When the warm weather kicks in, we are drawn to the patio for some rest, relaxation, and maybe a few cold beverages and warm appetizers.

The key is to be flexible and remember that everything is healthy is moderation. Summer is meant to be enjoyed and spent with friends and family doing the things you love. Skipping a patio night with your friends for the gym could do more harm than good. Remember, eating or drinking outside your usual diet for a short period of time will not make or break your fitness goals.  But it doesn't hurt to have a plan.

Try these tips on your next patio day, or even all summer long, to keep you on track while still enjoying summertime fun.  

Limit your alcohol consumption  

Patio beverages may include a few cocktails or IPAs, but that can come at a cost. Alcohol is filled with liquid calories and added sugars that can spike your blood sugar leading to cravings and dehydration.  

This is not to say that you need to cut out all alcohol, rather opt for something with less sugar like a vodka soda or add some soda to your wine, and be sure to rotate with water.  

Fill up on protein 

Summer is meant to be enjoyed with friends at BBQs and on patios. The key is not to avoid the things you love, but to come prepared. If you know you are going to be around a lot of food that might not align with your fitness goals, have a protein shake or a protein-based snack beforehand. This will help keep your hunger at bay and make it less likely that you'll overdo it with indulgences.

Stay active

Staying active is a great way to remain on track with your fitness goals. There is no way to out-work a bad diet, and exercising should not be viewed as a punishment for what you ate. Staying active is important to keep your blood flowing, get your heart-rate up and stay on track with your fitness goals.  So get moving!

Drink plenty of water  

This will come as no surprise. Drinking 2-4 liters of water daily is important year-round, but is vital during patio season when you might be eating different, perhaps saltier, foods than you’re used to. The heat can also lead to dehydration.  

Drinking water will help flush out excess sodium in your body from a salty meal. It will also work to combat water retention from the heat and any alcoholic beverages you may have enjoyed.

Plan ahead and stick to the fresh stuff

Most restaurants have their menu and nutritional info available online. Choose your order beforehand and see if there are any substitutions that could make it fit better into your plan.

Sticking to the fresh stuff is a safe bet when it comes to restaurant food and can help you stay on track with your goals. Don’t be afraid to make modifications like asking for dressing on the side or not cooked in oil, your body will thank you.