You'd think that "swim suit season" would be reason enough to keep the pounds off in summertime. But new studies suggest that staying slim is even harder in summer than during the rest of the year.
When researchers from Indiana University and Ohio State looked at weight gain in children, they discovered that kids put on pounds three times faster during the summer than they do during the school year. And there's a good chance you're doing the same as an adult. In July, a report from Trust for America's Health revealed that obesity rates are steady or increasing in every single U.S. state, and in 38 states, more than 1 in 4 people are now obese—not overweight, obese.
Now consider this: Much of the reason we put on pounds is that we tend to ignore our normal nutritional prudence during the big-calorie summer holidays. At the beginning of the summer we do everything we can to slim down so we look good by the pool, yet once summer reaches full swing, we approach every weekend as a "special occasion” and treat every piece of summertime food as a natural rite of passage.That's why we've set up a series of swaps that represent the decisions you’re likely to face on Labor Day. Choose wisely and you can save upwards of a thousand calories. Let’s put that into perspective: If you were able to cut a thousand calories from every weekend dinner, you’d drop more than half a pound every single week.
PLATE #1: STARTERS
Don’t Eat That:Deviled Eggs (4 pieces/2 eggs)260 calories21.5 g fat (5 g saturated)300 mg sodiumCALORIE EQUIVALENT: 65 medium shrimp
Here’s your clue that there’s something wrong with these eggs: They have the word “devil” right in the name! Could there be a more obviously evil food? That yellowish, custard-like filling is a heathenish duo of high-fat foods: yolk and mayonnaise. Two eggs for breakfast is a great meal, but two eggs stuffed with mayonnaise as a precursor for a holiday buffet is not so great. Eat This!Alexia Mushroom Bites (5 pieces)110 calories4.5 g fat (.5 g saturated)290 mg sodiumSo if the deviled eggs are nutritional demons, consider the mushroom bites angels. They deliver a touch of healthy fats from olive oil, and each serving has a couple grams of fiber, which will help blunt your hunger. Plus they have only a tenth as much saturated fat. APPETIZER SAVINGS: 150 calories!
Grill Away Your Gut PLATE #2: HOT DOG Don't Eat That: Bratwurst (2 with buns) 740 calories 49 g fat (12 g saturated) 1,854 mg sodium +Potato Salad (1 cup) 360 calories 21 g fat (4 g saturated) 1,323 mg sodium TOTAL:1,100 calories70 g fat (16 g saturated)3,177 mg sodiumCalorie Equivalent: 39 Nathan’s Famous Beef Cocktail Franks—that’s nearly an entire package!
The typical brat, before you even add a bun, can deliver about 300 calories and as much as half your day’s saturated fat. If that’s all you eat for the day, fine, but that’s not how most people celebrate. During the holidays, we like to pile our plates high, and to do that, we have to make smart decisions about what we put on those plates. Eat This! Hebrew National 97 percent Fat Free Beef Franks (with Pepperidge Farm Classic Whole Grain White Hot Dog Bun)300 calories 4 g fat (0 g saturated)1,400 mg sodium + Van Camp's Pork & Beans (1 cup) 220 calories 2 g fat (0 g saturated) 780 mg sodium TOTAL: 520 calories6 g fat (0 g saturated)2,180 mg sodiumHebrew National makes one of our favorite dogs, and here’s why: It relies on lean beef, which cuts the calories dramatically. Put that on Pepperidge Farm’s Whole Grain White Bun and you earn a couple grams of fiber, but you don’t lose the soft airiness of white bread. For side, there are few foods better than Pork & Beans. Beans are actually extremely rich in antioxidants, and if you eat a full cup of Pork & Beans, you’ll take in 12 grams of fiber. For comparison, the potato salad only has about 3 grams.
BONUS TIP: Are you making smart diet decisions and still watching your waistline continue to expand? You may be sabotaging yourself without realizing it—protect yourself from the sneaky
HOT DOG SAVINGS: 580 calories!
20 Scariest Food Facts
PLATE #3: STEAK
Don’t Eat That!Rib Eye (6 oz, choice, trimmed of fat)465 calories37.5 g fat (15.5 g saturated)350 mg sodium+Baked Potato with butter and sour cream400 calories14 g fat (6 g saturated)590 mg sodium+Typical Iced Tea (1 bottle,16 oz) 180 calories 0 g fat 44 g sugars TOTAL: 1,045 calories51.5 g fat (21.5 g saturated)940 mg sodiumCALORIE EQUIVALENT: 1/2 of a medium Domino’s hand-tossed pie with pepperoni, sausage, bacon, and beef
Rib eye is among the fattiest cuts of beef you can buy. Even after you trim the fat cap, each single ounce packs in more than 10 percent of your day’s saturated fat. The problem gets worse when you add a loaded baked potato, which is essentially a boot-size hunk of starchy carbohydrates covered in dairy fat. And that iced tea? It has as much sugar as a soda. Just because it’s not carbonated doesn’t mean it won’t make you fat. Eat This!Sirloin (6 oz, choice, trimmed of fat)300 calories16 g fat (6 g saturated)350 mg sodium+Cascadian Farms Crinkle Cut French Fries (3-oz serving) 110 calories4 g fat (1 g saturated)10 mg sodium+Ketchup (2 Tbsp)40 calories0 g fat320 mg sodium+ Honest Community Green Tea (1 bottle, 16 oz) 34 calories 0 g fat 5 g sugars TOTAL: 484 calories20 g fat (7 g saturated)685 mg sodiumBut a meat-and-potatoes meal is still well within your reach. Sirloin is thought of as the beef-lover’s steak. Without all the fat, it better showcases steak’s true flavor. But what’s shocking here is that you can actually eat French fries and save calories. A normal handful of fries contains far fewer carbohydrates than a full potato. But it picks up a boatload of fat in the deep fryer. Cascadian’s Farms fries aren’t fried. They’re lightly tossed in canola oil and apple juice, which helps them turn brown and crispy in the oven. You won’t find healthier fries anywhere, guaranteed. STEAK SAVINGS: 561 calories!
PLATE #4: DESSERT
Don’t Eat That:Apple Pie (1 slice, 1/8 of 9-inch pie)410 calories19.5 g fat (5 g saturated)21 g sugars+Breyer’s Smooth & Dreamy ? Fat Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (1 scoop)120 calories3.5 g fat (2 g saturated)16 g sugarsTOTAL:530 calories23 g fat (7 g saturated37 g sugarsCALORIE EQUIVALENT: 15 Dunkin’ Donuts Cocoa Glazed Munchkins
Yes, apple pie is the American dessert, but so what? Baseball is the American sport, and plenty ball players are overweight. Babe Ruth was so big they immortalized him as a Baby Ruth candy bar. Truth is, the apples in apple pie are about as healthy as the strawberry on a strawberry daiquiri. Eat This!Breyer’s Smooth & Dreamy Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (2 scoops) 240 calories7 g fat (4 g saturated)32 g sugars+Blueberries (1/4 cup)20 calories0 g fat4 g sugarsTOTAL260 calories7 g fat (4 g saturated)36 g sugarsDESSERT SAVINGS: 270 calories!
The best desserts are the simplest. Take a couple scoops of ice cream and cover them with fresh fruit for something that’s simultaneously sweet and healthy. Or, if you must have a sensory experience of hot and cold, take a scoop of vanilla and top it with a shot of really strong coffee. That’s what the Italians eat for dessert, and look how thin they are. More from Men’s Health: