Friday night football’s here. And football, and food, go hand in hand.
Plus… you’ve got all those other sporting events to look forward to!
So, what can you eat from the concession stand, without gaining extra pounds?
(Wanna calculate how many calories you need to get to your goal weight? Click here.)
This guide’ll help you figure out how many calories are in your favorite concession foods.
Then you can make healthier choices.
Then sit back, enjoy yourself, and watch your kids play. Without worrying about the scale.
So, here you go.
Hot dogs aren’t just for baseball; they’re a concession stand staple most Americans love.
But hot dogs aren’t the best food choice; they’re high in calories, fat, and nitrates.
Now, not all hot dogs are created equal; if you’re eating organic, low-fat, nitrate-free dogs, they’re a healthier option.
But, what you get at the concession stand probably isn’t. You’ll be lucky if it’s all beef. (But, hey, you can always ask!)
Here’s the nutritional breakdown for one plain average hot dog (no bun)*:
- Calories: 175
- Fat: 14.89g
- Carbs: 2.54g
- Protein: 7.22g
Now for the bun*:
- Calories: 120
- Fat: 1.5g
- Carbs: 23g
- Protein: 4g
What you get when you eat one hot dog with a bun*:
Calories: 295; Fat: 16.39 g ; Carbs: 25.54; Protein: 11.22
AND WHAT IF YOU EAT 2?
Calories: 590; Fat: 32.78 g; Carbs: 51.08 g; Protein: 22.44 g
AND that’s without toppings!
Skip the slaw and chili to reduce calories. Just top with:
Mustard ( 0 Calories), ketchup (15 calories/1 tablespoon), and diced onion (4 calories/ 1 tablespoon).
Tip: Skip the bun and just eat the dog (you’ll eliminate 120 calories).
Another tip: If you just have to have 2 dogs, ask for one hot dog to be sliced in half lengthwise, then each half placed on a bun. (Don’t be shy!)
You’ll cut about 88 calories for a total of 502 calories (and you still get your 2 hot dogs!).
Nachos, oozing with cheese, are a concession favorite.
And no wonder; here’s their nutrition breakdown for one serving (Just 6-8 nachos!)*:
- Calories: 348
- Fat: 18.95g
- Carbs: 36.33g
- Protein: 9g
Yikes. Just 6-8 nachos… Is it worth it?
If your answer is yes, then try this to make them more calorie conscious:
1. Ask for the cheese on the side; dip the chips in lightly to get the taste, but not all the calories.
2. Skip the cheese and ask for salsa. 🙁 Bummer, but you’ll save lots of fat and calories.
3. Share, share, share. That container probably has at least 4 servings. So, share it with 3 others and you’ll cut your calories by 75%.
A BETTER OPTION: One single serving bag of plain potato chips.
You’ll get: 160 calories; 10 grams of fat; 14 carbs; 1.85 grams protein.
AND you won’t have to share them, either! (Unless you just want to :)!)
Love nibblin’ on these? You’re not alone; these are a favorite of parents, and kids, alike.
But in most concession stands, you’re gonna find them breaded and fried.
While grilled would be better, this is actually not the worst option out there.
Here’s the nutritional breakdown for one serving of 3 tenders*:
- Calories: 260
- Fat: 13g
- Carbs: 13g
- Protein: 24g
If you wanna reduce some of the calories, do this:
1. Blot them with a paper towel.
2. Remove the skin before you eat them.
If this is your WHOLE meal, then you’re not doing bad; but that’s hard to do.
Want a (semi) harmless side to go with it?
Then, ask for:
1. A large dill pickle (about 10 calories and no fat)*.
2. A small serving of coleslaw (1/2 cup has about 145 calories, 10 g fat, and 14 carbs)*.
What about sauces? Opt for a small packet of ketchup for about 15 extra calories.
Top that off with water, or a diet drink, then pat yourself on the back. You got by with about 415 calories. Not too bad for a meal.
French Fries (WHO can resist?)
Not me, either! They’re yummy but loaded with calories (and grease!)
For 1 medium serving, fried in vegetable oil*:
- Calories: 425
- Fat: 23g
- Carbs: 50.26g
- Protein: 5.0g
What can you do to make them healthier?
Unfortunately, not a lot. Your best bet is to share them.
Another tip: Ask for extra paper towels, pour them out on the paper towels and blot the extra oil off; removing any extra oil can remove some of the calories and fat. (This works best if they’re hot and straight out of the fryer.)
One more thing: Some stands offer baked fries; ask, just in case.
If they don’t have them, you might just be able to convince them to offer baked fries. All Friday night fry lovers will thank you!
And if you can do without the salt, stay away from the salt shaker. Most frozen fries have already had salt added; you can ask the server not to shake extra on, if you’re watching your sodium.
Oh. And are you a ketchup lover, like me?
If so, watch out for those little packets; each one adds about 15 calories*. (That’s a lot when you love piling it on!)
We love our pizza!
And it shows; more than 300 slices are eaten per second! Yowza!
Look at the average calories in one slice of pepperoni pizza*:
- Calories: 315
- Fat: 15g
- Carbs: 31g
- Protein: 14g
A better option?
One word: Cheese. Order a slice of cheese pizza, and you’ll reduce the calories and fat (PLUS, you’ll reduce your nitrate intake!).
They don’t have cheese? Then ask them to remove the pepperoni.
