It’s that time of year – time for summer parties, tropical vacations, bathing suits (eek!), and warmer weather. For most us of us, this means we will find ourselves wanting a nice cool drink to cool us off or to share a good time with friends. But, if you’re trying to stay slim and trim for your swimwear, which drinks will help keep you from losing control?
First things first -The ABC’s of Alcohol:
If you plan on having a cocktail (and are of drinking age, of course) sometime this spring or summer, it is good to know how much and what you are consuming, especially if you’re watching your waistline – bathing suit season is here!
1 gram of alcohol has 7 calories. Compare that to carbohydrates and protein which only have 4 calories per gram. It’s easy to go overboard with calories from alcohol and alcoholic drinks without even knowing it. One margarita or pina colada can have more calories than a full meal.
These are the standard amounts for different types of alcoholic drinks:
5 ounces of wine has about 124 calories; 12 ounces of a wine cooler can run up to 212 calories; 12 ounces of beer has about 64-190calories (depending on the brand); and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled liquor has about 84 calories. Remember this is even without any mixers or add-ins which can double or triple the calories.
So what can you do to watch your calorie intake when you need a cool drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) in the hot summer?
- Choose lower calorie drinks such as wine, light beer, or cocktails made with low-calorie mixers. For example, choose diet coke as a mixer instead of regular and you can save up to 100 calories per drink. Other low-calorie mixers include, diet tonic, soda water, light lemonade, or light cranberry juice. Be careful with juices, as they can more than double the drink’s calorie content. Choosing light beer can also save up to 80-100 calories per beer.
- Use the “one for one” rule: for every one alcoholic drink, have one alcohol-free drink. Water is your best bet. It will help you drink less alcohol as well as keep you from getting dehydrated.
- Have a plan of action. Decide how many drinks you will have (especially if you’re choosing cocktails) and stick to that number. Make sure to eat as well! And of course, don’t drink and drive!
- Remember, even if you are steering away from alcohol entirely, even non-alcoholic drinks can add on the calories. For example, even a non-alcoholic pina colada can pack on about 300 calories. Stick to the lower calorie drinks.
Recommendations are to limit alcohol for men to 2 drinks per day and 1 drink per day for women. Be aware of what you are drinking, and have a game plan to keep your summer fun and healthy at the same time!
Shelly Edens is a registered dietitian with Memorial Hospital.