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Healthy BBQs: What to Choose, What to Avoid

The summer BBQ is a tradition for warm weather gatherings. For those of us working on our healthy living goals, walking in to a picnic table filled with food can seem like a challenge – but CalorieKing members are the masters of planning ahead so we can meet our goals.

We thought it was time to share our healthy choices with you!

Meat:CalorieKing Blog tbone steak


8 oz. of lean T-Bone Steak, no salt (grilled weight yields 4 oz. lean meat):

Cal: 270   Fat: 12g    Sodium: 80mg


6 oz. of Pork Spare Ribs (from 1 lb. raw weight), including honey BBQ marinade:

Cal: 480   Fat: 52g  Sodium: 980mg


Cal: 410   Fat: 40g   Sodium: 900mg


Hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages all have very similar calorie counts when looking at comparable serving sizes. The big difference?  The sodium. Hot dogs and sausages can have up to 780mg of sodium – even if the serving size is smaller than a hamburger. The sodium can make you so thirsty, you eat and drink more than you’d like!

The best choice for a BBQ? Kebabs! With a light marinade and a combination of meat and veggies you are sure to get a better mix to fill you up.


Choose:CalorieKing Blog Grilled Chicken

3 oz. chicken breast, no skin:

Cal: 110   Fat: 3g   Carbs: 0  Sodium: 60mg


6 chicken wings, meat and skin and honey BBQ  marinade:

Cal: 440   Fat: 22g   Carbs: 44g   Sodium: 1320mg


Cal: 330   Fat: 19g   Carbs: 44   Sodium: 1260mg


With chicken, remember the skin and marinades can be your downfall – even if your serving is a tiny little chicken wing. Skin and heavy, salty marinades can pack a punch.  Again, we love kebabs for a healthy choice!



1 medium corn on the cob (no salt or butter)

Cal: 60   Fat: 1g   Carbs: 2g  Sodium: 0mg


1 cup pasta salad

Cal: 394   Fat: 22g   Carbs: 2g   Sodium: 580mg


Cal: 334   Fat: 21g   Carbs: 0g   Sodium: 580mg


You won’t be surprised by the amount of calories and fat you’ll find in sides prepared with mayonnaise or butter. As for sodium? Potato salad and baked beans have loads of hidden sodium. Anything that is pre-packaged could have loads of it so check your labels.

Our best choice for a BBQ side? A simple vegetable salad, with a dressing on the side only adds up to 20 calories per cup. Not bad!

Snacks and Chips:

Choose:CalorieKing Blog Healthy Vegetable Snack

Raw Vegetables (four strips of carrots, three broccoli florets)

Cal: 28   Fat: 0g   Carbs: 6g   Sodium: 0mg


1 oz. Nacho Cheese Doritos (approx. 12-13 chips)

Cal: 150   Fat: 8g   Carbs: 17g   Sodium: 180mg


Cal: 122   Fat: 8g   Carbs: 11g   Sodium: 180mg


Amazing how much the calories and sodium can add up before you even eat your dinner! Just bear in mind that corn and potato chips are loaded with fat and salt – head for the veggie platter every time!

Salsas and Dips:


1/4 cup tomato salsa, from a jar

Cal: 20   Fat: 0g   Carbs: 4g   Sodium: 400mg


1/4 cup creamy ranch

Cal: 120   Fat: 10g   Carbs: 6g   Sodium 380mg


Cal: 100   Fat: 10g   Carbs: 2g


While you can save calories by choosing a vegetable based dip such as salsa, guacamole or hummus be aware you’ll find a fair amount of sodium in these pre-prepared options. When you can, make your own dips and you can control the amount of salt. And of course, limit your creamy choices which can be higher in fats.



12 fl. oz. Diet Soda

Cal: 1   Carbs: 0g   Sodium: 50mg


8.5 fl.oz. Energy Drink

Cal: 113   Carbs: 28g   Sodium: 200mg


Cal: 112   Carbs: 28g   Sodium: 150mg


Surprised to see sodium in your soda? Remember to read those labels! Is the cooler full of soda bottles? Check the serving size; the calorie count generally is for one serving but bottles often contain two! In this case notice the energy drink has a smaller serving size, but still costs you more in calories, carbs and sodium!

The best choice for quenching your thirst? Water! If ice water isn’t your thing, try adding a slice of fresh fruit to flavor it as you sip.  Another good option is fruit juice – it is slightly less calories plus far less chemicals and additives.


Choose:CalorieKing Blog Beer

12 fl. oz. Light Beer

Cal: 105  Carbs: 6g   Sodium: 10mg


3.3 fl. oz. glass Margarita

Cal: 153   Carbs: 7g   Sodium: 580mg


Cal: 50   Carbs: 1g   Sodium: 570mg


We know you love those margaritas – just watch the salt and alcohol content which can be extremely high for their smaller serving size compared to other alcohol choices. If you choose to have a margarita – ask for it on the rocks with no salt.

If do indulge in alcohol, remember it can lessen our inhibitions and often our careful planning for healthy eating gets forgotten.  Plus, remember alcohol is a higher calorie choice with little nutritional value – meaning they are empty calories.  If you want to indulge, space out your drinking and go slow. Drink a glass of water for every glass of alcohol you have.

Most of all, remember to have a designated driver or call a taxi for a responsible ride home.


Choose: CalorieKing Blog Slice of watermelon

10 oz. wedge watermelon

Cal: 86   Fat: 0g   Carbs: 22g   Sodium: 0mg


1 plain piece cheesecake (1/6 of whole cake)

Cal: 257   Fat: 18g   Carbs: 20g   Sodium: 170mg


Cal: 171   Fat: 18g   Sodium: 170mg


Sure, brownies, ice cream and those Jell-O desserts are delicious! Try just having a taste, but filling up on the best of what summer has to offer: fruit! Watermelon is a BBQ classic and many fruits are excellent when placed on the grill!  Don’t let the freshness of the season pass you by!

3 Responses to Healthy BBQs: What to Choose, What to Avoid

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I see your willpower with the 1/2 senvrigs! Dinner looked like happy hour gone wild though. It’s so easy to go over calorie count and it’s just as easy to go under (with planning). I’d suggest having a bigger breakfast and more filling, but not as calorie-dense afternoon snack, and then have a dinner that’s less than 400 calories. Btw, I can dish out the advice, but for me to follow my own is a whole nother story. *smh*

healthy eating tips for families…

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