As a dietitian and as someone who enjoys socializing over cocktails, I believe that you don’t have to give up alcohol just because you are trying to lose weight. This is supported by research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine that found that light to moderate drinkers actually gain less weight over time than teetotalers, and they also have a lower chance of becoming overweight or obese.
I know this from experience working with my clients who consistently lose weight without abstaining from alcohol. Instead of asking them to cut out alcohol, I help them learn to drink a bit smarter by avoiding unnecessary calories.
Lighten your usual drink
It’s easy to order a less caloric version of your usual drink. For example, have vodka, tequila or other spirits with zero-calorie club soda and a splash of juice instead of an 80 calorie cup of tonic. For nearly the same calories, you can relax over two rum and Diet Cokes or have one specialty cocktail, such as a cosmopolitan.
Make yours a spritzer
Do like the Europeans and have a wine spritzer (half wine, half club soda) that’s refreshing and waist-friendly at about 50 calories a glass.
Beware of mixed drinks
A single margarita or other sugary cocktails can pack anywhere from 450 – 600 calories! Opt instead for tequila with a splash of juice and a wedge of lime, or order a drink made with light vodka in your favorite flavor mixed with zero-calorie soda water.
Sip wine and spirits
Your best bet for low-cal drinking is wine and spirits, because these contain about 90 calories per drink.
If you plan to have only one drink, order one that you will linger over. For example, a martini is practically straight liquor, but shaken with ice and an aromatic splash of vermouth, it is a reasonable 160 calories per 2.5-ounce glass. If you expect to have more than one cocktail, try alternating with a glass of water or seltzer with a wedge of lemon or lime.
Tip: Try my lighter twist on a classic cocktail – Basil Bloody Mary
For more tips, delicious high fiber meal plans, recipes, and proven ways to lose weight and look great, check out my latest book The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber!
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a registered dietitian in New York City and author of the Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with fiber as well as the bestselling F-Factor Diet. Follow Tanya on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and visit her website Ffactor.com.