When trying to maintain the current body or shed some pounds, it’s probably best to avoid alcohol altogether. But for us boozers, that isn’t going to happen. So if you’re going to imbibe, there are ways to lessen the calories and sugar you’ll be pouring down your throat.
A typical Margarita, while fun and beachy-feeling, contains upwards of 750 calories. If you drink 3 of these, it’s akin to eating 3 Big Macs and a chocolate shakes. Forbes says the most fattening cocktail is the Long Island Ice Tea, coming in at 780 calories and 44 grams of carbs. To burn that off by walking (100 calories per mile is typical), you’d need to hike from Grand Army Plaza to JFK. Drink 2 and you’d need to walk from the Coop to the Bronx Zoo.
If you simplify that drink to just rum (1.5 oz = 120 calories) and Coke (8 oz = 100 calories), you’ve cut 75% of the damage. Use Diet Coke (8 oz = 1 calorie), and you’re doing 1/8th the damage. According to this list, there’s not a huge difference in the calories of most base liquors. I’m not going to do the math, but let’s say the average liquor clocks in at 115 calories per 1.5 oz. The only variable you can really control is the mixer.
Personally, I can’t stand diet drinks. The aftertaste bites me the wrong way.
As such, I shifted from cola/soft drink based mixers altogether. For a while I was enjoying either vodka or gin with tonic, which seemed a cleaner drink. However 10 ounces of tonic water weighs in at around 100 calories, about the same as a regular soft drink. Five of these cocktails on a Friday night are 1,000 calories, which takes 2.5 hours of walking stairs to burn off. I don’t know about you, but 10 minutes hiking around the 4th Ave/9th St. station wears me out. How about 2.5 hours?
So what’s a fizzy, clear alternative to tonic? Soda Water/Seltzer. Zero calories. Zero carbs. This simple substitution cuts the night out calories in half. And you still get the same amount of booze. Furthermore, it’s cheaper when making at home. A case of Canada Dry Tonic Water is $20 from Fresh Direct, but seltzer water is a mere $8 for a case of 1 liter bottles.
So here’s the bottom line advice. Look for:
- Mixers that are low in sugar. Diet sodas, diet tonics, “lite” sugared drinks., unsweetened iced tea, etc.
- Mixers that have no or low carbs: Water, tonic, soda water.
- Fruit and veggie juices are fine, but can be high in natural sugars. If you go with orange, apple, tomato, sweetened teas or any other tweaked natural source, check the label to see what’s be adulterated.
I’m not an expert, just simply sharing my experiences. Do you have any favorite healthy drinking tips?