December 06, 2013 Sally Bjornsen


Healthy Holiday Cocktails?  You scoff — No, it’s not an oxymoron.  Yes you too can drink during the holidays without having to let your belt out.  I know it doesn’t sound easy, especially when everyone around you is imbibing.  With all the hard work taking care of ourselves during the year it’s a shame to blow the bank over one holiday season, that’s why I suggest a good cocktail strategy that will keep you slim and satisfied.  Nothing wrong with that.

So, here’s the scoop.  Most cocktails are filled with sugar and some with fat and sugar (a double whammy for a girl who wants to keep her weight in check). So be mindful of what’s in your cocktail glass before you embark on an evening of dining n drinking.  Here’s a little primer that might help you to stay on track.

What Makes Calories in Alcoholic Drinks Add Up?

The number of calories in mixed drinks depends on several things, including the amount and proof of the alcohol; the mixers; and the size of the drink.

“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, but mixologists can easily turn that into a drink with hundreds of calories,” says Carolyn O’Neil, MS, RD, co-author of The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous.

Whether you’re drinking a beer or a cosmo, the higher the alcohol content, the higher the calories, says O’Neil. For example:

  • 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

Alcohol adds empty calories and is converted to acetate that hampers your ability to burn fat.  Think of it this way: a hefty cocktail will double-cross you by cancelling out that heart pounding, fat-burning workout you enjoyed earlier in the day. And for you wine and beer drinkers keep in mind that an average 12-ounce domestic beer contains about 150 calories, the same as a 3.5 ounce glass of wine (I am not sure I have ever seen a 3.5 oz. glass of wine). When it comes to portion size, the average serving size of wine and alcoholic beverages is probably smaller than you think.  Remember that gold fish sized glass in your cupboard?  The one for red wine?  Well unless you like to see a puddle at the bottom of your glass, switch to something smaller so your 4-6 oz. feels more substantial. Just so you understand what 4-6 oz. look like pour some water into a wine glass ahead of time, before you head to a party. Get a sense so you can judge your intake accordingly. Beer, on the other hand, is more standardized in bottles and beer glasses.

Be sure to drink Drink plenty of water between your cocktails, and plan your weak spots in advance. 

Here are ten low-calorie cocktails you can enjoy guilt-free:

1.     Gin and Tonic

2.     Vodka & Sprite Zero ( or with a splash of pomegranate or cranberry juice)

3.     Appletini

4.     Mojito without the simple syrup or with Splenda syrup

5.     Tequila with lime juice and club soda

6.     Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut Champagne

7.     Watermelon Martini with agave nectar instead of simply syrup

8.     Margarita on the rocks (some leave out the Cointreau, add agave nectar and wasabi powder)

9.     White wine spritzer (diluted with water or club soda)

10.   Mimosa lite with lo-calorie fruit juice




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