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What’s the Best Thing to Eat at a Sports Bar When Youre Trying to Lose Weight?

8/22 9:24:23

The question: March Madness is about to begin, which means I'm about to spend a lot of time in sports bars. What's the smartest thing for me to order if I'm trying to lose weight?

The expert: Jennifer McDaniel, R.D.N., owner of McDaniel Nutrition Therapy in St. Louis and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

The answer: It's often less about what you order and more about how you order it, says McDaniel. For example, if the bar's wings are beer-battered and fried, ask if they can be grilled instead. If burgers are on the menu, check if the bar also carries veggie, buffalo, or bison options. Or order the thin-crust pizza, but request that the cook go light on the cheese and load it with veggies and chicken instead of pepperoni. And, yes, get the side salad instead of the side of fries.

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"Being in charge of the menu," as McDaniel refers to it, also applies to the portion size. Ask for your burger or grilled chicken sandwich with only half a bun. Or get even more creative: "If they've got potato skins, they probably can bake you a baked potato," says McDaniel—and it'll likely be a way more reasonable serving size. (Just be smart about the toppings, warns McDaniel; salsa and guac or even a little sprinkle of the stuff on your friend's potato skins is fine, but don't order yours loaded up with the regular amount of bacon, sour cream, and cheese.)

All this being said, there are some food options you're better off staying far, far away from in general: cheesy dips, fried onion rings, and loaded nachos, for example. While these foods are OK as occasional indulgences if you're just trying to eat a healthy diet overall, they're not exactly going to put you on the fast track to weight loss.

And don't forget to factor those pesky liquid calories into your game plan. Check out our list of the best light beers, and alternate every drink with a full glass of water to keep the calories in check (and keep yourself hydrated), says McDaniel.

MORE: The Habit That's Costing You THOUSANDS of Calories

Of course, it's easy to get caught up in the game and lose track of what you're consuming food- and drink-wise. So before you head to the sports bar, check out these tips on mindfulness and sane eating strategies for sports game parties.

MORE: Why March Madness Is Good for Your Relationship

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