Grilling and Gout: Keep your purine levels low all summer long

There are few things more pleasant than spending a summer evening enjoying a steak, chicken breast, a few beers and some good company. Grilling outdoors is one of life’s pleasures, and if you have been on a diet, the temptation to treat yourself to some hearty food and drink can be particularly strong. If you suffer from gout, however, the consequences of over-eating and drinking can be very serious indeed.


Gout off the grill

Gout can develop after a meal from the grill because of the volume of food and drink we usually consume; at social gatherings, we tend to eat significantly more than we would at home. A rough guideline is that for every person present, we eat up to 10 % more food than normal. A meal off the grill usually involves two servings of food, perhaps two to three beers and then dessert. You might even include a glass or two of whiskey to top it off. So over the course of several several hours, we might consume a very large portion of food and do so faster than expected if eating the same amount at home.

Here’s what a typical meal off the grill might consist of:

• 10 oz steak (~285 g)
• 2 pieces of chicken
• 1/2 rack of spare ribs (BBQ style)
• 3.5 oz grilled vegetables (~100 g)
• 32 oz beer (~1 litre)
• 1.5 fl oz whiskey (~41 ml)

We entered this menu into our OxiPur app to calculate how many purines are consumed in a typical meal off the grill, and the results are quite shocking. The above list amounts to over half a kilo of meat, almost 50 g of pure alcohol and a significant amount of salt, as well as over 1000 mg of uric acid, the build-up of which causes gout. This value far exceeds the maximum recommended amount per food serving. Furthermore, be mindful that if the meat has been marinated, the salt content could be even higher.

Figure 1: Purine content of a typical grill menu [source: OxiPur].

The combination of several factors (extremely high purine intake, alcohol, and salt) that hinder excretion means we run the risk of heavily burdening our bodies with uric acid and potentially suffering an inflammation of gout. Both of these occur particularly frequently after over-eating.

How can you prevent a gout attack after a barbecue?

The best way to avoid the onset of gout when eating off the grill is undoubtedly to consider in advance what you will eat, and set limits so that you know when to stop.

When it comes to meat or fish, do not eat more than you intended; you can invest in good quality meat to compensate for eating less. Additionally, avoid marinated products and instead season food yourself in order to limit your salt intake.

Some might think that only meat belongs on the grill, and not vegetables, but this is a naïve view. When grilling vegetables, there are no limits to creativity and almost anything is possible, so take the time to prepare a few tasty vegetarian dishes. Focusing on vegetarian options and salad is by no means unbecoming when it comes to an evening meal off the grill.

Drinks are a more difficult matter, since both beer and soft drinks can contribute to a flare-up of gout, but here you can also get creative: instead of buying soft drinks, try making a homemade lemonade that will contain far less sugar.


Grilling is an excellent way to cook very healthy dishes that appeal to everyone, but some sacrifices should be considered if you are prone to suffering gout. Do your research and check the purine content what you’ll be eating in advance, so you can enjoy good food and drink without having to worry about the consequences later.

Why do we care so much about this topic?

We have been developing our "OxiPur" app about gout and oxalates for many years and are happy to share our knowledge with you. Check it out:

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