Staying fit while celebrating summer parties is 100% possible. (Photo: Thomas Barwick/Stone/Getty Images)
If you’re serious about losing weight or maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you may think you have to go into “strict diet mode” and cut out alcohol completely. So, you reluctantly trade happy hours for nights in front of the TV. After all, it’s the only surefire way to drop pounds, right? Wrong. “If you enjoy social drinking, there’s no reason to abstain from alcohol just because you are on a diet,” says registered dietician Tanya Zuckerbrot, M.S., RD, and creator of the best-selling “The F-Factor Diet.” “In fact, depriving yourself can set you back far more than a glass of wine ever could.” So if you want to grab a drink, go for it. Here are 7 ways you can imbibe without derailing your diet.
1. Keep Your Cocktails Simple
Ditch drinks with multiple liquors or high-calorie mixers. A Long Island Iced Tea has a whopping 280 calories and 33 grams of carbs and a Cosmopolitan has 260 calories and 16 grams of carbs. Instead, opt for a vodka and soda (or a lower-calorie vodka) with a splash of grapefruit or cranberry juice, which has only about 100 calories and two grams of carbs.
Or order tequila on the rocks with lime, which has 96 calories and no carbs. If you prefer something sweeter – minus the extra calories – vanilla vodka with Sprite Zero, which has 92 calories and one gram of carbs, just might do the trick.
2. Avoid Regular Margaritas
Sure, they evoke images of lounging under palm trees or memories from your last birthday party at your favorite cantina, but these dangerously tasty libations pack a mighty caloric punch. Frozen or on the rocks, the average regular margarita boasts 370 to 450 calories and 20 grams of carbs per drink! Zuckerbrot suggests, “If you must order a margarita, request a skinny margarita – mixed using fresh lime juice, a little agave and a lime wedge – instead of a sugary, high-calorie margarita mix.”
3. Eat First, Then Drink
If you’re sacrificing food calories for booze calories, you may think it’s perfectly fine to skip a meal in lieu of a “liquid dinner.” Not the case. Studies have shown that drinking on an empty stomach may cause intoxication faster. If you have some food in your stomach before drinking, it will help slow alcohol absorption. Plus, it can help you avoid the “drinking munchies.” And if you know you’re going to be drinking, eat a lighter meal to balance out the calories.
4. Alternate Cocktails With H2O
If you’re going to have several drinks, to keep calories down, Zuckerbrot recommends, “simply alternate each cocktail with a glass of water or diet soda.” It also helps keep your body hydrated. And if you do drink a few, she suggests making sure you get in a good workout the next day to sweat out the toxins. Also make sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. It’s another healthy way to release the toxins that are in your body from all of the booze the night before.
5. Drink Wine…Spritzers
For those who love a bold cabernet or zesty chardonnay, here’s good news: A glass of red or white wine only contains around 125 calories. Zuckerbrot says, “Having a glass of wine with your meal won’t ruin your diet. But if you are apt to have several glasses,” she recommends, “a great way to keep the calories down is to have a wine spritzer made with half wine and half club soda, or you can substitute any calorie-free carbonated beverage.”
Related: 7 Scrumptious 3-Ingredient Snacks
“Wine does offer health benefits, so drinking wine certainly has a place in a balanced, healthy lifestyle. Antioxidants found in red wine help fight free radicals and may help prevent heart disease by increasing HDL (good cholesterol) levels. Red wine also contains resveratrol, which helps reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) and prevent blood clots,” she adds.
6. Toast to Brunch With a Bloody Mary
Kicking off the day with mimosas or Bloody Marys? Yes, please! But will they wreck your day’s worth of calories? While both have about 125 calories, a Bloody Mary – made from vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish and Tabasco – is more diet-friendly because it contains seven grams of carbohydrates.
Meanwhile, one mimosa, comprised of orange juice and champagne, contains 125 calories and 19 grams of carbohydrates. But both have some health benefits: The tomato juice in a Bloody Mary contains lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight free radicals. And the champagne in mimosas has antioxidants from the grape skins that it’s made from as well as vitamin C and potassium from the orange juice.
7. Raise a Mug of Light Beer
Beer lovers, rejoice! You, too, can stick to a healthy diet and enjoy an ice-cold brew with friends. If you’re a lager lover, ask for a low-carb beer like Michelob Ultra, containing just 2.6 grams of carbs and only 95 calories per bottle. If you’re more of a stout fan, a Guinness Draught is a worthy choice, at 126 calories and just less than 10 grams of carbs. And if you’re happiest with Belgian white ale, request a Hoegaarden, which touts a reasonable 147 calories.
The original article “How to Drink, Have Fun AND Lose Weight“ appeared on LIVESTRONG.COM.
By Michelle Spencer
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