Your Game Day Snacking Plan

Enjoy the big game and your favorite bites that come with it—with a few smart tweaks.

friends eating popcorn and watching TV

Updated on July 28, 2023.

Whether your sport of choice is baseball, soccer, football, or basketball, there’s nothing quite like watching the big game on TV. And when friends and loved ones gather, there’s sure to be plenty to eat and drink.

But while the TV screen displays feats of athleticism, game day eats and drinks tend to be, well, less than healthy.

It doesn’t need to be that way. You can still have a great time watching the game and enjoying some of your favorite snacks without taking in excessive amounts of sodium, sugar, fat, and calories.

Here’s a play-by-play from nutrition and fitness experts:

First down: Beverages

An ice-cold beer can be a refreshing way to cut the heat of a plate of spicy wings. But according to fitness expert Mike Clark, DPT, regularly consuming alcohol can interfere with efforts to maintain a healthy weight (not to mention potentially harming your well-being in other ways).

For one thing, alcoholic drinks—particularly those that contain add-ins and mixers—contain a lot of extra calories. And when we drink, we tend to eat. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, making it easier to say “yes” to a side of fries with those hot wings.

If you must have a drink, consider having a lower-calorie light beer in place of regular beer, and skip the margaritas, which can be loaded with added sugar. To further cut calories, try this simple tip from registered dietitian Keri Gans: Alternate each alcoholic beverage with a glass of water to help slow down your drinking.

It’s easy to want to indulge while watching the big game, but drinking comes with other health downsides aside from the calories. So it’s smart to stick to a moderate intake. That means no more than two alcoholic drinks per day for men and one for women.

Better still, plenty of craft breweries are now producing tasty and satisfying non-alcoholic brews, which can give you the flavor of beer with fewer of the downsides.

Second down: Food

Even when you load a plate from the snack buffet, you can still cut back on game-day calories. Here’s how:

Chips and fries: Instead of conventional deep-fried French fries or potato chips, consider swapping in baked fries or chips. This simple swap can save about 150 calories per serving.

Want a bigger nutrition boost with your crispy snack? Make your own baked kale chips. Air-popped popcorn is another great choice.

Pizza: If you need that cheesy, crunchy experience, shop for healthy frozen pizza before the game. Be sure to check the label and look for brands with lower amounts of saturated fat and calories.

Another tip: Whether it’s frozen or take-out, choose thin-crust pizza topped with vegetables. Many brands now also offer cauliflower-based crusts, which provide extra vitamins and fiber and fewer refined carbohydrates. If you want a hit of protein, add chicken rather than sausage or pepperoni, which are high in saturated fat.

Buffalo wings: Instead of deep-fried wings, which are high in saturated fat, try cornmeal-crusted boneless baked wings. Pair those with a light blue cheese dip or yogurt dip to save additional calories. If fried chicken is your game, you can have the flavor without the extra fat with this oven “fried” chicken recipe.

Portion control: By using a 10-inch plate instead of a 12-inch plate, you can reduce calorie intake by as much as 22 percent, according to registered dietitian Kate Geagan, MS, RD.

One simple way to guarantee you’ll have a lower-calorie and lower-fat bite is to bring veggies and store-bought yogurt dip or hummus and work them into the snack rotation.

Third down: Exercise

Take inspiration from the pros and work some exercise into your game day gathering. If the weather is fine, step outside during halftime to toss or kick the ball around, shoot hoops, or even have a 15-minute scrimmage with your friends.

There’s also plenty of time to move around during the game. Hit the floor for planks or push-ups during commercials. Even doing something fun like dancing with each goal or touchdown scored can burn three to six times more calories than sitting.


With these strategies, you can still enjoy the game, savor a range of flavors while managing your calorie intake, and work some movement into the game.

More On

Evergreen machine smoothie


Evergreen machine smoothie
This Evergreen Machine smoothie is a healthy way to start your day and could help you avoid common migraine triggers.
You Won’t Believe It’s Kale Salad


You Won’t Believe It’s Kale Salad
Savory, sweet and crunchy—what more could you want from a salad?
6 Surprising Ways Your Diet Hurts Your Health


6 Surprising Ways Your Diet Hurts Your Health
An unhealthy diet can do a lot more than pack on the pounds.
Is gluten-free bread better for you than regular bread?


Is gluten-free bread better for you than regular bread?
According to research, gluten-free bread isn't necessarily a healthier option. However, If you have a wheat allergy or celiac disease you should swit...
7 brain foods to include in your diet


7 brain foods to include in your diet
Want to keep your brain working well and help ease depression and anxiety? Experts recommend feeding your brain while feeding your body to help you he...