It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere!
The Do’s and Don’ts of Skinny Jeans Drinking
A lot of my dieters have been asking me what is the BEST alcohol to drink as summer partying is in full swing. So, I’ll try to make this quick….
Wine Is Better than Beer, Beer Is Better than Mixed Drinks: Sometimes True Except When It’s Not!
There are no hard-and-fast rules across alcohol categories; the total calorie count can vary considerably depending on what goes into your drink-of-choice. Let’s say you’re just having one drink. Generally speaking, a serving of wine has fewer calories than a serving of beer, which in turn has fewer calories than a serving of many mixed drinks. Naturally, that’s far too easy, and as such, is not always true.
Let’s break it down by type:
Note: For brevity, I’m focusing on calories and skipping talk about carbs and other dietary aspects of drinks. As everyone knows, for example, beer has a lot of carbs. Most wines and liquors are low-carb affairs.
The Easiest Choices: Wine or Liquor
If you want to make the choice as simple as possible, go with wine or liquor. Note that I said liquor, not mixed drinks. Those mixers, sodas and syrups can pile on calories to a 1.5 ounce distilled spirit that starts with just under 100 calories.
So, if calories are a concern and you’re a lover of the liquor on its own, consider ordering it neat or on the rocks and skipping the mixer altogether. A 1.5-ounce serving of vodka, gin, whiskey, rum, tequila, etc. packs a roughly 100-calorie punch. Not bad.
A 5-ounce serving of wine (red, white, cab, grigio) will likewise pack in about 100 calories.
Beer: It Can Cost You
So then there’s beer. Again, these numbers will vary depending on the beer your order (and the size of the glass). “Light” beers can range 90-100 calories per 12-ounce serving, with some regular beers topping out at around 300 calories.
Generally speaking, “light” beer has fewer calories than a traditional lager, which has fewer calories than an ale. For most beer lovers, that basically means flavor is directly proportional to calories. Want more flavor? Prepare for a higher calorie drink.
Mixed Drinks: Know Your Ingredients
Mixed drinks have the highest potential for going calorically astronomical. As discussed above, you’re normally starting with a base of about 100 calories for your liquor. Once you start adding mixers, you’ve got to add your mixer to the count—and most mixers add up fast. A 6-ounce pina colada is about 380 calories (more than pretty much any serving of beer, wine, or straight liquor). An 8-ounce mojito is 214 calories (more calories than a serving of wine, more than some beers, less than a 1.5-ounce serving of your favorite liquor). Fruit juices contain lots of sugar, too. A splash for flavor is okay, but half a cup will add 60 calories to your drink.
Drink Like This
You don’t want pull out your calorie tracker next time you saddle up to the bar, so with all that out of the way, you’d probably still like some more specific directions. So let’s break it down:
- Drink wine. It’s low in calories.
- Drink liquor. By itself. It’s low in calories.
- If you can’t do without your mixed drinks, consider diet tonic, sodas, juices, etc, opt for low calorie mixers (Crystal Light, diet soda, diet tonic)
- If diet mixers aren’t an option, most martinis are low on calories (apart from the obvious, like chocolate martinis)
- Gin and tonic is not bad (around 200 calories), but the tonic can add up fast.
- Light beer is healthier than your favorite pale ale. Shocker!
- Go for champagne or a wine spritzer (120 calories per 12 ounces)
- I am not really a drinker myself. I make poor food choices with a blurry head. But, if you like your liquor, here’s the deal. Once you have more than two drinks, you’re already in “diet disinhibiting” territory. If it’s a simple social gathering and not a wild night out, the best thing will be to cut yourself off after a couple.
- Try switching between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks throughout the night. Sparkling water with a squeeze of citrus can be refreshing, and it has the added benefit of not looking like a buzz kill. I even get mine in a wine glass!