HOUSTON – Summer means barbecues, and that means plenty of burgers, cake, ice cream, pasta and salad.
While many people try to make good food choices, but nutritionists warned that sugar that is hiding in those foods can still pack on the pounds.
"We go into a coffee shop and grab a bagel,” said food journalist Kelly Choi. “We see whole wheat bagel. We're thinking we're doing something good for our bodies, but it turns out that eating that bagel has the same hidden sugar effect as consuming 7.5 teaspoons of sugar."
Choi said high amounts of sugar in our bodies at any given time can contribute to inflammation, obesity and diabetes.
Some of the favorite foods at barbecues include sneaky sugars.
For example, a tablespoon of ketchup has a teaspoon of sugar in it. Two tablespoons of Thousand Island dressing includes three teaspoons of sugar. Hot dog and hamburger buns come along with roughly 12 teaspoons of sugar.
So, how do people avoid that extra sugar?
Choi recommended people skip the barbecue sauce, the cake and high-calorie drinks.
"Rather than reaching for pretzels, for example, that has that hidden sugar effect, grab an Atkins bar,” Choi said. “Grab some hard boiled eggs. Grab some nuts."
Choi said the key is to find a balance of protein and health fats.
"Having that hamburger in, say, a lettuce wrap,” Choi said. “It'll give you some crunch, some texture. Toppings, you can really go really deliciously there with sautéed mushrooms, some cheese and jalapenos for a kick. This is also a great time to really load up on those carbohydrates that are rich in fiber -- your vegetables, your grilled vegetables."
With just a few adjustments at a cookout, people can avoid those hidden sugars and keep off the unwanted weight.
NBC News contributed to this report.