Eating right is a big part of being an athlete. Getting the most out of your training means giving your body what it needs to stay in peak shape. That being said, it’s not always possible to get into the kitchen and cook up a healthy meal. The good news is that it’s entirely possible to cheat on your diet without throwing your entire nutrition plan out the window.
At the Drive-Thru
If you’re hitting the local fast food joint, the key is to keep it simple. A regular hamburger from McDonald’s, for instance, has 250 calories and 9 g of fat. A Big Mac, on the other hand, has 550 calories and a whopping 29 g of fat. Similarly, a Burger King hamburger contains 240 calories and 8 g of fat, but upgrading to a Whopper® gets you 630 calories and 35 g of fat.
When it comes to condiments, go ahead and splurge. Ketchup and mustard each have less than 20 calories per serving and zero fat. What’s more, ketchup provides you with lycopenes and mustard with glucosinolates, both of which are good cancer-fighting agents.
At the Picnic Table
Skip the hot dog, which contains 20% of your daily allowance of saturated fats and very little nutritional value. Instead, opt for an iron-packed burger or lean grilled chicken. Beans are a great side dish, loaded with fiber and protein, but try to stay away from the potato salad, which is loaded with fat. Instead, help yourself to some coleslaw. While still on the high side, coleslaw is lower in calories and salt than potato salad.
Try to steer clear of the chips, but if you must indulge, go for the tortilla chips, which are lower in calories and fat than their potato counterparts. Guacamole supplies you with vitamin C as well as potassium and fiber, making it a good pairing for your chips.
At Dessert Time
It’s possible to satisfy your sweet tooth and still stick to a healthy diet. The trick is to make smart choices. At the ice cream store, skip the cone and go for the frozen yogurt alternatives. Frozen yogurt has fewer calories and fat, but still has a comparable amount of protein. Resist the temptation to splurge on sugar-laden add-ons and top your treat with fresh fruit or granola instead of syrups and sprinkles.
When it comes to baked treats, both pie and cake are high-calorie, high-fat choices. The exception: angel food cake. Living up to its name, an average serving of angel food cake has only 75 calories and less than half a gram of fat. Top it with some fresh fruit to give it a nutritional boost.
Craving chocolate? Opt for dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. While both have a similar amount of calories, dark chocolate has half the sugar and four times the fiber. Dark chocolate also has a host of other nutrients that are missing in its lighter counterpart, including iron, potassium, and magnesium. What’s more, the theobromine in dark chocolate has been shown to help lower blood pressure, and the antioxidants are great for your heart.
Eating a good diet is an important part of staying in shape, and in most cases making healthy choices is relatively simple. When life gets in the way of your diet, however, it’s time to make adjustments. With a few tricks and some nutritional knowledge up your sleeve, you can have your fast food and eat it, too.