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7 tips for healthy eating at summer BBQs

Thursday - 5/22/2014, 11:55am  ET

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Don't let summer fun ruin the physique you've worked hard to maintain. (Thinkstock)

By Josef Brandenburg WTOP Fitness Contributor

WASHINGTON -- A lot of people think summer time means choosing between a fun social life and being in great shape.

Fortunately, this is not a choice you need to make. You can go to as many summer BBQ's as you want and still keep the body you've worked so hard for -- just follow these tips.

1. Wear tight clothes: This serves two purposes. First it let's you know how keep check of how you've been maintaining for lifestyle (are these jeans getting tight?). Secondly, tighter clothes make stuffing yourself uncomfortable.

2. Focus on the protein: A great thing about BBQ's is that protein is usually the star, and it's usually grilled, not fried. Protein helps keep your body toned, keeps you feeling full and doesn't lead to intense cravings for "more, more, more" the way chips and sweets do. Put the protein on your plate first.

3. Be careful with the sides: At most BBQ's, it's the side dishes that will get you into nutritional trouble. Most of this is common sense -- avoid the chips, the sweet "salad", etc. Beyond this, try to focus only on the veggies and fresh fruit (more emphasis on the veggies), and not the starches.

4. Work Out: Getting a hard workout before you hit the BBQ will prime your metabolism to make the best use of whatever you end up eating. Resistance training and high-intensity interval training will do much more than long, slow cardio will for your figure. And they don't make you super-hungry, like long- duration cardio does.

5. Bring something: One of the easiest ways to exert some control over what you can eat, and to contribute to the event, is simply to bring something healthy and tasty. Ask the host what they're having and bring something that complements the menu.

6. Skip the sweet tea and lemonade: The sugar and calories in sweet drinks (soda, tea, lemonade, etc.) add up fast. Besides that, they don't make you feel full in the slightest. And because they're so processed, they can even make you hungrier. Stick to unsweetened tea, water, soda water, etc.

7. One or none: This is a very simple rule that can help you maintain your self-control, figure and dignity. Keep to "one drink or none" when it comes to alcohol. This rule keeps you from getting too tipsy and eating a lot of food that you wouldn't if you were sober, and it also keeps you from the metabolic damage that heavy drinking does to your body.

Editor's Note: Josef Brandenburg is a D.C.area fitness expert with 14 years of experience and co-author of the international best-selling book "Results Fitness." In 2004, he started The Body You Want personal training program, which specializes in helping you get the body you want in the available time you have. You can also check out his blog, follow him on Twitter, or check out his fitness videos on YouTube.

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