THEN, you can blot it with paper towels to remove excess oil. (Try it! You’ll be surprised at how much oil comes off.)
Jumbo Soft Pretzel
Jumbo pretzels are soft and chewy, like comfort food for your brain and tummy!
But, how do they get that way?
Yep, you guessed it. Oil, butter, and salt.
Yummy, but not healthy.
On average, one large soft pretzel, with butter and salt, comes in at nearly 500 calories*! Look:
- Calories: 490
- Fat: 6g
- Carbs: 94g
- Protein: 11g
Depending on the brand, the pretzel you get may not be that high in calories.
But why take a chance?
- Ask for no butter
- Ask for no salt/reduced salt
- Blot the excess oil and butter off
You’ll still get the yumminess, but you’ll be reducing some of the calories.
Peanuts (in shell)
I know, I know. Nuts are healthy. And that’s true.
But, they’re also high in calories and fat.
Which means you can’t scarf down all you want and not gain weight. (Sorry!)
And when you buy peanuts in the shell, it’s hard to know how much you’re eating or how many calories you’re consuming.
Typically, a one ounce serving of salted peanuts, in the shell, has about*:
- Calories: 175
- Fat: 13g
- Carbs: 7g
- Protein: 7g
One ounce isn’t much, girlfriend :(.
And not only that, it’s hard to know how much you’re eating, unless you’re carrying a food scale in your purse! (NOT a bad idea, btw! Check this digital scale out; it only weighs 1.8 pounds and gives weight and nutrition info. I’ve not tried it, BUT it’s at the top of my wish list this year! And it has pretty good reviews, too!)
What you can do for a healthier portion:
— Instead of buying a bag of salted peanuts in the shell, buy a small individual pack; check the calorie/fat counts on the package (most small individual packs have about 170 calories). But, eating it this way lets you know exactly what you’re getting.
— If you have to buy peanuts in the shell, share them. You may not know how many calories you’re getting, but you’ll be reducing them.
Who doesn’t love popcorn?
It’s delish, crunchy, and satisfying.
And it takes longer to munch (which gives your brain longer to tell you you’re not hungry anymore!).
Popcorn IS a healthy option, BUT ONLY without the butter and added salt.
One cup of buttered popcorn, popped in oil*:
- Calories: 80
- Fat: 5.27g
- Carbs: 7.27g
- Protein: 0.96g
Now, look at one cup of air popped popcorn, without the butter and oil*:
- Calories: 31
- Fat: 0.36g
- Carbs: 6.22g
- Protein: 1.04g
That’s less than half of the calories/fat of the popcorn popped in oil, with butter.
What to do:
1. Ask the server if they have air popped popcorn.
2. If not, ask for popcorn without butter.
3. Ask if they have small individual bags of light microwavable popcorn you can buy.
4. Skip the salt; try sprinkling your popcorn with black pepper for a yummy, zesty change.
5. Pop your own air popped popcorn at home, and bring it with you.
Popcorn can be one of your healthiest options, and satisfy your snack tooth, without doing too much damage.
Summing it Up
So, here’s your lowest-calorie choices at the concession stand on Friday night.
From best to worst choices:
1. Popcorn, no butter (31 calories per cup, air popped).
2. One ounce of peanuts (175 calories, and it gives you 7 grams of protein).
3. Chicken fingers, no sauce (260 calories).
4. One hot dog, with bun (295 calories; if you add mustard and ketchup, add 15 calories).
5. One slice pepperoni pizza (315 calories- remove the pepperoni and reduce calories more).
6. 6-8 nachos, with cheese (348 calories- that’s high calories for a small portion).
7. Fries, one medium (425 calories; add 15 calories per pack of ketchup).
8. Jumbo soft pretzel, with butter and salt (490 calories- reduce that by eliminating the butter).
There you go.
Granted, most concession stands aren’t gonna offer healthy choices, but you can make better choices to prevent weight gain (fingers crossed!).
Here’s what you can do:
Plan Your Calories Before Friday
(The best way to make smart choices at the concession stand is to plan ahead.)
If you’re already familiar with the choices offered, look up the nutritional information before Friday rolls around.
- Write down the lowest calorie/fat choices.
- Pick the top three.
- Choose one or two of your choices when you get there; pick the third if the first two aren’t available.
- Share them.
- Consider bringing healthier choices from home.
- Stash some fruit in your handbag, such as apples or pears.
- You can bring a small single serving snack, like yogurt covered raisins, pretzels, or sliced carrots and celery; pair that with one hot dog, or chicken fingers, for a satisfying meal.
- Fill up on water; you’ll feel more full and won’t eat as much. Or bring some unsweetened tea from home and add a squirt of lime or lemon.
- Pop in some sugar-free gum; your mouth will be busy with flavor. (It might help prevent the munchies!)
And when you finish eating, try this trick:
- Pop in some sugar-free, minty gum; your mouth will feel so fresh, you probably won’t be tempted to eat more.
By planning ahead, you can make healthier food choices and survive the Friday night football (or any!) concession stand temptations.
You won’t be afraid to step on your scale Saturday morning, either.
By making healthier choices, you’ll have a win-win at the concession stand, and hopefully for your team on the field!
Source: USDA Food/Nutrient Database
Note: Nutrient information will vary, depending on brand consumed, as well as the size and amount, and any additional ingredients.
*Nutrition information is approximate.