BBQ restaurants are notorious for their large portion sizes. It's easy to eat a full day's worth of calories and fat -- or more -- in just one meal. This doesn't mean that you need to avoid these restaurants; you can still eat healthy if you make the right choices.
While it may be tempting to get an order of spareribs, these tasty treats have a full day's worth of saturated fat with 16 grams. Even an order of a half chicken isn't as healthy as it sounds, as this dish is often basted with fat and the large portion size brings the saturated fat content up to 14 grams. A better choice is smoked barbecue turkey breast, which has about 6 grams of saturated fat, or a pulled pork sandwich, which has about 8 grams of saturated fat. A 4-ounce serving of smoked turkey is only about 160 calories. If you want to order one of the more calorie- and fat-dense options, at least make it into two meals and save half for lunch the next day.
Another option is the type of sauce that's used. When eating at barbecue restaurants, opt for vinegar sauce if it's available, as this sauce tends to be lower in calories. White sauce is typically highest in calories, with mustard and red sauce falling somewhere in between. Just be careful if you need to watch your sodium, as both red and mustard sauces tend to be high in sodium. Whatever type of sauce you choose, limit the amount you use.
No meal at BBQ restaurants is complete without a side dish or two. The problem is, some of these side dishes are very high in fat and calories. For example, macaroni and cheese has almost 500 calories and 23 grams of fat in each 1-cup serving. A serving of onion rings can have more than 900 calories and 50 grams of fat. Cornbread is a slightly better option, since a small 65-gram piece has about 173 calories and 4.6 grams of fat. Most restaurants serve a portion that's way larger than this though. You'll get more nutritional benefits from a serving of cole slaw, which has a similar amount of calories but also 2 grams of fiber and significant amounts of vitamins A, C and K. Even better, opt for a salad with dressing on the side or vegetables that aren't fried or smothered in butter or sauce. Other relatively good side options include baked beans, collard greens or a black bean and corn salad.
For more healthy options, talk with a waiter at a local BBQ restaurant, such as Grumpy's Bar B Que Roadhouse.