Table spread with appetizer trays for the footbal party.  Horizontal view over white background.

The Big Game Party: 6 Tips to Defend Against Too Many Calories

ATLANTA (January 14, 2015) — On Super Bowl weekend, living rooms, basements and kitchens could be filled by 62 million football fans gathering to watch the Big Game, according to the most recent data from the National Retail Federation. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) also notes the bowl game day as the second biggest food day for Americans, right behind Thanksgiving. To help fans avoid the penalties that can come with a 2,400 calorie football party feast, the Calorie Control Council (CCC) took a look at a sample party spread and offered pre-game tips make better nutritional decisions while celebrating.

The Big Game Party binge

In the past, the Calorie Control Council reported on a 1,200 calorie snack menu (potato chips, tortilla chips, pretzels, popcorn, nuts). This year, the Council looked at a heavier food spread. A relatively modest consumption of foods and beverages in a game day party menu, including pizza, chicken wings, potato chips, beef nachos and beer or sodas, adds up to more than 2,400 calories and 121 g of fat according to the USDA National Nutrient Database — more than most should eat in a single day. The Council’s list of popular items on the menu, with calories and fat gram counts, is located below. Regardless of the menu, Americans can cut the calories on game day by eating healthier. (*Foods and beverages named in a recent NPD Group survey)

Pepperoni Pizza
2 slices
24.3 g
Regular Beer
3 cans (12 oz.)
0 g
Sodas (regular, not diet)
3 cans (12 oz.)
0 g
Tortilla Chips
3 servings (11-13 chips/svg.)
18.3 g
Potato Chips
3 servings (11-13 chips/svg.)
31.9 g
Cheese Dip
¼ cup
5.5 g
Seven Layer Dip
¼ cup
4 g
Fried Hot Wings w/Bleu Cheese Dip
6 wings
40 g
Pigs in a Blanket
40 g
Beef Nachos
1 serving
25 g
BBQ Sandwiches
1 regular sandwich
16 g
12 g
Veggie Tray
4 celery sticks w/ranch dip
7 g
Brownies or Cake
2 brownies (4” square)
30 g
1 cupcake
9 g

Defending Against Calories

The CCC recommends pre-planning your game day menu to include lower calorie appetizers and beverages. When it comes to recipes, it is possible to cut the calories without cutting the flavor. Football fans can check out The Skinny on Low Cal’s game day menu ideas to find a list of low-calorie recipes perfect for your party as well as the Calorie Control Council’s lower calorie recipes.

Sylvia P. Poulos, Ph.D. and registered dietitian with the Calorie Control Council, recommends the following tips:

1. Alternate between beer/soda and water or diet drinks with zero calories to cut the calories consumed from beverages in half.
2. Hit the veggie tray first and fill up on those before considering the other offerings.
3. Minimize your mindless munching. Limit your eating while watching the game and make it your goal to chat with each person at the party.
4. Acknowledge that while there is a lot of food, you don’t have to try all of it.
5. Volunteer to bring low-calorie dishes and diet soda instead of the full calorie options.
6. Hopefully you’re getting some exercise in most days of the week, but be sure to work out on game day and the next to mitigate the party damage. Remember that even a walk counts as physical activity.

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