5 Quick Ways To Lean Up Your Tailgate This Football Season
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If you’re like me, you’re excited about football season. Actually, even if you’re not totally like me, chances are you’re still excited for football season. Besides finally having a reason to bring out leggings, thigh high boots, and beautiful scarves, Sundays have now become a day devoted to tailgating, watching football games, and enjoying time with friends and family.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good tailgate. But what I don’t love is a day of feasting and cheating that completely undoes a week’s worth of hard work. Tailgating is notorious for being a binge-fest of fattening and gluttonous food—but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Try these quick tips and tricks to lean up your next tailgate and enjoy the party, without completely derailing any of your goals.
1. Choose Unprocessed Meats Over Processed Meats
This is perhaps one of the biggest changes you can make to your tailgate. I know hot dogs, prepackaged hamburgers, sausages, and other processed meats are tempting, but they’ll all set you back if getting lean is your idea of a touchdown this season. First off, these meats are loaded with fat. A single all-beef frank can have as much as 13 grams of fat — 5 of which come from saturated fat.
But saturated fat is only half the battle. Often these processed meats are loaded with nitrites — a class of manmade food chemicals used primarily as preservatives in meat products. From hot dogs to conventional deli meat, nitrites are pretty much in all packaged and cured meat products. Even worse, they’ve been linked to colon cancer in multiple studies, and many clean eating advocates argue that nitrite consumption plays a prominent role in today’s remarkably high cancer rates.
So what’s a clean-eating, fat-burning machine to do? There are plenty of healthy alternatives. Marinate your own meat the night before, and then grill it at the tailgate. You can easily throw boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a giant plastic bag with a simple, homemade marinade — it’s a tasty meal that will help you make gains without putting on any fat. And if you really love burgers and dogs, try making your own burgers with lean ground beef/turkey or buying organic, nitrite-free sausages.
2. Pack Healthy Veggies That Can Be Grilled
Another tricky problem at tailgates is finding a way to work veggies into your meals. Tailgates aren’t known for serving salads, but you can easily change all of that.
Take advantage of the grill and find a few simple recipes for grilled veggies that taste great but are relatively low in fat. Grilling asparagus or zucchini/squash with a little olive oil and salt is perhaps the easiest trick in the book. Bell peppers and even whole tomatoes work especially well. So do portobellos.
And if you’re feeling adventurous, try making a salad (yes, salad) on the grill like this grilled romaine lettuce salad. As long as you don’t add a ton of unhealthy add-ons like croutons or a fatty salad dressing, you should be in the clear.
3. Pack Sweet Potatoes and Yams in Foil
Another important factor for navigating a tailgate is the kinds of carbs you choose to eat. So often we get caught up in all of the chips, dips, and other junk foods that taste oh-so-good but are oh-so-bad for us. Skip the corn chips and bean dip in favor of complex carbohydrates that are full of fiber and vitamins.
My personal favorites are sweet potatoes and yams. Simply wrap them in foil and bake the night before (or the morning of if you have time). Pack them in a cooler and simply reheat them on the grill. Sweet potatoes and yams also scream autumn, making them perfect for football season.
4. Pace Yourself Regarding Alcohol
This tip is probably one of the hardest to follow, but will definitely help you save calories and stay lean even at a tailgate. It’s easy to get caught up in the fun of drinking all day. But would you rather have a six pack or a beer belly? It’s important that even at events like tailgates you don’t lose your motivation.
Am I telling you not to drink? Absolutely not! But if the old, pre-lean you would go crazy and typically sling back a six pack (or two) at a tailgate, try limiting yourself to 1-2 drinks instead. And if you’re mixing up a cocktail, avoid calorie bombs like margaritas, daiquiris, and pina coladas in favor of a leaner cocktail.
Check out the official Lean It Up Guide to Drinking for more ways to drink lean.
5. Pre-Washed, Pre-Cut Fruit is Your New Best Friend
If you’re craving something sweet at a tailgate, your best plan of action is to come prepared. Washing and cutting up a small container of fruit before a tailgate can often satisfy sugar cravings and prevent any binging on death-by-chocolate brownies or the batch of cookies your best friend’s mom made.
Make your fruit feel ‘special’ by adding some dark chocolate chips, unsweetened coconut flakes, or even a drizzle of raw honey.
Does a lavish spread at a tailgate mean you should just stay home and watch the game in total solitude? Unless that’s your thing, of course not.
To some people, tailgating marks the primordial start of the holiday season. Learning how to navigate these situations now instead of later is the key to enjoying yourself and staying fit no matter what the circumstance.
is the founder of We're Talking About Food
. Devoted to democratizing health, Taji believes that anyone CAN live a healthy lifestyle regardless of medical condition, career, budget or other secondary factors.
Besides contributing to Lean it UP, Taji has been published for her health and fitness advice in journals like Thought Catalog. Taji has been supported by numerous health and fitness companies such as Navitas Naturals
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