Kickoff Your Metabolism: Tailgating Tips For Weight Loss With Coach Ryan McMullen

Coach Ryan McMullen joins us this week to discuss how to navigate a tailgate party while also sticking to your weight loss goals.

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I’m joined by MetPro Coach Ryan McMullen. We are discussing tailgating tips, just in time for football season. Ryan, thank you so much for being here.

Thanks for having me. Apparently, I am the food and drink guy.

If there’s a party, we go to Ryan. We need to start with what exactly a tailgating party is. In full disclosure and transparency, I’ve never been tailgating. I feel like I can’t even belong to the Midwest when I say that. Somehow I’m going to be kicked out of the Midwest by admitting that.

I have never either. I get the concept, but not a big, sports goer myself.

For our readers, we know we’ve never been, but we understand that there’s a lot of food and drinking, usually alcohol involved. We know that. The idea is that people are partying before the actual game starts and then maybe after the game starts as well. What do you feel is the most difficult thing to navigate during a tailgating party?

One is alcohol. There are lots of ways to get around that, but most of the people who clicking on this and reading are already see tailgating and they’re like, “What do I do here?” You mentioned alcohol. It is obviously going to be a big factor. The other thing that not worries me, but gets my brain moving is most of that food is going to be the quick options, the quick snacks, chips, and the things that you’re buying prepackaged from the store.

They’re ready to go unless you have this crazy setup out of the bed of your truck with a smoker, a barbecue and all other things. A lot of it is going to be processed food. My thought is how do we get away from that and have other options that as easy and fast, but also more in line with your plan, diet, or healthy in general? Stand away from the Pringles and chips.

That’s the important thing because whenever I think of some kind of party, I tend to go to things like a seven-layer dip. That’s the exact opposite of what we’re trying to do. We need help.

That seven-layer dip is going to pack some calories.

It’s like you could take a little tiny square and you’re done, but it’s so good. What exactly do people need to do if they want to have a good day, but they want to stay basically on plan whatever their plan looks like for MetPro during the party?

I probably sound like a broken record and if my clients are reading this, they’re like, “I already know what he’s going to say,” which is the lead-up. Leading up to it is the most important. I’ve said this on the past show about parties, but it’s no different. I stress this to all of my clients or anybody in general. When you go into something hungry, bad things are bound to happen. That’s because that blood sugar drops and it’s counterintuitive. We think, “I’m going to go tailgate before this game. There’s going to be beer, drinks and a bunch of snacks. I’m just going to skip my snack and my lunch maybe, or even the whole day. I’m not going to eat leading up into that because I know it’s going to be calorically dense.”

That’s where you get into your first set of problems, portion size and control go through the roof because you’re hungry. Your blood sugar drops and your body’s response is, “Feed me.” Especially if you’ve been a MetPro client, and you’re used to eating five times a day, that contrast of going from breakfast, snack, lunch, snack dinner, to all of a sudden we’re skipping meals, and then going to this event, party or whatever it is, that’s where things go South.

The first step is to eat on-plan all day long. Even if you know you’re going to go overboard and your caloric density is going to be through the roof, there’s going to be alcohol, eat your breakfast and your snack. Maybe it’s a midday thing. You might be having lunch at that tailgate party, event or whatever you’re doing. Eat on plan leading up to that. You’re going to be less hungry. Your stomach is going to be full. You’re not going to go over portion sizes. At some point, your stomach is going to say, “That’s enough. I’m good.” That’s the main thing. The next one is getting yourself more options while you’re there.

How do we get more options? Do you mean bring your own or something else?

Bring your own, sure. You can have alternate options, but bring things to share. It doesn’t have to be the processed junk foods that are easy to grab. A few of the snack things that came to mind were a veggie platter with a good Greek yogurt dill dip with some garlic and lemon juice in there. You can make it yourself. I make it all the time. It’s great. It’s a light thing that’s going to have a little bit of carbs and protein. Veggies are super low in calories and they’re filling. Your mouth is busy. You’re chewing these raw veggies and that’s going to make that feel a little bit better.

I think there’s a psychological component there because if you go to one of these things and you don’t have something to eat, you feel left out or ostracized because like, “I have my diet,” then people are like, “Why are you dieting?” They think that they need to weigh in on how you look, how you don’t look, and what your goals should be or what they shouldn’t be. You have all of that, but if you bring something and you’re munching on it, now you feel like you’re part of the party. You’re still being social. That’s an important aspect of it too.

To play off of what you said, it is not just bringing something for yourself. Bringing something that fits your plan, but to share that.

That tastes yummy.

