Drinking and diets, oh my!

One of the things I find hardest to give up is drinking while on a diet. Happy hours, socials, or just a nice glass of red wine with Friday night dinner – all of it goes out the window! You can’t expect your friends or bartender to know what’s low in calories. I wish someone had told me this before (I did have a bit too much fun yesterday, and I’m going to pay for it this weekend), so take my advice and come prepared. It’ll help you stay on track and keep fit.

The thing to know:

  • The standard 1.5 ounce serving of 80-proof alcohol has 96 calories even before you add any mixers. A 6-ounce serving of orange juice has 84 calories, but add a shot of liquor to make it a screwdriver, and the calories more than double.
  • It’s the mixers, syrups, and sodas that really get people into calorie trouble because most drinks start with 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits that only have around 96 calories.
    • 80-proof vodka (40% alcohol; the most common type) has 64 calories per 1oz
    • 86-proof vodka (43% alcohol) has 70 calories/1 oz
    • 90-proof vodka (45% alcohol) has 73 calories/1 oz
    • 100-proof vodka (50% alcohol) has 82 calories/1 oz

So, what does this all mean? 

Well, in general, wine is the most calorie-friendly selection with a typical 20 calories per ounce. Each 5-ounce glass would then be 100 calories with no cholesterol, sodium, or fat. Hard liquor is higher in calories per ounce than wine and is often mixed with soda, which increases the calorie count. If you’re going to drink alcohol, use calorie-free mixers like diet soda or diet tonic water. Beer is the next best choice for dieters, with about 150 calories per 12-ounce serving. Choosing light beers will drop your caloric intake without sacrificing much flavor and while tasty, liqueurs pack the most calories per ounce, so enjoy them sparingly.

With that in mind, let’s check out my top 5 faves!

Red/White Wine: 5 ounces = 100 Calories

Scotch: 1.5 ounces = 104 Calories

Light Beer: 12 ounces= 108 Calories

Martini: 2.2 ounces = 13 Calories

Manhattan: 3.3 ounces = 153 Calories

In that order! Select the drink that works best with your dinner or happy hour social and enjoy yourself. I like to drink an 8-ounce glass of water in between cocktails so that I stay social and hydrated without feeling like I’m nursing this one drink. Also, remember that you can always get back on track the next few days, even if you screw up one day (like me). Don’t give up, don’t stay at home, and definitely don’t stop having fun!