Summer often means hanging by the pool and sipping a cold one. But this can be tricky if you're trying to lose weight. YourTango is here with the best and worst alcohol to drink if you want to keep pounds off.
Piña coladas are not your friend.
We live for our happy hour dates but by doing so, are we derailing our diet? When it comes to watching calories and weight control, alcohol can actually be a major foe, no matter how badly we need that cocktail.
"When it comes to weight loss, the number one factor affecting the waist line is how many calories we consume. Weight gain happens when we consume more calories than we burn, whereas weight loss happens when we burn off more calories than we use," says Rene Ficek, a registered dietitian and lead nutrition expert at Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating.
Alcoholic beverages can be very high in calories and easily lead to weight gain. It's perfectly fine to have a cocktail or two, but if you aren't careful, it can easily add hundreds of calories to your daily intake.
Obviously, if weight loss is your goal, then drinking any form of alcohol will postpone your results. Why?
"Unlike the macronutrients protein, fat, and carbs, alcohol is comprised solely of empty calories with no nutritional value. As a result, it is the first fuel to be used, putting the fat-burning process on the back burner," says certified health and lifestyle coach, Allison Hagendorf.
Here are a few of the best (and worst) drinks to ensure you keep your alcohol calories in check:
Dry wine, not sweet
Sweet wine typically has an additional 100-150 calories per glass, says Ficek. If you do drink wine, consider mixing it with club soda and making it a spritzer to cut down on the calories. Consider going red, too, as it has heart health benefits.
Club soda (as a mixer)
Club soda pairs well with vodka or gin and is calorie free. Plus, you will be helping to rehydrate yourself to prevent a hangover. Lemons and limes can help flavor this mixer, plus it will add a nutritional boost of vitamin C. Say no to adding juice, sports drinks, energy drinks or soda to any alcoholic beverage, says Ficek.
Light beer can have between 95-140 calories per 12 oz. serving. It contains the same amount of alcohol as regular beer but with fewer carbohydrates and calories, says Alexandra Miller, RDN, LDN, and corporate dietitian at Medifast. Beer also contains polyphenols, which have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.
Mimosas generally contain equal parts of sparkling wine (champagne) and fruit juice (particularly orange juice). "Stick with a small amount of 100% or lower calorie fruit juice and forego adding any additional alcohol or sweeteners. If made in this way, a 4 oz. mimosa comes in at about 75 calories," says Miller.
Wine or straight alcohol
"If drinking it straight or on the rocks is too intense, add club soda and a splash of fresh juice. For example, my go-to 'Fit To Feast' cocktail is tequila on the rocks, club soda, fresh squeezed lime," says Hagendorf.
"This summer-time favorite includes rum, crème of coconut, and pineapple juice, all of which add a combination of calories, fat, and sugar. A 6 oz. pina colada can have well-over 300 calories plus a nice dose of added sugars," says Miller. Instead try unsweetened coconut water (in place of cream) with rum and a splash of pineapple juice.
Long Island Iced Tea
With a combination of rum, vodka, gin, tequila, and triple sec, this cocktail can have up to 700 calories per 8 oz. serving, says Miller. Instead try unsweetened tea with vodka and a splash of lemon or lime juice.
Margaritas & Daiquiris
Icy, fruity, and 500-700 calories, all in one glass. "For a refreshing margarita, try tequila on the rocks with a splash of lime juice. To slim down your daiquiri, combine fresh berries, rum, ice, and a dash of stevia; blend and enjoy," says Miller.
With vodka, coffee liqueur, and heavy cream, this drink has about 450 calories, says Miller. Instead try chilled brewed coffee with skim milk, vodka, and ice.
Sugary syrups, table sugar, and fruit juice means a lot of calories and sugar, says Miller. Make your own sangria with a combination of fresh fruit, wine, and calorie-free seltzer.
Craft beers and cocktails
Avoid calorie-dense craft beer (and any beer for that matter) and cocktails, says Hagendorf. Yes, even the delicious mixology ones. Agave syrup is still sugar.
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