Summertime means boardwalks, beaches, barbecues, and all those high-calorie foods we love that come with them. Before long, we find ourselves trapped between the temptation of a warm-weather treat and the necessity of still looking great come those weekend nights or lazy days spent in a bikini. Though most would agree that depriving a girl of her Frappuccino or funnel cake all the time is bad news, some simple knowledge could help you enjoy everything the season has to offer while still staying in shape. Read on and snack at your own risk.
At the Boardwalk or Beach
Let's face it: spending a day in the sun works up a serious appetite. Just as your tummy starts to rumble, the scent of fresh cut fries and funnel cake wafts through the air and calls out your name.
The worst choice: Funnel cake averages around 760 calories and some stands offer toppings like sugary fruit preserves or chocolate, making this fried dough even worse (see tastier). Even without the extras, this will be kinder to your taste buds than your bikini body.
Runner-up: French fries. Seven ounces is over 600 calories with 31 grams of fat and 63 grams of carbs. Grab some friends and share the greasy goodness to cut down on calories.
The “on occasion” choice: Caramel apples average around 350 calories, taking into account that the amount of caramel and size of the apple always varies. While there may be fruit inside, you're also getting 5 grams of saturated fat (a quarter of your suggested daily value) and about 80 grams of carbs.
The best choice: Grab a slice of pizza. At around 250 calories and 12 grams of protein, this cheesy snack is fairly close to a complete meal, especially if you add veggies like broccoli or mushrooms.
Working it off: Swimming for 30 minutes burns about 200 calories, while a brisk boardwalk stroll at 4 mph burns 175. Running at 5 mph for half an hour burns about 300 calories, but that's doubled when you run on the beach.
- Most of these foods are high in sodium, so load up on water to counteract this. It's also easy to confuse dehydration with hunger, so try reaching for a bottle of water first before hitting the snack bar.
- Pack a snack in case you can't find a semi-healthy option.
- For more decadent treats, split with a friend. Friends don't let friends eat empty calories, right?
At the Backyard Barbecue
There's nothing like a buffet to distort portion sizes. Her Campus writer Caitlin Hardgrove learned from personal experience how to navigate barbecues. “At cookouts, make yourself a plate of food and sit down while you eat instead of browsing,” she advises. If possible, stay away from the chip bowl too. Unconscious snacking between conversations can really pack on the calories. While hot dogs and hamburgers are 190 and 150 calories respectively, with buns that ring in at 80 calories, you have little to worry about with this part of the meal. Dessert isn't much of a concern, either, as long as you stick to fruit salad. One cup is about 70 calories. Those dangerous extras (a.k.a. side dishes) are the true calorie culprits.
The worst choice: One cup of macaroni salad brings in 600 calories.
The “on occasion” choice: One cup of potato salad packs half as much at 300 calories.
The best choice: One cup of coleslaw is about 200 calories.
Working it off: For every 30 minutes you play Frisbee with the folks, you'll burn about 100 calories.
- Take your burgers and dogs off the bun to cut calories.
- It's okay to try everything, just try a taste instead of a full serving.
- Eat slowly so you know when you're full and aren't tempted to take more.
At the Pool Party or Bar
Summer means free time, which also means a sudden increase in parties. For the over-21 crowd, your choice of drink ultimately determines how healthy (such a relative term here) your night out ends up. Generally, frozen concoctions are filled with sugar, so stick with plain juices or diet soda whenever possible.
The worst choice: If you like Pina Coladas, you'll be drinking up to 325 calories. Don't let the coconut flavor deceive you as these concoctions are loaded with sugar.
The “on occasion” choice: Still feeling like something frosty? Margaritas come in at 240 calories.
The best choice: Simple mixes like rum and Coke are about 180 calories—perfect for keeping you light on your feet for a night of dancing and flirting with cute guys. To keep it even lower cal, reach for the Diet Coke, which makes this drink 130 calories.
Working it off: When you do head to the dance floor to show off those moves, you could burn up to 300 calories an hour.
- Pick the “diet” option whenever possible.
- Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to cut down calories (and stay safe!).
- If you're making your own drink, use smaller cups so you're not tempted to sip up more sugar.
After a Draining Day in the Sun (but before going out at night)
When fatigue sets in and caffeine is calling your name, some choices will do wonders and others will leave you feeling worse. Let's break this down through the universal language of Starbucks.
The worst choice: A tall Starbucks Frappuccino packs 340 calories. We're talking before you add the caramel, mocha, brownie goodness to the mix.
The “on occasion” choice: A tall caramel macchiato rings in at 180 calories.
The best choice: A tall iced coffee is 60 calories and an iced latte with skim milk is 70 calories, while a tall skinny latte is 100 calories.
*Attention Red Bull drinkers: you're only taking in 110 calories, but next time you reach for one, take a gander at the amount of sugar in these powerful concoctions (or reach for a sugar-free Red Bull).
Working it off: You have permission to shop ‘til you drop. One hour of power shopping can burn up to 160 calories.
- When you look at nutrition labels, calories are important, but don't forget to check sugar and carb contents, too. These can be real shockers.
- Make sure you balance that caffeine with plenty of water to avoid getting dehydrated.
- Don't get carried away. Caffeine is great in moderation, but it's no replacement for a nice nap for heading out at night.
Caitlin Hardgrove, HC writer