Friday, January 22, 2010

It's always five o'clock somewhere...

If there is one question I get more from readers than any other, it involves maintaining an active social life without gaining weight. Seeing as how this is Friday, and several people are now leaving work and heading to the local pub to meet friends, what better time to respond to that query?
My answer is: yes, you can have your alcohol and drink it too. You just need to be smart about your choices.
According to statistics, Americans drink about 20 percent of their total calories on average. For those unaware, hard liquor and mixed drinks pack more calories depending on the quality of the liquor and the ingredients in the cocktail mix. The rule of thumb is, the higher the proof, the higher the calories, and the creamier the cocktail, the more fattening it is. Some cocktails - take a Long Island Iced Tea, White Russian or Mai Tai - can pack 400 to 800 calories in a standard 12-ounce glass. In addition, juices, full-calorie sodas and tonic water add more calories to any drink.

So here is the boozy breakdown...Most glasses of wine contain 125-150 calories, but that can double depending on the size of the glass and how full it is. Beer can range from 64 to 198 calories per 12 ounces. Most hard alcohol (rum, vodka, tequila, whiskey, etc.) runs about 100 calories per shot. Super-caloric cocktails and super-sized drinks are major diet destroyers. Some chain restaurants, for example, serve margaritas with double shots and extra mixers that could add up to 1,000 calories or more in one mug.

Now, now, don't fret. If you're thinking you can never have a decent drink again, you're wrong. Although I'm definitely more of a beer and wine kinda gal, I certainly enjoy a light cocktail on occasion. For example, there are 103 calories in a glass combined with 1 oz. gin and 3 oz. tonic. I also like vodka mixed with Sprit Zero or Sierra Mist. It's under 100 calories, booyah!

So here are a few tips to drinking in style, provided by various experts.

* If you're a beer lover, stick to the light stuff. It has about 100 calories per 12 ounces as opposed to the 150 to 200 in regular beer. Another tip: Order bottled beer to keep portions in control. Not a fan of light beer? Grab a Guinness, which is only 125 calories a bottle.
* When drinking wine, keep in mind that most glasses contain way more than a 100-calorie, 5-oz. serving.
* Unless you don't mind drinking your dinner, stay clear of frozen or blended drinks. Pina coladas, daiquiris, and frozen margaritas are insanely high in sugar, with some clocking in at over 1,000 calories.
* Copious drinking often leads to bad, greasy bar food choices. Either have a healthy, protein-packed meal/snack beforehand at home, or try to find low-calorie menu items to supplement the drinks.
* Sip a glass of water between cocktails to pace yourself. Not only will this keep you hydrated, but it will also help keep you feeling full to avoid ordering extra drinks.
* Curb some of those calories with sugar-free mixers. You can save 100 calories if you combine the liquor with diet soda versus the regular version. Or substitute water, club soda, light juices, low-calorie sweeteners or sugar-free syrups for easy calorie savings.
* Finally, be smart and do NOT drive under the influence. And always keep your eyes on your drink, especially if you're at a bar surrounded by strangers.

And because I love you all so much, here are some low-calorie cocktail recipes, courtesy of Hungry Girl.

Just remember, balance and moderation are key to being able to socialize sensibly and stick to your healthy lifestyle. Have a great weekend!

No comments: