Yes, diet-friendly cocktails do exist! However, if you’re consuming too many of the wrong ones, it’s likely you’re cancelling out your hard work and healthy eating during the week. Just one ounce of alcohol contains about 64 calories. This may not sound like a lot, but the calories add up when you combine high calorie, high sugar mixers. Let’s put this into perspective with some of today’s popular cocktail concoctions.
· Pina Colada = 280 calories per 6 oz. serving. Ingredients: light rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice.
· Margarita = 260 Calories per 8 oz. serving. Ingredients: tequila, sweet and sour mix, triple sec, and lime juice.
· Mai Tai = 192 Calories per 8 oz. serving. Ingredients: light rum, dark rum, triple sec, amaretto, simple syrup.
· Long Island Iced Tea = 165 Calories per 8 oz. serving. Ingredients: vodka, rum, gin, tequila, triple sec, sweet and sour mix, and a splash of coke.
Chances are you’re not going to have just one cocktail either. Two small margaritas at your favorite Mexican restaurant means you’ve consumed ~520 calories in drinks alone. Plus, a common side effect of consuming alcohol usually is increased hunger and a diminished will-power to eat healthy (I’m sure those late night trips to Taco Bell might sound familiar?). Additionally, the body cannot store alcohol; it must metabolize it right away, so you’re likely to store additional calories you’ve consumed as fat – yikes!
I’m not here to tell you to give up alcohol. I consider it a treat and enjoy couple cocktails a week- that’s “real life” for me. If you limit your intake to once or twice a week and work your alcohol into your daily caloric requirements, its not going to do you much harm. What’s crucial is knowing how to do drink alcohol wisely. My two rules of thumb for diet-friendly cocktails: limit intake to three cocktails per week, and consume alcohol straight, on the rocks, or with a calorie-free / low-cal mixer.
Here are my top 6 diet-friendly cocktails:
Gin & Diet Tonic: 96 Calories per 8 oz.
Gin and diet tonic is widely known for being a skinny cocktail. Since Gin is low-cal and sugar-free, mixing 1.5 ounces of Gin with calorie-free diet tonic makes this drink the perfect skinny cocktail. The bonus of drinking Gin is that it’s made from Juniper berries which provide numerous health benefits. Juniper berries are full of antioxidants and vitamins, can improve digestion, and are a natural diuretic to help beat the bloat, just to name a few.
Vodka & Soda Water: 96 Calories per 8 oz.
Need something light and refreshing? Simply pour 1.5 ounces of Vodka and soda water over ice and enjoy! Although Vodka is made from starches like corn, rice, and potatoes, the end-result is an alcohol that is 100% carbohydrate-free. Vodka is also very versatile, so if you prefer a little more flavor, add a splash of cranberry juice, pineapple juice, orange juice, or St. Germaine liqueur for minimal additional calories.
Super Skinny Margarita: 125 Calories per 8 oz.
Ditch the sugar-filled margarita for this low-cal option. Combine 1.5 ounces of tequila with 2.5 ounces of lime juice, .25 tsp. of orange extract, and a splash of liquid stevia to taste. Also, when given the option, opt for 100% agave tequila. This is because when consumed in controlled amounts, the agavin sugar in this tequila will pass through the system without being absorbed, unlike other alcohol sugars.
Light Beer: 55-102 Calories per 12 oz.
Light beer has been brewed to be lower in alcohol than its regular version. The result is a lighter taste and lower calorie beer. Light beers can vary between 55-102 calories, therefore the beer with 55 calories will have half the alcohol content than the beer with 102 calories. Also keep in mind low carb beer doesn’t necessary mean it’s a low-calorie beer.
Rum & Diet Coke: 98 Calories per 8 oz.
If you like sweeter drinks, 1.5 ounces of Rum mixed with diet coke is the perfect cocktail. Rum is distilled from sugarcane juice, sugar cane syrup, or molasses, but also carbohydrate-free. Just remember the higher the proof of the rum, the higher the calorie content. Opt for a standard 80 proof (40% alcohol) like Myers Dark Rum, Bacardi Silver or Bacardi Gold.
Red Wine: 125 Calories per 5 oz.
Red wine is a great option because its numerous health benefits it offers. It’s is loaded with antioxidants which protects against heart disease and heart attack, reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, cuts the risk of colon cancer, promote longevity, and slows brain decline- just to name a few. I usually opt for a Malbec or a Blend, but you can drink any red wine to realize the benefits.
Keeping it real,