healthy cocktails

Healthier Cocktail Hours

Enjoying the pool side cocktail is one of summer’s great pleasures, but it is no secret that alcohol can make you gain unwanted body fat FAST! If you are aggressively working towards a weight loss goal (for example the 24 Day Challenge) I advise eliminating alcohol completely. Short term and aggressive goals call for such restriction because quick results are the ultimate goal. However, if we’re talking about a “lifestyle” rule, I tell my ladies they can have 3-4 drinks per week, and men 4-5 drinks per week.

Why Alcohol Adds Body Fat So Quickly

1. It’s nothing but empty calories. Alcohol contains absolutely no nutritional value. Yes, red wine has antioxidants but there are other ways to fit antioxidants into your diet. I’m not mad at you if you want to drink, I drink wine on a regular basis- BUT let’s not kid ourselves- there is nothing healthy there. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram- almost twice that of protein and carbohydrates. It is extremely calorie dense, so it is easy to see why we can gain weight so quickly when we drink regularly.

2. The processing of alcohol slows your metabolism. Alcohol is viewed by the body as a toxin and is processed differently from the other things we eat. Alcohol places a heavy burden on your liver and digestive system and when consumed in excess can lead to the build up of a “fatty liver” that contributes to a host of other problems like diabetes and heart disease. The liver is vitally important to our health and is responsible for filtering everything we take in. If it is continually burdened by the processing of alcohol and other chemicals it will function less efficiently. A less efficient liver means a less efficient metabolism which causes your energy levels to decrease and your waistline to grow.

3. It lowers inhibitions making you more likely to overindulge. Alcohol is quickly absorbed into the blood stream and our brain is affected almost immediately. When we are not thinking clearly, it is much easier to become complacent about our eating habits. Take into consideration that alcohol is often enjoyed at social gathering amongst a variety of decadent foods and you have a recipe for overindulgence.

Tips for a Social Life That Doesn’t Destroy Your Diet

1. Never go anywhere hungry. Maintaining your proper meal timing is vital for your success. It keeps you in control of your inner cookie monster. 🙂

2. Plan how much you drink before you go out. Premaking your decision to only drink 2 drinks per night will keep you on track with your diet and will also keep you from having a hang over the next day.

3. Drink a glass of water in-between your drinks. It will slow you down and consequently decrease the number of empty calories you consume.

4. Skip simple syrup and other added sugars (this includes agave nectar). Ask for the drink on the rocks and without simple syrup. Sure, drinks aren’t quite as tasty without the sugar, but doing this will cause you to drink them slower which will save you calories, money and a hangover.

5. Avoid daiquiris and premixed drinks. These adult slushies are about as nutritionally sound as their child friendly counterparts. They are loaded with sugar and are guaranteed to pack on the pounds.

Healthier Versions of Popular Cocktails

Trade a little liquor for club soda. To make, use 1 shot (about 2 ounces) citrus-flavored vodka, 1 splash club soda, 1 splash cranberry juice, and juice of 1 lime wedge; shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass.

Skip the sugar. Fill a martini shaker with 1 cup ice. Add a few lime wedges, 1 tbsp lime juice, and 2 tbsp fresh mint leaves. Muddle lime and mint, add 2 ounces rum, and 4 ounces club soda. Stir & strain into a rocks glass filled with ice; garnish with mint and lime.

Swap the sugar for stevia and skip the liquor. Slice up 2 apples and 2 oranges. Combine fruit with 2 cups red grapes, halved; 1 bottle of light- to medium-bodied red wine; and 2 cans club soda & ~3-5 packets of stevia. Chill mixture, and serve over ice.

Pina Colada
Skip the sugar flavor mixes and use fresh ingredients instead. Mix 2 oz. Coconut flavored rum (like Bacardi) with 5 oz Coconut water and 2 oz. of pineapple juice. Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass & garnish with a pineapple slice.

Like Pina Colada, these are best on the rocks without the added sugar. Start with 2 ounces silver tequila, 1 ounce fresh lime juice, and 1 ounce fresh orange juice. Shake well and strain into a glass over ice. Garish with a lime wedge.

White wines tend to be lower in alcohol and calories than reds. Choose dry wines like Pinot Grigio over sweeter varieties like Muscato. This will save on average 40 calories per glass.

Choose the less sweet “Brut” varieties over super sweet “Doux” Champagne to save you about 50 calories per glass.

Choose the light varieties like Corona light, or Miller light and save yourself about 70 calories per beer.

Being healthy does not mean you have to forgo your social life and as you can see, it is possible to choose “lighter” versions of basically any drink. Do your homework before you go out and don’t be afraid to specify the way you would like your drink to be made when you’re out.

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photo credit: alpha du centaure via photopin cc