By: Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
Looking for a way to cut calories, sugar and salt from your lifestyle but still want to enjoy your local pub? That means, still want to enjoy a couple, ok a few, drinks now and then, ok every weekend?
I’m no bartender, and my go to fave is Grey Goose on the rocks with blue cheese stuffed olives, but there’s plenty of wisdom out there that says cocktails, shots, frozen drinks and wine drinks can all be fully enjoyed…well, without feeling full of guilt.
First, use your common sense…that means before you start drinking, while you still have common sense, follow a couple of simple guidelines:
1. Reduce your sugar intake by using only fresh squeezed fruits if you like fruit in your drinks.
2. Reduce your salt intake by avoiding carbonated water and choosing seltzer water instead.
3. Reduce your sugar intake even further by making your own syrup if your drinks call for syrup, with ½ tablespoon of honey and ¾ tablespoon of warm water.
4. Light alcohol trumps dark alcohol if you want to lessen the hangover likelihood.
5. Reduce your calories by limiting your total alcohol content to one shot, even in a multi-cocktail concoction.
Here’s what San Diego mixology experts tell me are ten low-calorie cocktails you can enjoy guilt-free, well almost:
Gin and Juice (pour over ice and use ½ cup of fresh squeezed oranges, a shot of gin and ½ cup of seltzer
Vodka & Sprite Zero (or with a splash of pomegranates or cranberries)
Mojito with the simple syrup recipe above
Tequila with lime juice and seltzer soda
Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut Champagne
Watermelon Martini with agave nectar
Margarita on the rocks (blend the syrup recipe, ½ lemon and 1 lime, leave out the Cointreau, add wasabi powder)
White wine spritzer (diluted with water or seltzer soda)
Mimosa lite with fresh squeezed oranges, sparkling wine and ¼ cup seltzer
Of course, it’ll be quite the party having all of these, which is why the Grey Goose and blue cheese stuffed olives are easiest…and still allow you to get to the gym in the morning.
Keep in mind that an average 12-ounce domestic beer contains about 150 calories, the same as a 3.5 ounce glass of sweet wine. 1.5 ounces of 90-proof alcohol contains about 110 calories, and when you add carbonated sugar-filled sodas and juices, you also add on the calories. Alcohol adds empty calories and is converted to acetate that hampers your ability to burn fat. Think of it this way, a hefty cocktail will double-cross you by cancelling out that heart pounding, fat-burning workout you enjoyed earlier in the day.
My advice? Be aware of what you are drinking and go for the low-calorie fun. Drink plenty of water between your cocktails, and plan your weak spots in advance.
You can either drink anything and as much as you want, OR you can keep your waistline. You just can’t do both.
Check out “Stress and Food” for great tips on curbing your appetite for unhealthy foods and drinks!