You would be surprised how many people end up reaching for that type of thing. Maybe later. Maybe they fill up on the bad stuff first and they go, “That veggie plate is looking good.” You’d be surprised when it’s there, people are going to participate in that. You don’t feel like the oddball out versus if you just pack your little snacks and items for you, even though you’re eating and drinking with everyone, you can still feel a little ostracized and outside of the group. The veggie platter is great. I know that’s not like tailgating food, I get it. A good mixed bowl of fruit is great. Put that in a cooler. You can prep it beforehand. Put it in the back of the truck, car or wherever you’re taking it. That’s a great sweet, cold item that can crave those like sweet tooths that you’re getting.

To me, if this is a big day for you and you want to maybe celebrate a little, you don’t want to go completely off plan, you could even go a little outside of your normal lines by using some kind of like a fat-free cool whip to put on top of it. A little bit of indulgence, but not crazy.

Those would be great things to share, snack options. Another one that I didn’t make wasn’t tailgating but at a friend’s house. This was a great appetizer. Chicken salad in little lettuce boat wraps. It is easy to make and prep. Throw the chicken salad in the cooler with your romaine lettuce boats or whatever. That was a great appetizer that didn’t make me feel like, “I shouldn’t be eating this.”

It is something you can share easily and eat with your hands. I like that. What a great idea.

There are so many easy, fast and healthy items that are still finger foods. You still feel like you’re participating or partying. Those can be good things.

As far as partying goes, how do we handle the alcohol?

It’s a part of those events. It’s the culture surrounding it. You can have all the willpower you want and hats off to you. Maybe you go into that and say, “I can do this and not drink.” I have clients do that all the time. This is missed a lot too. We say, “Don’t.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a client come back from a concert. He goes to a Kenny Chesney concert. We didn’t set any parameters. The next day he was excited and texted me. He said, “My weight dropped 1.5. I didn’t have any alcohol. I feel great this morning.”

There is something to be said about how good you feel when you stay on plan. I don’t like to call foods good or bad, but it’s how it makes you feel. When we eat on plan, it does make us feel better.

I enjoyed that text because it flipped a mindset, rather than the conversation being, “Don’t drink.” We’re children at heart. When someone tells us, “Don’t do something,” at least me, I’m like, “I want to do that.” It was powerful for him knowing like, “I went into this with no expectations.” He didn’t say he was or wasn’t going to drink. He knew he was going to keep it under control, but he took a big thing away from that, which was, “I can go do this without having alcohol. I can feel good the next morning.” The benefits far outweigh what I could have had that night.

That’s a win right there.

A lot of that is missed. We need to remember how good we feel and how empowering that is too, having that willpower of saying no and waking up feeling great is a phenomenal thing. That’s 1/2 of the people or maybe 1/4. Now we get to, if you’re going to have alcohol what are your best bets going to be? My go-to’s are anything that’s going to be lower in calories. We can start there. Clear liquors are going to be a lot better. You’ve got tequila, vodka or gin.

You could throw whiskey in there, but it’s a little bit higher glycemic load. We can start with the hard liquors. Throw a little citrus juice in those and mix them in sparkling water. Those can be great cold beverages, and they’re not going to completely ruin you, versus the heavy Sierra Nevada, Pals or some IPA. Those are going to stack a lot of carbs and calories, and they are very filling. Stay away from those. When it comes to the beer, the low-calorie beers and seltzers are happening.

White Claw and things like that, as an examples.

Most of those lie between like 90 to 100 calories per seltzer. They are lower in alcohol, which is great because less of impact on digestive upset and inflammation. We have to take that into account as well. Even some beers. Corona Premier makes a very low-carb beer and there are multiple others that I’m seeing Flyjack and IPA are low-calorie ones. It’s under 100 calories per beer, light beers, but they’re going to be a much better option than the heavier stuff. Stay away from fruity cocktails, anything dense in fruit juice, then obviously, super heavy beers, IPAs, Pals and things like that.

I had a client ask me why they couldn’t have fruity cocktails. I’m wondering if that might be confusing to other people as well. I know that there’s sugar involved whenever it’s a mixture, but is there anything that you think that people might not realize about fruit juices themselves? For example, if there’s a mixed drink made with cranberry juice. That might seem like it’s not so bad on the surface.

That’s one of my favorite conversations. If you were going to sit down and I said, “I want you to eat. Here is a whole table full of oranges. Eat as many as you’d like.” How many are you going to eat?

Probably one.

Maybe two good solid oranges. If you knew the amount of oranges it takes for an 8-ounce glass of condensed orange juice, it is about 12 to 15 oranges. You’re consuming all of the sugars and calories from that many oranges. That’s what concerns me with fruit juice. You use cranberry juice. What a great mixture to go in some vodka or even gin. That could be a great drink. I was introduced to Crown with cranberry a long time ago, which is a good drink.

If you wonder how many cranberries does it take to make that juice versus how many you could eat in a sitting if you had free range? Those are going to be vastly different quantities that concern me with the fruit juice, is you’re getting all of those calories and sugar from that juice. If you were to eat it, you’re going to eat and consume far less than you would if it’s in juice.

