Love Wine, Beer, Vodka Tonic, Pina Coladas, or Rum and Coke? Find out my answer to: Can I drink alcohol and still lose weight?
Happy New Year! With resolutions aplenty and diet commercials galore, many might be wondering if alcohol can be included in a successful weight loss plan. Alcohol is definitely one of those topics that spark a lot of discussion in my practice. “Can I drink alcohol and still lose weight?” is one of the most common questions I’m asked on a regular basis. My answer is always the same…”It depends.” Asking this question is akin to asking if you can eat carbs and lose weight. There are so many different types of drinks that contain alcohol and the calorie levels can be manageable or sky high depending on what’s in it. Let me break down a few common favorites to help you make the best decisions for your healthy lifestyle.
First, let’s acknowledge that the newly released 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states, “If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age.” So, even if you have the ability to consume a higher calorie level, that does not mean you should spend those calories on more than 1-2 drinks per day. Just saying.
When it comes to choosing an alcoholic beverage, you want the most bang for your calorie buck, especially if you plan on having more than one! To keep calories in check, I suggest stretching your alcohol budget with non-caloric beverages like club soda or flavored sparkling water/seltzer (without any sweeteners). Try a wine spritzer, or add some sparkling water to a single spirit like rum. Adding muddled fruit is a fantastic way to impart flavor with only a few extra calories, plus you get some fiber to boot. Think vodka with raspberries and blackberries. Or, you can freeze pureed fruit in ice cube trays and add them to your sparkling cocktail- watermelon vodka, perhaps?
Fakeout warning: Tonic water has almost the same amount of sugar as soda! 12 ounces contains 32 grams which is 8 teaspoons! Don’t let water in the name fool you!
Note: studies have shown** that when you combine diet soda with alcohol like a rum and diet cola or vodka with diet lemon/lime soda, the alcohol leaves the stomach faster than if you had used regular soda as the mixer. This means your blood alcohol level rises more rapidly even if you may not notice a difference in behavior. This is especially important for those who plan on driving!
If you or a family member has diabetes, for the most part, alcohol is not off limits. There are definitely some guidelines and the American Diabetes Association offers some “Tips to Sip By“. Definitely, check those out, and when in doubt, always ask your doctor.
Here are some calorie counts for popular drinks and spirits using the USDA database:
1 drink = 12 ounces beer, 5 ounces wine or 1 1/2 ounces hard alcohol/spirits:
|White Wine||5 ounces||121|
|Red Wine||5 ounces||125|
|Vodka, Rum, Whiskey (100 proof)||1 ½ ounces||124|
|Rum and Diet Coke||8 ounces||100|
|Vodka Tonic||8 ounces||200|
|Whiskey Sour||3.5 ounces||158|
|Light Beer||12 ounces||96|
|Pina Colada||8 ounces||327|
Watch your portions! It’s easy to get a little generous with your pour, and if you are ordering cocktails at a bar, some of those margaritas, daiquiris, and other frozen drinks can contain upwards of 800 calories if it’s large enough. Stay away from the large souvenir cups and fish bowls!
Just remember, you can enjoy some alcohol and still lose weight. It takes a little planning and avoiding impulse ordering. After all, drinking gives you the munchies so you will not only take in calories from the alcohol, but you may also lower your inhibitions and go to town on the basket of chips or bowl of nuts.
If your drink comes with an umbrella, there’s a good chance it contains WAY too many calories and sugar grams for your weight control efforts.
What’s your favorite libation? Please share your tricks and ideas in the comments below:
**Effects of artificial sweeteners on breath alcohol concentrations in male and female social drinkers. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26507176
**Diet Soda May Be the More Dangerous Alcohol Mixer http://abcnews.go.com/Health/diet-soda-potent-alcohol-mixer/story?id=18411329