How to Enjoy Summer Barbecues Without Derailing Your Health & Fitness Goals

People Gathered Together Enjoying a Healthy Summer BBQ

There’s something special about summertime.

The days are longer. 

The warm temperatures make it easy to get outside.

And, thanks to the sun setting later in the evening, it becomes the perfect time to get out and spend time with friends and family alike.

There’s also one more big summer staple worth mentioning: summer barbecues.

It may seem like barbecues, or at least most of the food served at them, are off-limits if you’re trying to reach your health goals.

But you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that’s not the case.

We’ll show you some science-backed tips to help you weave in the foods you love without derailing your hard work.

We’re also answering questions like these in this article:

  1. How do you stay fit in the summer?
  2. How do you not overeat at a BBQ?
  3. How do you stay healthy at a BBQ?
  4. How to stay on track in summer?

So if you’re trying to stay fit and healthy this summer, don’t sweat it. 

There are plenty of ways to enjoy summer barbecues and these warmer months, and we’ll show you exactly how to do that:

3 Tips for Enjoying Summer Barbecues Without Ruining Your Health and Fitness Goals

If you’re wondering, How do you not overeat at a BBQ? or, How do you stay healthy at a BBQ?, these three tips will help:

1. Load Up on Veggies and Fiber First 

How to Stay Healthy at a BBQ By Eating Your Veggies First

When scanning the delicious food offerings at your next barbecue, loading your plate with pasta salad and coleslaw can be tempting.

But you’re better off starting with a salad or freshly grilled vegetables.

Vegetables are low in calories, so you can fill up on fewer calories while feeling satisfied.

They’re also packed with fiber, which is slow digesting. 

This powerful nutrient may help decrease your risks of heart disease and lower cholesterol.

Eating vegetables before any protein or carbohydrates may also reduce the post-meal insulin spike (more on this shortly) and improve blood sugar control.

Fiber is also great for keeping your gut happy and regular – it helps add bulk to stools so waste can pass through effortlessly.

The problem is that 90% of people don’t meet the daily recommended fiber targets, which range from 22-34 grams depending on age, sex, and other important factors, and it’s time to change that statistic.

After reading this section, you now have plenty of great reasons to start your summer barbecue eating extravaganza with some grilled or fresh veggies or a salad (try this easy and delicious Vegetarian Cobb Salad).

From there, you can move to our next tip:

2. Enjoy a Good Portion of Protein Next

Enjoy Healthy Protein Options at Your Next Summer BBQ

The next nutrient to add to your plate is protein.

Protein is crucial for building and repairing cells and tissues, creating strong muscles, organs, and healthy skin, and helping you fight infections.

If you’re exercising, protein is essential for helping your muscles recover and repair after a nice workout.

It’s also a great tool for helping you reach your health and fitness goals.

That’s because, compared to carbohydrates and dietary fat, protein requires more energy to digest and gives a better feeling of satiety.

Plus, between the protein and the fiber, you’ll be able to feel full and satisfied after eating them together versus being ravenous for more food.

At your next summer barbecue, reach for solid protein sources like hamburgers, shrimp, or grilled chicken (if you need inspiration, try this grilled chicken recipe or these delicious Mango Chicken Kabobs), and enjoy these after you’ve had some veggies.

3. Have Those “Fun” Foods After You’ve Had Your Protein and Veggies 

How to Enjoy Pasta Salad at a Summer Barbecue

Once you’ve had your protein and veggies, you can move on to your go-to barbecue favorites like macaroni salad and potato salad (try this low-fat potato salad for an alternative to the classic dish) or desserts like cookies, cupcakes, or pies.

Eating your food in this particular order may lessen the insulin spike these carbohydrate-rich foods elicit.

According to research, thanks to the satiating, low-blood glucose impact of protein and fiber, they can help mitigate the blood sugar spike that carbs cause.

So instead of cutting out your favorite summer BBQ foods, you can enjoy them after you have protein and fiber.

Plus, loading up on these two foods first means you’ll have less room to fill up on the not-so-good-for-you options. 

This can help you stay on track with your health and fitness goals while still enjoying your summertime favorites.

3 More Tips for Staying Fit and Healthy in the Summer

On top of those healthy eating tips, the following three will ensure that you stay on track all summer long:

1. Get Regular Exercise 

Man Running on His NordicTrack Treadmill to Stay Fit During the Summer Months

Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health.

That’s because it can help give you more energy and reduce fatigue, prevent chronic diseases, reduce stress levels, help you sleep better, control your blood pressure, and help you reach or maintain a healthy weight, among other things.

But, to stay on track with your health goals and experience those great perks, it’s crucial that you try not to let your summer fun derail your consistent workouts.

Try to maintain your exercise routine, which is often easier to do during the winter when there are fewer distractions, and don’t let the summer weather be an excuse to skip a workout.

If it’s too hot or rainy to go outdoors, hop on a NordicTrack treadmillelliptical, or exercise bike to maintain consistency.

When you’re stuck indoors, you can use iFIT workouts, a separate paid subscription service that gives you access to thousands of incredible workouts from expert trainers, to help you stay motivated to work out and on track.

And if the weather is nice, take your workout outdoors and get out in nature – you’ll experience even more health benefits when you do.

Aiming for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week can ensure you don’t experience the “summer slide” that puts you a few steps back from your health goals.

If you’re short on time, opt for short-and-sweet 20-minute workouts since any movement is better than none.

2. Drink Plenty of Water 

Woman Drinking Water to Stay Hydrated and Fit During the Summer Months

With lemonades, iced teas, and fun, fruity cocktails taking center stage during the summer months, water often takes a back seat.

But drinking plenty of water is especially important in the hotter summer months as you sweat, and it’s another key to staying on track with your health and fitness goals.

Water can help prevent you from overheating, it’s great for keeping your digestion on track, it provides essential lubrication for your joints, and it can help your skin maintain its natural summer glow.

So while there’s always room for fun summer drinks, don’t forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day too. 

3. Get Enough Sleep 

Woman Sleeping to Support Her Health Goals and Stay Fit During the Summer Months

Another critical piece of the health puzzle that often slips during summer is getting enough good sleep.

Of course it’s tempting to stay up late and enjoy the long summer days, especially with the sun setting later in the day, but it’s crucial that you get enough sleep each day.

Sadly, one in five Americans have reported sleeping less than six hours a night.

As you’ve likely already seen, not getting enough sleep can affect your mood and may cause you to crave high-calorie foods.

In the long run, a chronic sleep deficit can lead to various issues like cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Sleep is essential for good health, and it’s especially important when you’re trying to stay fit and healthy. 

So aim for 7-8 hours of good quality sleep each night, including in the summer months.

Trust us, you’ll be able to enjoy summer much more when you’re well-rested.

The Bottom Line

You don’t have to steer clear of barbecues and everything summer has to offer just because you have goals to reach.

By following the tips we just shared, you’ll be able to balance enjoying yourself while staying on track. 

So get out there and have some fun!

After all, that’s what summer is all about.

Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. iFIT assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article. Always follow the safety precautions included in the owner’s manual of your fitness equipment.