Football season and the start of fall are synonymous with guy-but-not-gut-friendly foods that are comforting but bad for you in every way. Fatty wings drenched in even fattier dips and dressings, sugar-loaded desserts, and carb-heavy drinks. It's a diet minefield.
To make you a little more cognizant of the calorie bombs you're throwing back at your buddy's apartment or parking lot tailgate, we spoke to nutritionist Christine Palumbo, RDN. She's detailed the worst offenders and how to make them a bit healthier, so you don't have to miserably munch on salad you brought from home in Tupperware. With these healthier takes on game-day recipes, snacking swaps, and mindful portion tips you can be one of the guys—without getting a gut.
*Macros derived from food processor nutrition analysis software, cookbook values, and food labels.
Made with regular ground beef and topped with shredded cheddar, your typical vat of chili is a calorie and fat bomb. A 2-cup serving of chili sprinkled with ½ cup cheese has about 740 calories, 65g carbs, 35g fat, and 9g sugar.
To make it better for you, use ground round steak and top with less shredded cheddar cheese. This way, a 2-cup serving of chili topped with 1 tablespoon cheese has 500 calories, 64g carbs, 12g fat and 9g sugar.
The go-to spread for holiday parties and sporting events alike, the calories and fat in cheesy spinach and artichoke dip can add up quickly. Just a ¼ cup serving yields 160 calories, 6g carbs, 16g fat, and 2g sugar. And that's before chips...
To lighten things up, use plain Greek yogurt and light sour cream rather than mayonnaise and full-fat sour cream. This way, a ¼ cup serving has 120 calories, 5g carbs, 2g fat, and 0g sugar. Knock off more calories by snacking and serving with veggies, not crackers or chips.
The ultimate man meal is doing your body a disservice. A 3-oz pork sammie made with pork shoulder and topped on a white roll can have about 450 calories, 25g carbs, 13g fat, and 13g sugar. And that's if you stop at one.
Use pork tenderloin and whole-wheat rolls instead to cut calories down to 330, carbs down to 24g, fat to 5g, and sugar to 12g.
Fudgy and irresistible as they might be, a 4-inch square of brownie can make a dent on your physique at 450 calories, 48g carbs, 28g fat, and 36g sugar. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy them. Adjust the portion size to satisfy your sweet tooth.
If you eat 10 Tostito Scoops and ½ cup of guacamole, you'll set yourself back 370 calories, 28g carbs, and 24g fat. "I'm not a fan of baked corn chips," Palumbo says. "They have more added sugars, and the taste and texture are lacking compared to the conventional," she adds. Instead, swap the guac for salsa. This way you'll consume 205 calories, 28g carbs, 8g fat, and 5g sugar.
When made from scratch, margaritas aren't too bad. But the pre-made mixes will be your undoing; a 6-oz concoction can have up to 220 calories. Grab a light beer instead. There are tons of varieties that have about 100 calories or less.