By Linda Formichelli
Grilling and six packs go together! Throwing the right foods on the grill will help you gain muscle mass and definition when used in combination with a cardio and weight training regimen. Jim White, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, gives his best tips on how to fire up your six pack when you fire up your grill.
1. Mind the Meat
Lean meats give you the protein you need to build muscle without too much of the fat that makes you pile on the pounds. Put the kibosh on fattier meats like 85% lean ground beef, porterhouse steak, and T-bone steak. Instead, White suggests boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 96% lean ground beef, bison, buffalo, flank steak, sirloin steak, pork tenderloin, and any kind of fish. Delicate fish can fall apart on the grill, so you may want to invest in a grill basket. Vegetarian? Try black bean burgers or grilled tofu.
2. Boost Flavor
Too much oil and sugar add calories you don't need. So how do you add flavor to your lean meats without drenching them in oil-, sugar-, and sodium-laden marinades? Try dry rubs, says White—just rub them into the meat and grill. Look for low-sodium spice blends you can sprinkle on meat, and use hot sauce and cayenne pepper to add a kick. If you opt for a store-bought marinade, look for a low-sodium one with under five grams of sugar per serving, White says.
3. Go Green
Move over, meat—to make room for some grilled veggies that will help fill you up without too many six pack-obscuring calories. Brush them with just a little olive oil—you do need a little healthy fat in your diet—and slap them on the grill right next to the meat, or thread them onto kebabs. White recommends trying zucchini, yellow squash, asparagus, broccoli, sweet potato, or corn on the cob.
4. Sweet Success
The perfect ending to your abs-ripping BBQ? Grilled fruit. Slice pineapple into rounds or split peaches, nectarines, or plums in half and remove the stone, and grill them until tender. To make dessert even sweeter without going overboard on fat and calories, White adds a special ingredient: a chocolate-hazelnut spread warmed with a little milk to make a sauce that you can drizzle over the fruit.
Linda Formichelli has written on health and nutrition for Fitness, Health, Women's Health, WebMD, Alternative Medicine, Redbook, Oxygen, and other national magazines. She is based in North Carolina. Visit Linda at www.lindaformichelli.com.
Reviewed December 2012