Memorial Day officially kicked off the start of another BBQ season. This year, take advantage of the variety of recipes available and make a skewer to satisfy any palette. That’s right, fire up your grill and break out the skewers, because we’ve got 5 reasons why grilled skewers fit right into your diet or healthy lifestyle.

 Lean protein and veggies

BBQ food covers the spectrum from super healthy to…super not. Set yourself up for success by replacing some, or all, of those hot dogs and French fries with delicious skewers. Some of the healthiest skewers include a lean protein, such as chicken or fish, combined with vibrant, crunchy, and delicious mixed vegetables. The possibilities are endless, and by cutting out the higher fat BBQ foods, you can promote heart health and weight loss. Also, alternating protein and vegetables will bulk up your skewers without packing in the calories.

 Portion control

What dieter doesn’t love built in portion control? When food is in skewer form, you have a better sense of how much food is in front of you, and the amount of food is limited to what fits on the skewer. Alternate protein with veggies which making the skewer to assure a balanced meal. The visual effect of food spaced out on a stick will make you feel like you’re eating more than you actually are. Lastly, keeping track of how much you’re eating is easy when you’re left with a clean skewer stick on your plate as evidence.

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Less oil

Whether you’re dining out or eating at home, opting for grilled is almost always a healthier choice over choosing something fried or covered in a sauce. Grilling food uses less oil than other cooking methods without compromising the flavor or texture. Also, when you grill, the natural fats in your protein cook off and drain to the grate below. Saving calories from the fat content of your meal can make up for that extra wine you hadn’t intended on having.

 Shorter cooking time

Cutting food into pieces to spear on a skewer ensures that it will cook faster. A shorter cooking time is important, as it cuts down on harmful compounds that are created during the natural cooking process. Having a shorter wait time for your food will also lessen the likelihood of having an unhealthy, pre-dinner snack to satisfy your hunger while you wait for your meal.

 No buns

Putting food on a stick may just be the best invention since sliced bread. While hamburger and hotdog buns are a staple at any BBQ, they are not necessarily a nutritious choice for someone managing their weight. Skewers are a great way to enjoy hands-on, BBQ cuisine, without the extra calories and empty carbs. Another benefit is having those crunchy vegetables accompanying your protein, which will add fiber and vitamins with little calories.  

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.

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