Drinking is so commonplace in our society that it is the one thing many dieters struggle with the most. They can cut out junk food and sodas, but when it comes to saying no to the party juice, it becomes a bit of a struggle.

If you think about it, there’s always a reason to have a few drinks:

"It’s my buddy’s birthday!"

"I’m on vacation!"

"It’s Monday!"

It’s hard to keep track of how many drinks you’re consuming when there are so many festivities involving people offering to fill your cup. We already know that drinking too much alcohol is detrimental to your health and your waistline, and many dietitians and personal trainers would suggest cutting it out of your diet completely while doing any weight-loss program. This doesn’t mean you have to start condemning your social life to knitting at home with your pets just yet.

There is a way for you to drink socially but still maintain or lose weight. It must be noted that drinking alcohol is not the only factor that makes your waistline expand, but every extra sip and bite counts.

What exactly is drinking in moderation? According to Moderation Management and numerous healthy drinking resources, this means having no more then two drinks a day for a male.For a lot of social drinkers, this is almost impossible to maintain for every occasion. That being said, there is a way to keep alcohol in your life while at the same time maintaining a healthy weight.

Calories and Alcohol

Alcohol is essentially empty calories as it provides nothing nutritional that the body needs in order to function properly. It’s the first fuel that is used before carbohydrates, fats and protein, which delays the weight-loss process. It is estimated that alcohol slows down a person’s ability to burn fat by up to 36 percent.

While protein and carbohydrates are about four calories per gram, one gram of fat is worth nine and alcohol about seven. This demonstrates how you’re not getting a lot of bang for your buck if you’re getting your calories from alcohol as opposed to getting them from nutritious and filling meals.

Alcohol also increases the appetite. You know the feeling: You’re at a restaurant with friends, the wine is being poured, and everyone’s having a great time. You don’t remember a time in your life when food ever tasted that good. Your judgment is cloudy, to say the least, and suddenly you’re inhaling everything in sight regardless of whatever "plan" you’re supposed to be on. This can pack in an extra 1,000 calories during dinner, not taking into account the calories from all the wine.

Let’s not forget how you feel the day after a night of drinking either: You’re still dehydrated, hungry and much more likely to continue indulging. The chances that you will want to work out when you feel this way are slim, adding another con to the list.

Although not every calorie is created equal, and 100 calories worth of fruit isn’t the same as a 100-calorie cookie, it all comes down to reducing your total caloric intake if you want to lose weight. To lose one pound of fat you have to burn 500 calories a day and 3,500 calories a week.

Let’s see how that translates when we’re talking about alcohol. Take your average social drinker who’s going to a bar on a Friday night and having about five beers throughout the course of the evening. Maybe later on that week he goes out to happy hour with some coworkers and has three rum and Cokes. That’s 180x5=900 for the beers and 130x3=390 for the rum and Cokes. So that’s 1,290 calories a week just on booze. Now you can see how cutting out alcohol from your diet is recommended so frequently for those who want to slim down.

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Drinking in Moderation

If you still want to party, you’re going to have to start keeping track of everything you are currently drinking. For instance, eating — chances are it’s more then you think. Tell yourself that, alongside better eating habits, you will never drink more then two days a week — no matter what. On the days you do drink, eat as clean as you possibly can — no junk, no fried food and no excess sugar. This reduces the guilt you might have had about the calories in alcohol.

It takes some discipline to drink without gaining weight because, as previously mentioned, the tipsier you get, the more you want to indulge in fattening foods. However, if you follow these guidelines, it’s almost impossible to sneak in extra calories.

Here are some more tips you can use to drink without gaining weight and reduce the calories in your drinks.

— Stay away from fruity juices. Have vodka with diet soda or lime instead of cranberry juice or orange juice;

— Pick light beers over regular when you can;

— Try waiting an hour after you get to an event before drinking;

— Eat a healthy and filling meal before heading out for a night on the town;

— If you come home and you feel like ravaging whatever is in your fridge, drink two mug-fulls of water, then have a snack. It should tide you over.

We'll Drink to That

It is rare that you will find a guy with a "beer belly" who, besides chugging the brews, eats perfectly healthy and works out five days a week. It is the combination of factors that leads to the ever so seductive belly fat. It’s not drinking alcohol alone that makes your waistline expand, but every extra sip and bite counts.

Remember that it’s not about getting ridiculously hammered for two days out of the week as long as you ate salads along the way. Use your judgment. Once you are aware of how many drinks you’re having, you can decide how you’re going to distribute those 3,500 calories. The two-day rule also applies if you do not want to lose weight but simply want to maintain and/or avoid gaining.

Believe that you are allowed to be healthy, eat well and enjoy drinks socially. The fact is that there are many social drinkers out there who maintain healthy, lean physiques. For the most part, they eat moderately as well. They know that drinking can be a fun addition to life, but it’s not something they abuse or use to excess.

Resources:

www.moderation.org