A perk of living in Texas is that we are very rarely plagued by snow or cool weather. Our barbecue season lasts longer than most, however summer is still the season linked with Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day parties, which often involve beer, beef, and BBQ sauce. But there comes a time when you get tired of the same old BBQ, where you drink and eat far too much, and feel your dream beach body slipping away. Well there are ways to barbecue without feeling as if you’re cheating your diet. Here is our guide to the perfect healthy barbecue.
Healthy Grilling Tips
Did you know that consuming well-done meat on a regular basis raises your chances of getting pancreatic cancer by 60%? That is a scary thought. You probably didn’t realize how important the cut, temperature, and marinade were to the meat you eat. Make sure to follow these tips to ensure you are eating a healthy meal:
- Choose the Right Meat: When it comes to meat, your choice is crucial. Opt for leaner meats packed with protein such as chicken, fish, pork, and turkey. You may have noticed we didn’t mention red meat. Well, red meat is said to increase risk of bowel, pancreatic, and prostate cancer. However, red meat is still not bad for you when eating sparingly and in small doses. It has high amounts of iron, protein, and vitamin B12, and we recommend only eating a maximum of 500 grams of red meat per week. So if you still want to grill up that steak, opt for small portions and balance them with sides, such as some grilled potatoes and asparagus. Also opt for loins and round cuts at the store that are grass or grain fed. Yes, they are a little more expensive, but you don’t want to eat cheap meat that could potentially have hormones and additives. Also always make sure to trim the fat, even if you buy a cut with low fat.
- Stay Away from Processed Meats: It is time to stop eating processed meats. No more hot dogs, ham, or bacon. Why? The World Health Organization has deemed that altering meats through processes such as salting, curing, fermenting, and smoking make them toxic and can lead to colon cancer. WHO stated that processed meats are now Group 1 Carcinogens, with other well-known cancer-causing agents such as smoking, drinking, and asbestos. So no more grilling hot dogs and pick from the wide range of other delicious BBQ foods.
- Grill Vegetables: If replacing your meat with vegetables doesn’t sound appealing, try at least replacing a portion of your meat with vegetables. Mixed veggie and meat kebabs are a great way to decrease red meat intake and introduce more vegetables. Vegetables contain no carcinogens and will keep you from overdoing it on the meat.
- Grill for a Short Period of Time at a Low Heat: As we mentioned, well-done meat poses health risks. But did you know that cooking your meat at a high heat is risky? High heat causes two carcinogens, heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, to form in the meat. Keep the temperature under 325 degrees, the known temperature when HCAs begin to form. Also, shorten grill times by partially roasting or microwaving it beforehand. Just microwaving your meat beforehand for a mere two minutes decreases HCAs by 90%. Remember when pre-cooking to remove the excess juices which are filled with HCAs. Also, once your meat is on the grill, flip it often. By keeping your meat off the heat longer, you are doing your body a favor. Studies have shown that long grilling times can increase the risk of stomach, lung, and breast cancer (let your lady know), so cook your meat as quickly as possible, and definitely don’t eat it well-done.
- Marinade Your Meat: Studies have shown that by introducing a marinade into your meat, you can decrease the formation of HCAs by an average 60%. HCAs, as previously mentioned, are carcinogens formed in muscle foods during high temperature grilling. Studies have shown that marinading the meat in herbs or spices decreases the total HCA content. One study found that using a Caribbean marinade decreased the HCA content by 88% as opposed to a Southwest marinade which decreased the HCA by 57%. Rosemary is a great addition, and can sometimes cause a reduction of HCA by 90%. Alcohol is also a great marinade, especially red wine, which is well known for being rich in antioxidants. By marinating meat, studies have shown that the amount of carcinogens decreased by 40%. But be careful not to over marinade. Studies have also shown that soaking your meat for too long cuts down on the antioxidants provided in the sauces or herbs, so limit marinading to only a couple hours.
- Pick the Right BBQ Sauce: Many barbecue sauces are filled with way too much sugar and salt. Both are necessary ingredients, but many bottled sauces contain high fructose corn syrup as their source of sweetener and put an absurd amount of salt. Make sure you are checking the bottle and only choosing sauces with healthier sweeteners, such as honey or maple syrup. To avoid picking a very sugary BBQ sauce, the Food Network recommends a bottle with 15 grams of sugar or fewer. If you are planning on buying a BBQ sauce instead of attempting to make your own, we recommend going with the local Stubbs All Natural BBQ sauce. The Food Network also recommends these brands:
- Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Sensuous Slathering Sauce
- TJ’s Bold and Smoky Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce
- Consorzio Organic BBQ Sauce
- Annie’s Naturals Organic Smokey Maple BBQ Sauce
- Bone Suckin’ Barbecue Sauce & Marinade Original
Drink the Right Stuff
We have posted about the consequences of excessive alcohol before. Sometimes you can’t help but want a couple beers on a hot summer day. But if you’re going to indulge, make sure you are drinking a sufficient amount of water and staying hydrated. Also, be sure not to make common day drinking mistakes. Need tips to day drink the right way? Read here.
Contact Armor Men’s Health
Still looking for ways to Barbecue and stay healthy? Contact Armor Men’s Health for questions or to make an appointment. Call 512-617-8801 or fill out the form on our contact page here.