When it comes to weight loss, we are all pros at knowing the heroes and villains on the plate. No to the French fries, yes to the crunchy carrot salad. But what about your meal’s humble sidekick – the alcoholic bev? Things tend to get a little murkier, with many of us totally unaware of the caloric intake of alcohol. Sure – alcohol may have almost no nutritional value, but even the strictest of dieters can relax knowing there are several options out there promising to keep the calories low and the indulgence high.
Here’s a breakdown of alcoholic drinks that get the all clear by nutritionists, and the ones that don’t.
Here’s what will be the lesser of two evils:
Wine enthusiasts will be happy to hear their favourite bottle ain’t gonna break the belt. Red and white wine contains roughly 100 to 120 calories per glass, if you’re pouring a standard 150ml glass. Red wine does have added nutritional benefits being high in antioxidants, while a six-year study of 43,500 people by the University of Denmark concluded infrequent wine drinkers ended up with the biggest waistlines, daily drinkers had the smallest. As Cersei Lannister would say, more wine.
The simple truth is that most straight alcohol does about the same damage, calorie-wise. Gin and rum contain 116 calories per 45ml respectively, while vodka sits at around 97. A good rule of thumb is that the sweeter the liquor, the more calories it contains. Spiced rum, for example shouldn’t be a go-to. Instead, opt for the ‘plain’ version of your liquor of choice and give it a flavour boost with some lemon or lime. You’ll look like a distinguished human as well.
Everyone’s favourite aromatised, fortified wine is a solid choice for your evening tipple. A 45ml drink, while containing a mere 64 calories, packs about 15 to 18 percent alcohol. Plus, research out of Budapest shows that it’s jam-packed with polyphenol compounds, which may promote healthy weight loss. Remember to drink it straight, like the Europeans, to reap the rewards.
Fewer carbs and calories than their full-bodied cousins, light beers are the best choice for weight loss says Caroline Cederquist, M.D., author of The MD Factor and creator of bistroMD. With just 90 to 100 calories per bottle, you can crack a couple of these frothies without fearing for your abs.
Here’s the stuff you want to avoid:
The first thing to remember, you calorie-conscious drinker, is that mixers are not your friend. High in sugar, a mixer adds stacks of calories to your drink – and not only that, because of the alcohol content, your body can’t metabolise correctly and will store it as fat. That Margarita or Long Island Iced Tea you’ve been eyeing off? Forget about it, buster.
The second thing is to stay away from the frozen drinks, as they are jammed with additional sugars. A frozen margarita can rack up to 800 calories… We don’t need to tell you why that’s bad.
High-alcohol Craft Beers
The rise of local craft breweries is cause for much celebration, except when it comes to weight loss. Because every gram of alcohol contains seven calories, the higher the content, the more calories you’re washing down.
For instance, a 500ml Stone and Wood Pacific Ale contains 210 calories – almost as many as you need for breakfast. Steer clear of these bad boys and head to the light beer section if you’re looking to trim down.