consider this: Research from the Food Science Institute of Kansas State University found that the polyphenols in marinades cut carcinogen levels in grilled foods by up to 88 percent, allowing you to fight fat and cancer at the same time
SINISTER SIDES: The quickest way to turn your lean slab of meat into a diet disaster? Pair it with a fat-filled, calorie-loaded side dish. Sides should support your healthy meal, not tear it down, but apparently some chain restaurants missed the memo. Check out the 10 Worst Side Dishes In America.
Trim Fat Seems obvious, right? But consider the impact: By trimming a quarter-inch fat cap off a 6-ounce steak, you can eliminate more than 100 calories and 16 grams of fat. As an added bonus, you'll decrease your cancer risk. When fat drips and sizzles at the bottom of your grill, it produces smoke that contains carcinogenic polycyclicaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Less fat, less cancer-causing PAHs.
Related: Food Swaps that Fight Belly Fat
Fire Up Your ProduceA 2008 Nutrition Research study found that increased fruit and vegetable intake resulted in significant weight loss over a 6-month period, but unfortunately, most people take a narrow, meat-only approach to grilling. That's a bad move for your waistline, and it takes the joy out of grilling. Try grilling asparagus, Brussels sprouts, or eggplant, and you'll be a believer for life. You can even grill leafy greens. Try this with spinach: Clean the leaves and keep the stems intact. Place over a medium fire and grill for 3 to 5 minutes. Dress the greens with a drizzle of olive oil, the juice of a lemon, and some shaved Parmesan cheese. Enjoy.
Related: Eat More Vegetables
Give Your Fast-Food Favorites a Healthy MakeoverHave a fast-food burger that you can't resist? One that keeps you coming back for more, even though you know you shouldn't? I feel your pain. (See if your favorite needs a nutritional makeover—check out list of 11 Worst Burgers in America.) So find what it is about that burger that drives you wild, and then recreate it at home. For example, look at what happened when we re-imagined the Carl's Jr. Western Bacon Cheeseburger for Grill This, Not That! First, Carl's version:
Carl’s Jr. Western Bacon Cheeseburger
34 g fat (14 g saturated)
1,500 mg sodium
And now, our version:
Grill This, Not That! Cowboy Burger
22 g fat (11 g saturated)
850 mg sodium
This burger saves calories right off the bat by switching from traditional fast-food beef to lean ground sirloin or bison, and to kick up the flavor, we rub it down with coffee and chili powder. Instead of onion rings we used fried onions, and that allows us to keep the cheese and bacon while still cutting nearly 300 calories. Trust me, it's way better than anything that comes from a drive-thru window.
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