#209 Blast the Fat This 4th!

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Watermelon—it's a good fruit. You eat, you drink,
you wash your face.

Enrico Caruso

6 Survival Tips for the 4th of July

By Kathy Smith

The biggest culprit to weight gain over a holiday isn't so much the type of food you eat, but how much. Thinking about your past experience at celebrations that entailed copious foods is important. Was it hard to push back from the table and save room for later? Are you stressing that you won't be able to control yourself when confronted with four types of pies? It's not the one meal that's a problem. It's what that one meal triggers: routine overeating. For example, if you stuff yourself at a big Fourth of July barbecue, then surrender to another round of endless eating the next day on leftovers, which repeats the day after that and the day after
that . . . you get used to habitually eating large portions one after the other. Having loads of leftovers around makes this very easy to do. And by the time you get on the scale, well, you can imagine what you'll see. Here are some quick tips to keep you from overindulging:

  1. Don't go hungry! If you go to a picnic or a barbecue with an empty stomach, you're setting yourself up to overindulge. Prepare in advance by making sure you've eaten a little something. Smoothies take less than two minutes to blend, and they can deliver a host of nutrients your body needs. Here's a simple smoothie recipe: Blend together 1 scoop of vanilla-flavored whey, soy, or egg white-based protein powder with 1 cup skim or soy milk (or water), 1/2 cup fresh or frozen berry mix (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries), 1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed or flax oil, and 1 cup ice (optional).

  2. All in moderation. Whether it's cocktails, the picnic table, or tempting desserts, the thing to remember is portion control. No food is totally bad. It's all in how much of it you eat.

  3. Redirect your focus. Don't let food be your only focus. Enjoy the other aspects of a get-together, such as socializing with friends/family/colleagues or join the three-legged race for some fun (as you burn off a few extra calories).

  4. Veg out! If you're the type of person who likes to munch, feel free to fill your plate with items from the veggie platter. Vegetables are low in calories and full of fiber, which will help you feel full. (Just don't make the mistake of drowning them in fattening dips!)

  5. Desserts. When it comes to sweets, think about quality not quantity. Decide if you'd like to sample a couple of different desserts, or savor one particularly yummy one. Whatever you choose, don't forget the portion size. The worst thing you can do is make any food off limits—it will just make you crave it even more!

  6. Alcohol. Alcoholic drinks can really pack a calorie punch so watch your alcohol intake. Allow yourself one drink, keeping in mind the serving sizes: 4 oz. of wine; 6 oz. of beer; and 1 oz. (80 proof) of spirits. A good rule of thumb is to avoid sugary drink mixes and stick with club soda and fresh fruit to spice up your cocktail. Or, avoid alcohol altogether and try a Mock-tail, a combination of club soda and a spritz of cranberry juice. [See Steve Edwards' article on which drinks are best and worst for you.]

For more of Kathy's expert advice and tips, visit Kathy's Corner at the Team Beachbody® Club.  Not a member? Click here to start your membership right away!

Check Steve Edwards' Mailbag for his responses to reader comments. If you'd like to ask a question or comment on a newsletter article, just email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

For Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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7 Ways to Fire Up Your Meat!

By Denis Faye

In a country where battering and frying are national pastimes, the idea of sitting down to a plain, grilled piece of chicken, fish, or tofu can be about as thrilling as eating steamed cardboard. But fortunately, with a little know-how, healthy protein sources don't need to be boring. Here are seven easy ways to zing up your meat.

  1. Mustard. It's yellow, it's spicy, and one teaspoon of the stuff has about five calories. Slather away.

  2. Salt AND pepper. It's not the calories in salt that are problematic, it's the sodium. But given you're on a brutal exercise regimen, you're sweating more than most, so a little salt here and there to replenish what you've lost isn't the end of the world. That said, you don't want to go overboard, so when you salt something, consider coupling it with its zippy, healthy cousin, pepper. That is to say, instead of three shakes of salt, one shake with two shakes of pepper.

  3. Herbs. Basil, oregano, cilantro, etc. Anything that's a dried-up leaf isn't going to hurt your waistline, so get creative.

  4. Rubs. For those of you scratching your head as to how to get creative with herbs, try a rub. Mix a pinch (literally) of salt, a pinch of pepper, and a minced clove of garlic mixed with a couple pinches of basil and oregano. Before you grill your protein, rub the mixture into it. I call this particular ensemble my Italian Rub.

  5. Salad. Make that vinaigrette work a little harder. Chop up your chicken and toss it in with the lettuce and veggies. That light coating of oil and vinegar can pep up even the driest piece of protein.

  6. Marinade. There are two secrets to a healthy, effective marinade. One is to give the meat or tofu as much time as possible to soak in the flavor. Overnight is best. Secondly, when you're done, toss out the excess juice. Good marinades tend to be oily, salty stuff. A little soaked into your meat is fine, especially considering most of it will drain off in the grilling process, but sopping up teaspoons of marinade with bread or rice is bad news.

    A good, junk-free system for making your own marinade is the salty-sweet-oily-spicy combo. Basically, mix four ingredients together that fulfill all those requirements. For example, mix equal parts olive oil, orange juice, and soy sauce with chili powder to taste. (I prefer jalapeño powder.) Pour the stuff over a nice piece of halibut and let soak overnight. Take the fish out of the marinade and plop it on the grill.

  7. Kabobs. Grill your tuna steak on skewers with chunks of tomato, sweet onion, and bell pepper. Not only does this make a relatively boring meal fun, but a mouthful of potentially dry fish explodes with flavor when you've forked it into your mouth with a little grilled onion and tomato. If you really want to get crazy, try marinating and kabobbing! Now you're getting really wacky!

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