When we are meant to be dieting we are constantly confronted with a range of temptations and lures that try to get us to abandon our new eating regime and to start to once again pile on the pounds. Normally we consider the ‘usual suspects’ to be things like cake and chocolate, but there are some others too that regularly contribute. One such temptation is alcohol, and this can be one that is particularly difficult to resist.
The first problem with alcoholic drinks is that you don’t think of them as being bad for your diet. They don’t for the most part taste sweet or sugary so we tend to think of them as alright. At the same time they are social drinks and this means that it can sometimes be hard to say no when everyone else is saying ‘go on’. Then there’s the problem of inebriation – in other words, once you’ve had one, you suddenly lose the foresight to be able to say no. All of this makes it very easy to over-indulge in alcoholic drinks even when you’re meant to be dieting and have been so well behaved in every other respect.
Alcohol though is a problem if you want to shed weight and in fact there are many alcoholic drinks that can do quite severe damage to your body fat. Take for example a cocktail – which on average has more calories than a McDonald’s chicken burger. That got your attention didn’t it?
Alcohol itself is calorific and the stronger an alcoholic drink is the more calories it will contain. One gram of alcohol has in total 7 calories, and this is compared to say 4 calories in the same amount of carbohydrates or protein. Then on top of all that though there is then much more added to the alcohol and this includes sugar and salt and flavorings, and sometimes even cream and all this makes the drinks more calorific still. It’s not called a ‘beer belly’ for nothing.
Fortunately not all alcoholic drinks where made equal and while it’s true that alcoholic drinks are often a culprit for unwanted weight gain there are certainly some alcoholic drinks that aren’t as bad, and by carefully choosing your poison it is at least possible to reduce your weight gain as much as possible. Here we will look at how.
Low Calorie Beer
One of the biggest calories is often thought to be beer, but in reality that is not completely true and on average a beer has around 150 calories – which is about the same as a latte (though you wouldn’t drink seven lattes in one night and this is the principle difference… ).
However some beers are going to be better for you than others. As noted, drinking lower percentage beers will generally mean that you are getting fewer calories as well, but don’t be tempted to then drink more drinks as a result or you’ll end up defeating the object and getting more calories in total (and probably getting more drunk).
The best low calorie beers are Pabst Extra Light Low Alcohol (67 calories per 12 oz) or Molson Light (82 calories). If you can find anything that says ‘Light’ or ‘Extra Light’ then that’s a good sign that it’s low in calories.
Many people think that wine is good for you, but this is a rumor that has been grandly exaggerated. The reality is that red wine is relatively good for you because it contains resveratrol and antioxidants. However this is to do with your aging and the likelihood of cancer – it has nothing to do with your weight and wine is just as high in calories as many other alcoholic drinks. Again though you can choose to drink smartly, and some good brands that will give you fewer calories are Zinfandel, Chablis and Chardonnays which tend to be 80-90 calories per 4 oz.
Spirits don’t list health information and this includes calories (this is also true of some wine). That of course makes it very difficult to know what you’re getting in a shot.
However that said you can guesstimate by the taste of a spirit – if it is sweet in flavor (such as liqueurs) then this will suggest that they are higher in calories as there’s clearly sugar in there (one ounce of Brandy Alexander is 300 calories). If they are clear then you are getting mostly alcohol apart from perhaps some aniseed or mint, and this will do less damage. For instance a shot of vodka is 80 calories.
How you drink them is also going to affect the alcoholic content. If you have a few shots of vodka and absinthe for instance, then this will quickly get you drunk while the small serving will mean that you take fewer calories on board. This is a good way to start a night with something sociable, and from there you can then drink some low fat beers to keep you going and prevent you from getting sober (if this is your intention).
When you have cocktails you need to think about what is going in, and juices though healthy in other ways do add to the number of calories. Be careful again of sweet liqueurs being thrown into the mix as well as other ingredients as a strong cocktail can do serious damage to your number of calories. Case in point – a Long Island Iced Tea will cost you a whopping 780 calories.