That is an excellent point. It is very well explained. I’ll just tuck that away for my future conversations.

It opens your mind. It makes you think about it. It’s like, “That is a lot.”

We always talk about how that blood sugar spikes. If you’re having all the sugar from 10 to 12 oranges at one time, that’s a big old spike.

We talk about a spike and blood sugar then insulin, and then you get the crash coming down from it. You’re tired. Nobody wants that.

You’re not going to be very much fun at the party after that. We know the fruity ones mixed with fruit juices. We know to stay away from like fruit cocktails in general. Go with your stronger, clear liquids liquors, and then lighter beers as opposed to the heavier beers. Are there any other alcohol tips that people might want to consider?

There’s one more, which is to circle back on not all fruit is created equal. I’m separating out the citrus. If I’m going to have a cocktail, citrus is by far one of my favorite flavoring components. Your lime juice, lemon juice, and fresh grapefruit juice, if you’re to squeeze it and get that out yourself. Those are going to be a lot less dense in calories and glycemic load. They can pack a punch with flavor, 1/2 to 1 ounce of lime or grapefruit juice and cocktail. You’re going to taste that. The flavors are going to come through versus something like cranberry juice. You put 1 ounce in there. You’re not getting that flavoring. It’s not the same, it’s way denser with sugar. Citruses are another one.

I’ll share something my girlfriend has done from time to time. Those Crystal Light lemonade packets, the last time we went camping, she made an Arnold Palmer with one of those. I didn’t even think of it. She was using that. I was like, “What are you doing?” She’s making a little Arnold Palmer cocktail with 10 calories and she only uses half tea and a little bit of the lemonade packet. She’s got her vodka in there, filled it up with a little bit of water, and she’s got herself a low-calorie Arnold Palmer. Whereas if you’re going to buy like a can of that spiked Arnold Palmer, those are going to be north of 220 to 230 calories and way dense on sugar. I know there are a lot of items like drink flavorings that you can put in. Don’t throw those out because those can be great for cocktail mixes. Get creative with it.

When you talk about the juices to add, like lemon juice, let’s say, is it on par? Is it the same to like squeeze lemon in versus buying a bottle of lemon juice at the grocery store?

I believe so. I have lime and lemon juice on hand all the time. I use them in cooking as well. When I look on the back, 1 tablespoon says 5 calories. They’re going to be pretty on par with it. It’s down to convenience at that point. Maybe you have lemon or lime trees in your backyard. If you have access to fresh fruit, obviously that’s a good route to go.

That’s a foreign concept here in Missouri. We do not have lemon or lime trees in our backyards.

Convenience would go to on that. I know for sure that the lime and lemon juice, I look at the back of those and look at the nutrition label. Those are very low calorie and low sugar. It’s pure condensed lemon and lime juice

Those are all excellent ideas, by the way, I use the Crystal Light with other things too. I have my rum and diet Coke. I like to put Cherry Crystal Light in there.

Is that like Roy Rogers or what’s the alcoholic version of that?

I call it a cherry bomb. That’s just something I made up because it tastes like this intense cherry drink, but you also have the alcohol aspect of it in it. It takes it from a boring drink to something that you can drink and you feel like you’re in the tropic somewhere. I have to be transported with my alcohol. I can’t have the little umbrella drinks whenever I’m somewhere fun. I have to make my own, so I bring my Crystal Light with me. Is there anything that we haven’t covered that you want to make sure people know before they attend a tailgate party?

The last one is probably a meal if it were to happen. I do think that’s worth discussing because although neither of us has been tailgating per se. We understand the concept, and the ideas and see lots of people bring barbecues. I would be set up great to go tailgating. I have a mini green mountain grill smoker that floods into my truck. I know so many people have those types of setups. I have done one of these. If meals are to happen, great tailgate food and I had to look this up, especially if you’re in like a colder place is chili.

It didn’t come to mind living in California. We’re not dealing with cold weather, but I would imagine chili, what a great food if you’re going to have a warm meal if it’s cold out. Those are easy things that you can throw into a crockpot. Most of them nowadays can plug into vehicles. They plug into trucks. They have adapters that can plug into your 12-volt. You can have that ready to go. For reference, we have three different chili recipes on our MetPro website. Go to and look at all of the chili recipes. Those can be a great meal to stay on plan and share with others too.

It checks all the boxes. You’re sharing your meal, having something fun, and still able to have something that’s warm if it’s cold outside. Ryan, thank you so much for your time. Readers, that is all for this episode. You can find all the episodes anywhere you get the show, or you can go to Please be sure to follow the show, rate and review. That lets other people know what they can expect. You can also learn more about MetPro at I’ll be back. Until then, remember consistency is key.

Done with Dieting with MetPro

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