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Super Bowl snacks have you feeling like a wide receiver?
Ugh. You're probably dreading hearing admonishments like that. Can't a girl watch the Packers battle the Steelers in peace, instead of obsessing over how many calories are in that seven-layer taco dip (you don't want to know) and how they'll wreck our "end zones"? One exception to our aversion to this kind of data: We kind of love the fact that the Calorie Control Council and Snack Food Association calculated that Americans will plow through 11.2 million pounds of potato chips this Sunday.
Rather than arrive at your party on the defensive, why not approach the Game Day spread by asking each dish, "What can you do for my workout?" We spoke with Barbara Lewin, RD, a sports nutritionist based in South Florida, about using Super Bowl eats to fuel you workout. Here were her recommendations:
Power up with protein. Wave goodbye to chicken wings: They're mainly fat, skin and bones, none of which do anything for your energy levels. Instead, scoop up some turkey or veggie chili. "Beans are packed with muscle-fueling protein and satiating fiber," Lewin says. If your host offers fat-free sour cream or two percent Greek yogurt, add a dollop, but if you truly love chili fixins, it's perfectly fine to sprinkle of some sharp cheddar and a little real sour cream. "It is just one day," Lewin notes. Think of the cheese and sour cream as a really delicious way of nabbing some bone-building calcium.
The ultimate lean protein pick is shrimp cocktail; if you've got an invite to a Super Bowl party where shrimp's being served, we'd like to tag along. But even burgers or sliders can be good for you; just be sure to pile them high with nutrient-rich veggies and skip the cheese (fat takes a long time to digest, leave you feeling sluggish).
Go for a dip. Creamy artichoke dip may taste like heaven-in-a-bread-bowl, but it'll hang around for hours in your stomach, and it is bubbling with artery-clogging saturated fat. Satisfy your hand-to-mouth cravings with baby carrots and hummus, and baked tortilla chips and guacamole. Or bring your own healthy homemade seven-layer dip: Layer fat-free refried beans and sour cream, black olives, salsa, guac and low-fat cheddar.
Salsa is another all-star, low in calories but rich in antioxidants like lycopene. The bonus: cilantro -- those bright green herby flecks you see in salsa and guac -- has antibacterial properties, a plus considering how long some Super Bowl snacks hang around unrefrigerated.
Don't skimp on carbs. Lewin says that a low-carb, Atkins diet mentality still exists among athletes, including one of her female Ironman clients. But skimping on carbs sets you up to feel sluggish during workouts and record slower race times. So go ahead and eat some pita chips. Have a turkey sandwich. You need carbs for fuel!
Lighten up on liquor. Beer, wine and hard liquor are all incredibly dehydrating, which will leave you parched and fatigued during exercise (just one percent dehydration can impair athletic performance.) Plus, you're more prone to make poor eating choices when you're buzzed. So stick to beer or wine spritzers, alternating with water to intercept dehydration.