Alcohol and long weekends go hand-in-hand. But the calories in our favorite alcoholic drinks add up, and we certainly don’t want all of our hard work and progress to go to waste. So, we tapped registered dietitians and certified fitness trainers, Tammy Lakatos Shames and Lyssie Lakatos, otherwise known as The Nutrition Twins, for tips on how to make healthier drinks that won’t derail our diets. Don’t set down your glass and walk away slowly just yet. Keep scrolling for the twins’ best tips for smart sipping.
Have A Pre-Party
No, not a pregame. A pre-party is less about catching a buzz and more about filling your stomach before the main event. “If you show up to a barbecue or event with an empty stomach, you’ll feel the alcohol faster,” say the twins. “This may lead to more drinking and likely eating more, as well.” Choose your own healthy snacks or try the twins’ go-to: veggies and tea.
“Tea is warm and soothing, and contains an amino acid called theanine, which has been shown to produce an alertness that may help you make rational decisions,” they explain. And veggies, full of fiber, will fill you up so the cocktails won’t hit your system as quickly.
Set Limits And Stick To Them
It sounds silly, but simply providing yourself with some rules may help you from going overboard. “Plan in advance how much alcohol you’ll drink and stick to it,” say the twins. This will help you control your caloric and alcohol intake so you won’t go too crazy on either front. Once you’ve reached your limit, the twins suggest you pop a piece of gum or a mint in your mouth. This will keep your tastebuds occupied and prevent the urge to drink more.
Use The “Every Other” Rule
“Alcohol increases hunger and lowers inhibitions, which makes us want to eat more and care less about what exactly we’re eating,” explain the twins. The fix? Even when you’re drinking healthier drinks, swap every other alcoholic drink with a non-caloric, non-alcoholic beverage. Seltzer, iced green tea, or simply water with a squeeze of lime will fill your stomach and start you off on the right foot.
Know Your Mixers
Rum and coke, gin and tonic, cranberry vodka. All easy go-to beverages of choice, all mostly comprised of sugar. “Alcohol has plenty of calories already, so no need to jack up the calories with your mixers,” say the twins. Here are their favorite mixers for healthier drinks:
- Use seltzer, not tonic. A lot of people don’t realize that these are two different beverages, but seltzer is calorie-free, while tonic is definitely not. Experiment with fresh ingredient add-ons like mint and citrus fruits for a twist.
- Order your drink on the rocks. If you can stand it, that is. This, obviously, eliminates any additional calories and you’re more likely to sip a bit slower, too.
- If you prefer standard fruit juice, request just a small splash of your favorite variety along with some seltzer.
Your Best Bets
As far as choosing healthier drinks goes, pop a cork because Prosecco is a great party option! The bubbly stuff comes at just 100 calories per five ounces (or the size of the average champagne flute). For comparison, a shot-glass serving of liquor, which is about one and a half ounces, has around 120 calories.
You can also sip on light beer, which usually comes in between 70 to 150 calories. Beer in a bottle or can also helps you monitor exactly how much you’re drinking as opposed to a mixed drink where you can’t measure the pour yourself.
Otherwise, stick to hard liquor on the rocks or with a lighter mixer stirred in and you’ll be fine. And always remember, balance is key, so don’t forget to have fun.