By Jennie Cullinane
My roommate and I are currently attempting to drastically overhaul our eating habits. Subbing tortilla chips for baby carrots and bulking up our egg-white omelets with raw vegetables and fat-free cheese, together we are making very direct efforts to clean up our diets and eat “clean.” So far, we have been very successful. Done with midnight calzones and Sunday-morning chocolate chip muffins, we’ve been eating right and losing weight.
But there is one unhealthy component of our diets that we just can’t seem to shake: alcohol. Talking the other night, we both agreed that we would lose so much weight if only we could eliminate booze from our diets. Full of empty calories and high in sugar, alcohol is not only fattening in itself but also leads to fattening decisions. After a night of party-hopping and six mixed drinks, a plate of nachos or 3 slices of pizza just sounds so amazing. And because alcohol just makes it so hard to say “no,” you usually wind up making some diet decisions that you will regret in the morning.
When dieting, it is obviously best to just abstain from alcohol all together. But if you lead a lifestyle that makes such a transition pretty impossible, then you need to learn the ways to booze right.
Light beer is an obvious choice for dieters when deciding how best to drink alcohol without ruining their nutrition plan. Low in calories and contained in pre-portioned bottles, a light beer is a viable option for people attempting to cut calories without sacrificing the indulgence of a cold glass of beer. However, beware that light beers contain less alcohol per volume that heavier beers, which means that you will drink more of them before feeling a buzz. Drinking five or six light beers in a night quickly adds up to six-hundred calories, so for some drinkers ordering two non-light beers with a higher alcohol content may be a more attractive option.
The Best Light Beers
Bud Select 55: 55 calories, 1.9 carbs
Beck’s Light: 64 calories, 3.9 carbs
Amstel Light: 95 calories, 5 grams of carbs
Miller Light: 96 calories, 3.2 carbs
Budwesier Select: 99 calories, 3.1 carbs
Coors Light: 102 calories, 5 g carbs
Wine has a distinguished reputation among alcohols. With only 100 calories per glass, it is nutritionally reasonable and can also help lower the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and stroke when consumed in moderation. But be aware: one glass does not mean you can fill the glass to the brim. One glass of wine equals 5 ounces, about one third of your typical wine glass. Portion control is key when drinking wine. Both red and white wines pack about twenty calories per ounce, but red wines are more effective in lowering cholesterol and hypertension.
Many people will opt for hard alcohol when dieting. Unlike wine and beer, hard alcohol does not contain fat or sugar and, at about 100 calories per shot, poses as an attractive option for dieters. However, unless taken as shots, hard alcohol is often mixed with high-calorie, sugary beverages that will pack on the pounds. When drinking hard alcohol, choose low-calorie mixers like diet sodas or sugar free juices to avoid these unnecessary calories. Another trick to avoid the calories of a mixer: load your drink with ice. Ice can work as a zero-calorie bulk to your drink and the added H20 can cut back on tomorrow’s hangover.
When selecting a hard alcohol, try to avoid the flavored varieties. As delicious as a shot of of Smirnoff Raspberry can be, it is loaded with sugar and has nearly double the calorie count of unflavored vodka. To further turn you off from flavored alcohol, remember that flavored alcohols have a lower alcohol content than unflavored varieties. It will take more of these higher calorie and sugar-packed types of alcohol to get your buzz on, and by the end of the night you might end up having consumed twice the number of calories than if you had just stuck with the unflavored.
Hard Alcohol: By the Numbers
Vodka: 70 calories per shot
Spiced Rum (i. e. Captain Morgan’s): 90 calories per shot
Clear Rum (i .e. Bacardi): 105 calories per shot
Gin: 116 calories per shot
Tequila: 120 calories per shot
In the end, just remember to drink smart. Everything is okay in moderation – even on a diet. So don’t binge on a bottle of wine or a handle of Rubinoff. Not only will you wake up with a nasty hangover and hazy memories of some poor life decisions, but you’ll ruin your diet. And who wants that?