If weight loss is a practice that’s important to you right now, for whatever reason, that’s great. You might be […]
If weight loss is a practice that’s important to you right now, for whatever reason, that’s great. You might be reevaluating the food you put into your body, what time you’re eating and more. And one place that can be a little tricky to navigate when focused on weight loss? Understanding the lowest-calorie, healthiest alcohols to drink for weight loss.
“People order the seemingly fun cocktails that are really more of a sugar bomb, like a daiquiri or frozen margarita,” explains Marissa Meshulam, RDN, who runs MPM Nutrition. Having more than one of these drinks can really add up in terms of fullness and calorie intake.
On top of all that, “Alcohol also tends to lower our inhibitions and makes it much harder to be mindful during meals, which can lead many of us to overeat or choose options we normally wouldn’t,” says Meshulam.
So, how do you know which alcohol to drink that best supports your lifestyle goals? Should you focus just on the calories in a beverage, per se, or the ingredients in the actual drink? Maybe both? If you’re confused, no worries. That’s why Women’s Health tapped experts for all the details on the best low-calorie alcohols and better-for-you drinks. Keep reading.
First, how many calories are in different types of alcohol?
In general, different types of alcohol have about the same number of calories, explains Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition, who also adds that a 100-calorie drink on its own isn’t going to sabotage your goals.
For reference, here’s a breakdown of each type of alcohol’s caloric information:
- Vodka: One shot contains 97 calories (0 carbs, 0 sugar)
- Rum: One shot contains 97 calories (0 carbs, 0 sugar)
- Whiskey, bourbon, scotch: One shot contains 105 calories (.03 grams of carbs per ounce, .03 grams of sugar per ounce)
- Gin: One shot contains 110 calories (0 carbs, 0 sugar)
- Tequila: One shot contains 105 calories (0 carbs, 0 sugar)
- Champagne: One 4-ounce glass contains 90 calories (3 carbs, 1 sugar)
- Beer: One 12-ounce bottle contains 153 calories (13 carbs, 0 sugar)
- Wine: One 5-ounce glass of wine contains 123 calories (4 carbs, 1 sugar)
- Baileys: One shot contains 147 calories (11 carbs, 9 sugar)
What is the best way to order an alcoholic drink if you’re trying to lose weight?
Now that you know the calories in each alcohol, it’s time for you to think about how you’re going to order your drink, exactly. Here are a few tips for your next tab, according to experts:
- Keep your drinks simple. “Once you start using more than one type of booze, your calories really start to get up there,” says Keri Gans, RD, author of The Small Change Diet. For example, if you can take your gin neat with a squeeze of fresh lime, your weight-loss goals will be better off than if you went for the standard, sugar-loaded G&T.
- Meet your new BFF: whiskey. Your best bet for ordering the lowest-calorie alcohol is starting with whiskey or scotch and adding water to help open up the vivid flavors, or a no-calorie mixer like club soda, says Gorin.
- Make an ingredient switch. You can always make a few simple swaps to help lower the number of calories in your original drink of choice. For instance, “Ask for a margarita with less agave, [or] a mojito with less sugar,” says Gorin. “Ask if the bar is serving 100% juice or a juice cocktail, [the latter of] which is a keyword for added sugar and calories.”
- Add all the fruits for flavor. If you want to give your alcohol an oomph, try adding in all the fruits to your drinks, says Meshulam. “Get flavor from muddled fruit and herbs instead of juices, soda or sugar,” says Meshulam, noting that adding splashes of lemon, lime and soda water can elevate your fruit-filled drink.
The Best Low-Calorie Alcoholic Drinks For Weight Loss
Need a quick tip sheet for ordering a drink without maxing your weight-loss goals? Here are the *best* drink orders that include each of most popular spirits and more, according to our pros.
- Vodka soda. Zero-calorie seltzer might be basic, but it also helps you stay within your calorie deficit and on track toward your weight-loss goals. Add a squeeze of fresh fruit for a little more party.
- Rum and diet cola. Rather than your go-to rum and regular cola, make it a diet to easily reduce calories and sugar.
- Rum and unsweetened black tea. Here’s an alternative for people who don’t want to drink any kind of cola — make it a rum and unsweetened black tea, Gorin recommends. One cup of unsweetened black tea will only add about two calories to your drink.
- Manhattan. Don Draper was on to something. If you don’t want to drink your whiskey straight, order a classic Manhattan (whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters), which keeps calories, carbs and sugars low.
- Gin martini. Channeling your inner Bond will serve you well if you’re looking to lose weight. A gin martini with two olives is under 200 calories and contains virtually no sugar or carbs.
- Paloma: The tangy pink drink, made with grapefruit and lime juice, is like a margarita without the extra calories. Opt for the fresh-squeezed stuff if you can rather than juice.
- Champagne, seltzer and fruit. A 4-ounce glass of bubbly isn’t much — but you can fill up the rest of your flute with seltzer and fresh fruit or mint leaves for a drink that’s yummy and low-cal.
- Light beer. Opt for a light beer instead of the regular thing.
- Red wine. Nutritionally, there’s not much difference between red wine and white wine, but there are other benefits in choosing a pinot noir over a chardonnay. Gorin says red wine might have some nutritional positives, like a possible boost to cardiovascular health.
- Baileys and coffee. Gorin says adding a 1.5-ounce shot of Baileys to a cup of decaf-only, since coffee is both tasty and almost a no-cal.
- Tequila and lime splash. Vodka or tequila with a splash of lime, lemon or grapefruit juice, and soda is a great option for a little bit of kick and juice taste.
- Vodka and mint, cucumber and a lime wedge. Here’s a refreshing drink for you — take muddled mint and cucumber, fresh lime juice and mix with vodka for a super-refreshing order.
- Margarita mixup. You can ask for specialty cocktails without the sugar, Meshulam says. For example, you can get a reduced-sugar margarita by asking for no agave.
- Margarita on the rocks. “Take a pass on fancy frozen drinks like daiquiris and order your margarita on the rocks,” says Gans.
- Liquor with a wedge. “Take tequila, vodka or gin with club soda or seltzer,” says Gans. Then, add a single fruit wedge like grapefruit, lemon or lime on the side.