Happy Game Day! Football season is finally here. Anyone as psyched as I am?!
Since we’re still getting to know one another around here, it might be worth mentioning that I LOVE sports. And especially football. I am forever a Deac (hate the TERPS!), and will remain loyal to my alma mater always. Oh, and maybe you’ve heard of my hometown teams? :p I’m a huge PATS fan and Super Bowl Sunday is my favorite holiday of the year.
Even if you’re not into football, or you’re one of those fans whose understanding of the game is limited to the whereabouts of the All-American QB, the tailgates are fun, no? At my school and at many, the pre-game festivities arguably draw a larger crowd than the games themselves. Sad is the sight of an empty student section at the conclusion of the first half.
Though my collegiate tailgate experience was different than most, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I began my freshman year at the University of Maryland and spent more weekends in DC than in College Park, missing out on…the whole season. UMD wasn’t the right fit from the start, so I can’t say I missed it. I chose to transfer to Wake Forest University after my freshman fall, and would go on to spend the next three college football seasons as a student trainer for the Demon Deacons, staffing practices, the sidelines at home games and traveling with the team on the road. Some of my fondest memories as an undergraduate are from College GameDay. As one of just a few females on staff surrounded by a whole lot of testosterone, there were definitely some awkward moments (the guys never thought anything was awkward, btw… seriously, five-year olds in football players bodies… they laugh at everything). Looking back though, the laughs that were had, the memories made and the friendships that formed heavily outweigh any awkward moments. The 105 of them definitely made up for the brother I never had.
Anyways, back to the tailgate. It wasn’t until after graduation that I attended my first Wake tailgate, but I managed to attend just a few others prior to that. SO fun. I mean, what more could you ask for? Booze everywhere, and oh-so-good eats… that are not oh-so-good for your bod. Not to worry, I’ve got you covered. Remember that while one Saturday of continuous boozing and “bad” eats won’t kill you (it’ll just make you hold water), multiply that by a season of Saturdays and college weekends that regularly commence on Wednesdays and you’ve concocted the perfect recipe for fat gain. With that, here are my top 7 tips for navigating the tailgate to help you minimize damage to your physique:
1. Workout early. Since no one kicks off before noon, do not allow a lack of time to be an excuse to not fit a workout in. And when you’re a part of the intensity over duration camp like me, 20-30 minutes of exercise is all you need. Intense exercise (i.e. weight training) primes your body to build muscle and leaves you more insulin sensitive post-workout. This means that additional calories and/or carbs consumed in the window following such a workout are less likely to go towards fat storage, but instead will aid in muscle repair and growth. Even if only a walk, something is better than nothing. I practice rest-based training in most all of my Metabolic Effect-style workouts and am usually in, out and done before most people have finished their 20-25 minute steady state cardio warm-up. #FTW If you don’t know where to start, be sure you’re on my FREE VIP email list (see right side bar). I send out lots of free, quality content (included workouts).
2. Eat something before. Have you ever deprived yourself in the hours leading up to the tailgate, “saving” your cals for later? Then you arrive to the tailgate ravenous and want to eat (or drink) everything in sight? Willpower is exhaustible and so this kind of approach is not sustainable over the long-term. The binges that result do nothing but leave us feeling big and bloated. Yuck! I’m not saying to eat the hugest meal you ever have pre-tailgate, but grab a protein bar, an apple and a handful of nuts, or a big salad with protein to keep your hunger, energy and cravings balanced so that you don’t arrive to the tailgate at a 10 on the hunger scale. Moderation takes years of practice, but you’ve got to start somewhere. And there’s no better place to start, IMO, than in tough situations like these where it seems everyone around you is eating and/or drinking whatever the heck they want. Practice makes better 🙂
3. Bring something fat-loss friendly. Going prepared is the best kind of defense you can play in these kinds of situations. Bring something health(ier) [that you enjoy!] so that you don’t find yourself stuck. If all else fails and there’s nothing else FLF, eat what you brought and stick with that. Fat-loss friendly football food does not have to be boring. Pinterest always has super cute ideas, but don’t be afraid to play around with recipes that you already have. Ask yourself: how can I up the protein, decrease the carbs (or fat, if it’s higher carb)? And if baking/cooking is just totally not your thing, shove a bunch of FLF snacks in your purse. Guys: ask one your girl friends to hold them for you- she surely has enough room in her bag. Trust me. [Note: depending on the region of the country you’re in, anything that’ll melt (i.e. chocolate-y protein bars) is prob not the wisest choice… at least for the first part of the season when it’s still hot outside.]
4. Protein + veggies. This combination will leave you feeling satisfied more quickly, and it’s likely you’ll actually end up eating less overall. Foods from the grill are often a safe(r) choice, but consider doubling your protein and ditching the bun. Load your plate with a selection from the veggie platter, but leave the dip behind. *Quick tip: if you can’t stomach raw veggies plain, try dipping them in a little mustard that is surely lying around for the hot dogs and burgers. Or my fave? Salsa, or a dollop of guacamole- great source of healthy fats and totally fine without the carbs. Just watch the serving size.
5. FAT > CARBS Not together. Chips & dip? Sounds good but eaten together, carbs & fat create an atomic bomb for fat storage (because, hormones). Eat the chips by themselves (blah) with protein, or dip with a fork or fibrous veggies.
6. Alternate your beverages. I’m not telling you to drink, or not, but if you’re boozing, alternate with water. No one will know what’s in the red solo cup unless you tell them. Water not only keeps you hydrated (alcohol has a dehydrating effect), but also helps balance your fluids. When our sodium intake is high (as is often the case with heavily processed foods), we tend to hold water (retention) but the more water you drink, the more you’ll shed. Carry a water bottle with you everywhere and refill often!
7. Gum. This is an easy trick. I keep a pack of sugar-free gum with me at all times and pop a piece either preemptively or after I’ve already finished eating so as to avoid continuous meal syndrome. I prefer minty because it doesn’t taste good with anything but water, but if you have a sweet tooth, there are plenty of dessert and fruity-flavored options for you to choose from.
And in case you’re a lover of all-things buffalo sauce like me, here’s a RECIPE for you. A cleaned-up buffalo chicken dip that’s super easy to prepare. If you’re dairy sensitive, hang tight. More recipes to come 🙂 Let me know if you give it a try!
Preheat: 350 F
1 c. chicken, cooked + shredded (Rotisserie, grilled.. anything will work. I’m lazy and buy the pre-cooked stuff from Trader Joe’s).
1 c. plain greek yogurt
2 T. hot sauce
½ c. cottage cheese (I prefer no salt added, but in the grand scheme of things, nbd)
Combine the first three ingredients in a small, oven-safe dish (I doubled the recipe and used an 8×8 Pyrex). Top with cottage cheese and bake for 20 minutes. Move to top rack and broil for 5 minutes. Enjoy!