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The Diet Detective
On Super Bowl Sunday, armchair quarterbacking just won't cut it
The Super Bowl has become much more than a football game: It's the second-biggest day for food consumption in the United States, after Thanksgiving.
So, to choose the most splurge-worthy foods, here are the exercise equivalents (based on a 155-pound person) for some of your favorite football snacks. Keep in mind that we all have a daily caloric budget, so it is only after you use your daily budget that the exercise equivalents kick in.
A handful of Doritos = 43 touchdown dances in the end zone. Chips are pretty expensive, calorically. A handful of Cooler Ranch Doritos is 140 calories.
Diet pro: Eat one at a time, and don't put out huge bowls of them — make it so you have to get up each time you want more than six chips.
Two slices of stuffed pizza with the works = 197 minutes cleaning the stadium after the game. Having two slices of Pizza Hut's Large Stuffed Crust Pizza means you're looking at more than 800 calories. That word "stuffed" should give you a clue.
Diet pro: Get thin-crust pizza with veggies, and eat it for lunch or dinner instead of a halftime snack.
Five pretzels = 15 minutes walking around looking for your car after the game. Yes, I'm talking about five regular pretzels out of a bag (e.g., Rold Gold Classic Pretzels). They add up to about 60 calories. For some reason, people think pretzels are healthful. They don't have fat, but they also have no nutritional value.
Diet pro: Avoid pretzels loaded with cheese — wow, are they high in calories.
Four beers = 64 minutes of climbing the stadium stairs. Yes, beer has calories: about 150 for 12 ounces.
Diet pro: There are some great light beers out there. Do a taste test before the game.
Part of a giant Italian sub = 138 ½ minutes performing in a marching band. A 6-inch sub with salami, pepperoni, ham, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise is about 650 calories.
Diet pro: Go for low-fat cheese and skip the mayo.
Five buffalo chicken wings = 102 minutes of refereeing the game. The wings are fried, and that blue-cheese dressing can be caloric suicide. Just five wings with 3 tablespoons of blue cheese dressing = 599 calories.
Diet pro: Use hot sauce instead of blue cheese. Make the wings yourself. Go skinless, and bake them instead of frying. With all that football action, you probably won't even notice the difference.
Half order of baby-back ribs = 73 minutes of cheerleading. Ribs are good, but they're packed with calories. They're fatty and the sauce is sugary. And don't kid yourself — cheerleading is serious, hard work.
Diet pro: Make the ribs yourself. Trim all fat before and after cooking, and — instead of coating with an excessive amount of sauce beforehand — partially cook them loaded with seasonings, brush them lightly with sauce and then finishing cooking.
Eight potato chips with dip = biking to the game from your South Beach hotel. It's about 18 miles from there to Dolphin Stadium, which is what it would take to burn off the chips and dip. Each chip is 14-15 calories. For each scoop of Ruffles French Onion Dip, add another 55 to 60 calories. Grand total: as many as 600 calories.
Diet pro: Try a low-calorie dip (2 tablespoons and 44 calories), or make your own with nonfat yogurt or mayo.
A few nachos = 97 minutes as the team mascot. Each chip has about 14 calories. Now add cheese, beans and ground beef, and just six nachos are about 569 calories — not to mention the sour cream and guacamole, for another 150 calories.
Diet pro: Make the nachos with low-fat cheese and black beans, not refried. Use salsa and baked chips and you'll be even better off.
Two handfuls of Chex Mix = 30 minutes jumping up and down after your team scores. At 280 calories, 1 ounce of this mix is still high in calories even though it's lower in fat than chips.
Diet pro: Don't eat it by the handful, or skip it all together and go for some low-cal microwave popcorn instead. Even better, make it air-popped and use a margarine spray.
Baked ziti = Playing pro football for 39 ½ minutes. This is basically pasta with lots of cheese and sauce. It's the cheese that makes it so high in calories: 420 calories for 6 ounces.
Diet pro: Have it as a meal, not just a snack. Try making it with low-fat mozzarella and lower-calorie sauce.
Two pieces of fried chicken = Doing "the wave" 3,220 times. One deep-fried chicken breast and one thigh are about 660 calories.
Diet pro: Make your own chicken with breading. Go skinless and bake it instead of frying.
A bowl of chili = Running 100 football fields. A 16-ounce bowl of chili packed with beef and beans comes to about 500 calories. A few tablespoons of sour cream and some shredded cheese add 150 calories more, for a grand total of 650 calories.
Diet pro: Use ground sirloin or white-meat turkey, or make it vegetarian. Skip the sour cream and cheese or go for no- or low-fat versions.
Three tortilla chips topped with Seven-Layer Dip = 15 ½ minutes climbing the stadium stairs. This is a serious dip, with refried beans, olives, guacamole, sour cream and cheese, and it costs about 90 to 105 calories (30-35 calories per tablespoon) with an additional 42 calories for three chips. The grand total: 147 calories.
Diet pro: If you make the dip, use low-fat cheese and sour cream and black beans, not refried. Or you could switch to salsa: 2 tablespoons have only about 15 calories. Also, go for light or baked chips instead of fried.
Charles Stuart Platkin is a nutrition and public-health advocate, author of "The Diet Detective's Count Down" (Simon & Schuster, 2007) and founder of the health and fitness network, DietDetective.com.
Copyright, 2007, by Charles Stuart Platkin