Beach weather and beach bodies are usually spoken in the same breath, but behind all the fitness chatter are barbecues and pool parties stocked with everyone's favorite summer treats. Margarita? Yes, please.
Nothing cools your jets quite like a minty fresh mojito and no day at the beach is quite complete without a crisp bag of Cape Cod potato chips. Certain foods just make our summer days go 'round, but on the downside they can make our stomachs follow suit.
While you don't need to ditch your summer sweets alltogether, there are ways to incorporate them into your weekend activities without sabotaging all your months of hard work in the gym and in the kitchen. Take our expert's advice and go ahead—get that cookies n' cream cone. It's summer, you deserve it—just don't turn your treats into daily rituals and your abs will be alright. Read more about the right way to have a cheat day. Then, check out the mouthwatering foods on the following slides.
Whether you’re a chocolate sprinkles or banana split kind of guy, the fact of the matter is that ice cream is a mainstay of the season. While you shouldn’t be ordering a double-scoop on the daily, when you do decide to treat yourself it’s important to get what you actually want and truly enjoy it. “When you’re going to cheat on your diet, it’s all about accepting it. Actively decide that you’re going to do it, accept it, and don’t feel guilty about it because that ruins the fun of it,” says Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition.
Don’t let the yogurt tag fool you, fro-yo can be just as bad as it’s full fat, dairy-rich cousin. The diet hang-up here is the do-it-yourself element. Piling your peanut butter and Nutella swirl cup with crushed cookies, cookie dough bites, m&ms and the like takes your summer treat from bad, to downright destructive. Next time you hit up 16 Handles choose the small cup and go easy on the toppings. Getting your fro-yo fix once in awhile won’t do too much harm.
Summertime completely shakes up the cocktail game and true summer happy hours don’t get going until a margarita hits the table. Just prepare yourself for it ahead of time. “Monday through Friday I try to keep a regimen of lean meat, fruits, and veggies. On the weekends I allow myself to cheat because I know I'm hitting the town with friends. If I know I'm going out at night then my meals will be very light and clean during the day. Having a cheat day doesn't mean eating bad for the whole day,” says Latoya Julce, NYC-based Trainer and 305 Fitness Instructor.
Mojitos are the drink you turn to when you need something to cool you off but also keep the party going. The minty fresh sip is perfect for a hot summer night, but on average you’re looking at about 250 calories and 25 grams of sugar per 8 ounce glass. With that in mind, aim to stick to just one.
Vacations are not complete without that pina colada or strawberry daiquiri on the beach. Extra strength or virgin, these tropical drinks pack a serious calorie count with a sugar spike to match (there’s a reason they taste so damn good). Savor one blended drink and switch over to something less sugary like a vodka soda if you want to keep the party going without overdoing it.
The warm weather hits and suddenly seafood season is in full swing. Between the butter toasted bun, mayo spread, and side of melted butter, this treat is clearly not be the healthiest option. Stick to one and skip the dessert. “I never recommend having a full cheat day but rather allow yourself to have whatever you want to within reason [at one meal] because I think it actually helps you stay on track,” says Smith.
Before they get slathered in sauce, ribs aren’t too bad for you. They do contain some saturated fat, but they also offer over 20 grams of protein per 3 ounces. Though once they get drowned in delicious sauce (and who really eats ribs bare?), the calorie and sugar count takes and steep climb. Stick to a few ribs and pair it with a side of grilled veggies for a more balanced cheat meal.
Whether you’re at a clambake or hitting up your favorite seaside joint, fried seafood just feels so right in the summer. Sure, anything deep fried is a diet-don’t, but allowing yourself to have a little every once in awhile isn’t going derail your efforts completely. “[You don’t want to punish yourself after cheating on your diet]. It has a negative effect on your psyche which then in turn can have a negative effect on your body. Also, if you cut back too much he next day you end up being really hungry and more out of control. Just go back to your regular eating patterns and move forward like that,” says Smith. Eat that plate of fried calamari, enjoy it and get right back on track the next day.
Milkshakes bring everyone to the yard in the summertime. Creamy coffee or black and white shakes hit the spot on a scorching day. However, a few sips fastrack large amounts of sugar and calories into your system. Do yourself a favor and order the small shake—there’s no need to go big or go home here.
Pasta salad may not be your warm-weather “got to have it” cheat, but 10 times out of 10 it makes it’s way into your barbeque spread. Depending on the sauce, pasta salads can either be calorie, sodium, and fat bombs, or be a not-so-bad side to your main meal. Ask what kind of sauce the pasta is tossed with and judge your portion sizes according to the answer.
Onion rings and french fries go hand-in-hand with amusement park visits and beach-side concession stands. In general, onion rings contain fewer calories than french fries, so if you’re going to indulge you’re better off sticking with the rings. However, do bear in mind that regardless of the calories you’re not going to find any nutrition here so keep all portion sizes small.
The smell of an evening outdoor fire and the messy crunch of a gooey s’more tends to mean that Summer is in full swing. Take your time roasting your marshmallow to perfection because you should try to keep your portions limited to around one (maybe two) so these processed, sugar-rich treats won’t derail your diet. Don’t fool yourself with sugar-free chocolate slabs either. “Don’t try and cheat with something that is trying to be something that it is. If you’re going to cheat, you might as well have the full sugar version [because you won’t be as satisfied otherwise]. Stay away from artificial sweeteners because they’re not as satisfying [and can mess with hunger cues and your metabolism],” says Smith.
From Chipwiches and Choco Tacos to Good Humor bars and those classic WWE pops, the ice cream truck is full of nostalgia and bursting with sugar. Allow yourself to have one treat, but try to take a walk on the beach while you eat it or join in on a beach volleyball game once you’ve had your fill to balance it out.
Fresh-squeezed is always your healthiest bet, but lemonade in general tends to contain high amounts of sugar (they’ve got to balance out the sourness somehow!). Keep your cup small and savor your sips if you’re trading in your water for this tart option.
Following the burgers and dogs, barbeques are full of homemade cookie and brownie plates. Take a good look at your options and mindfully choose the one—and only one—which you want to eat the most. By being selective you can eat that brownie sans all the summer bod guilt.
Though the days are hot, grabbing a slice with the guys after an afternoon spent laying out on the beach is an easy dinner grab when you want to keep on relaxing. However, you’re better off treating yourself to that pizza if you’ve been more active during the day, so save that cheat for a day when you’ve really earned it—perhaps post-tennis or kayaking?
A concession stand staple, you really can’t go wrong with a plate of chicken fingers. While they certainly can’t stack up to grilled chicken health-wise, they do hit the spot on a sunny afternoon at the amusement park. Try to avoid the side of fries if you can to minimize the sheer amount of fried food you’re tunneling into your body and opt out of the soda, too. If you overdo it, just get back into your healthy routine for the week ahead. “Food preps are my bounce back. On Sunday, I prepare large meals and section them off for the work week. If I have snacks and food on hand, it's less likely that I will fall off the wagon again,” says Julce.
Though your best bet is to bring fresh fruit and copious amounts of water to the beach, a bag of crunchy potato chips just belongs there. Rather than grabbing the whole bag try to portion out a controlled amount. Alternatively, it also works nicely if you’ve got a big group so you’re forced to share the treat, which will help keep portions under wraps naturally.Healthy Snack Alternatives for Every Type of Craving >>>