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The 9 Most Dangerous Summer Foods

How to enjoy ice cream and BBQ without wrecking your six pack.
The 9 Most Dangerous Summer Foods

Comfort food is more of a winter month thing. You crave that mac and cheese or deep dish pizza when you’re freezing and it’s snowing outside—and you know you can hide your gut under layers (and more layers) of clothing. As we transition into spring and—finally!—summer, we cut most of the crap in favor of lighter fare: white wine, light beer, fresh spring veggies… But, not all foods popular in the warmer months are safe. In fact, some of the most popular summer foods are seriously dangerous—for your diet at least (and for your health in the case of number 8.) There are the obvious ones—ice cream, frozen cocktails—but there are also some surprisingly sinful summer munchies on this list. Read on to learn which foods to avoid—and, for some, how to enjoy them without wrecking your six pack.

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Nope, this BBQ staple doesn’t count as a veggie any more so than French fries do. “Salads that are mixed with mayo or sour cream have lots of added fat calories,” says Connie Diekman, R.D., President of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Make It Six-Pack Friendly:  A better plan: Combine the mayo with either light mayo, fat-free yogurt, or add some yellow mustard to give the dressing some zip. “Potato salads can also be made less calorie dense by adding veggies, so try carrots, celery, or some peppers,” says Diekman.

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Excess sugar (especially fructose or fruit sugar)—even from healthy foods—is easily stored as fat, says Lauren Slayton, founder of Food Trainers in New York City. “Excess fructose (the sugar in fruit) is warmly welcomed by your fat cells. The whole concept of unlimited “fruits and veggies” should really be just veggies,” says Slayton, citing watermelon and cherries, as two of the worst offenders.

Make It Six-Pack Friendly: Better options would be strawberries and peaches, per Slayton. But: “Even with ‘better’ choices men should stick to a max of 2 fruits a day,” she says.

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Yup, these foods are healthy, but they’re also foods that we eat mindlessly—especially at summertime parties and events with friends, says Molly Kimball, RD, a nutritionist based in New Orleans. “The guac + hummus are obviously nutritious options but calories can add up quickly,” says Kimball. And while corn chips are technically a whole grain, they’re still fried. “Most pita chips—even the “naked” pita chips—are the nutritional equivalent of sliced white bread,” Kimball says.

Make It Six-Pack Friendly Swap the chips—both kinds—for veggies. And that doesn’t have to mean celery and carrot sticks. Try cauliflower, cherry tomatoes and other less-expected crudite.

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“Barbecue can often mean grilling higher fat meats like ribs, pork, steaks, and brats,” says Diekman. What's more: “Fatty cuts of meat are often FAR in excess of a reasonable serving size (steaks are often 10, 12 or 14 ounces, same with ribs and fried or banquet skin in chicken) and they pack the saturated fat content of what is reasonable for a few days!,” says Christine Gerbstadt, M.D., R.D. What’s more, “drowning” food in sauce boosts your calories from sugar so use sauce to flavor food only, says Diekman.

Make It Six-Pack Friendly: “A simple switch to leaner meats like chicken or fish can make barbecue fit for a fit guy,” says Diekman. If you can’t live without the ribs, pair them with better choices like a green salad, grilled veggies and fruit, or even a whole grain salad, suggests Diekman. That's in place of that potato salad (see slide #1!)

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"The “sport” of barbecuing often means drinking one—or more—while cooking and then enjoying more with the meal," says Diekman. All of these beers can add up in calories and the alcohol can also lower your resolve and lead you to eat more food.

Make It Six-Pack Friendly: The best goal when it comes to beer is to have a plan: How many are okay for that meal? If you only do this type of drinking occasionally then the intake probably isn’t as bad, but if every barbecue means alcohol, a plan is necessary, says Diekman. OR, Try these 6 Surprisingly Healthy Beers.

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These guys are even worse than beer with calorie counts climbing up to 900 per cocktail from sugar and alcohol. But similar to beer, alcohol's effect (lowering your inhibition) can also sabotage good intentions for healthy eating, says Gerbstadt. “Post-drinking binges or trips to the diner or refrigerator may easily add another 2000 calories,” she says.

Make It Six-Pack Friendly: Try these 5 Summer Cocktails for 150 Calories or Less.

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“Many people are seeking quick ways to lose weight in the summer, but avoid any “miracle” pills or foods that promote rapid weight loss,” says Marni Sumbal, RD, an exercise physiologist and founder of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition. “These products are often just diuretics or contain a high amount of caffeine or herbs that can be dangerous for the heart/organs in high amounts,” says Sumbal.

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Sure, beach snacks are great, but: “Be mindful of food safety—especially foods left out without refrigeration (like mayo, meat, fish, dairy),” says Sumbal. You can find out more about the do’s and don’ts of food safety here.

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Well, this is a big duh, but it’s not just about the calories and fat. The sugar in ice cream may also make you crave more ice cream. One serving is usually a mere ½ cup—and you know you’re putting a heck of a lot more than that in your bowl or in that giant waffle cone. Plus: “Let's not even consider the toppings that are added: nuts, whipped cream, chocolate syrup....,” says Gerbstadt.

Make It Six-Pack Friendly: Try Artic Zero Ice Cream that has just 35 calories per serving. 

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