Low-Calorie Cocktails (cont.)
So how do you keep those calories in alcoholic drinks from adding up so quickly? Here are five tips from the experts.
1. Alternate alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks to save calories. The savvy dieter finishes one cocktail, glass of wine or beer, then has a "mocktail" -- a nonalcoholic, preferably zero-calorie beverage (like sparkling water with a lime) that looks like the real thing. This strategy not only reduces the risk of over-consuming calories and alcohol, but it also helps you stay hydrated so your head will thank you in the morning!
"It is a good idea to start the evening with a tall glass of water or sparkling water to satisfy your thirst so you won't use the alcoholic beverage to do it for you," adds Gerbstadt.
2. Choose wine, light beer, or simple cocktails made with low-calorie mixers. Just as you might order your salad with dressing on the side, don't be shy about asking for your cocktail your way.
"You can save 100 calories if you have a diet soda as your mixer," says American Dietetic Association spokesperson Dawn Blatner-Jackson, MS, RD.
Mix cocktails with water, club soda, low calorie juices, artificial sweeteners or sugar-free syrups for easy calorie savings. Fruit and vegetable juices can be good choices because they are lower in calories than some other mixers and also contain disease-preventing antioxidants. Still, "be careful of fruit juices because even though they are more nutritious, the calories can add up quickly," says Blatner-Jackson.
Some mixers that won't pack on the pounds include:
3. Skip the mixer altogether. Try ordering your favorite spirit or one of the new flavored liquors on the rocks. "Infused vodkas are very popular because they are not sweetened but infused with flavors, from jalapeño to peach, without adding any extra calories," says O'Neil.
4. Dilute your drink. Another option is diluting your drink with club soda or sparkling water. Wine spritzers are a low-calorie standby. And if you usually drink vodka and cranberry, for example, try it with club soda, just a splash of cranberry juice, and a squeeze of lime. Garnish with a wedge of citrus or pineapple to add flavor and few calories.
5. Have a game plan. Before heading out to the cocktail party or happy hour, make sure you have a game plan. Decide in advance the number of cocktails you are going to drink and cut back on calories during the day in anticipation. But eat a light snack before you go so you won't get tipsy with the first drink and it will be less tempted to dive into the food. Always be aware of your own personal limits. Don't drink too much, and, of course, don't drink and drive.
How Many Calories in Popular Cocktails?
So just how many calories are in your favorite cocktail? These calorie counts for popular alcoholic drinks are approximate, based on popular recipes, but may vary depending on ingredients and portions.
Medically Reviewed December 17, 2007.
SOURCES: Carolyn O'Neil, MS, RD, co-author, The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous. Christine Gerbstadt, MD, MPH, RD, spokeswoman, American Dietetic Association. Dawn Blatner-Jackson, MS, RD, spokeswoman, American Dietetic Association. 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. American Heart Association. Calorieking.com.
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