July 05, 2013 Sally Bjornsen


Low-Calorie Summer Drinks?  Is that an Oxymoron?

With the summer season in full swing, it’s hard to say no to a cold drink on a hot afternoon especially when sitting beside a pool or enjoying a summer party. And once the festivities get going keeping track of how many refreshing cocktails you’ve had is like counting waves crashing on the sand. So how do you manage to be part of the party but not diving in head first to a 1,000 calorie evening? While it’s fun to imbibe in fancy cocktails now and then we all know that excessive use of alcohol robs the skin of its luster, makes a girl fat and can destroy the liver. There are several low-calorie summer drinks that are easier on the body and the skin.

So what’s a fashionable girl to do short of going cold turkey on a hot day? We suggest learning about which cocktails are the most “fit friendly,” and following it with a tall glass of water with lemon or lime. My drink of choice is tonic water with lime or a virgin bloody Mary. These drinks make me feel like I’m not missing out while keeping me fit and sober.

May we also suggest some “pre-planning.” Before leaving for the party or event have a strategy and lots of non-alcoholic options at the ready. If you do want to have a cocktail or two may we suggest a few lighter options?

Mojito — made with white rum, sugar, lime, mint and soda water — is naturally low in calories, but you can make it even more waistline-friendly by cutting down on the amount of both rum and sugar that you put into yours and upping the soda water. As an added bonus, you’ll have less of a hangover than everyone else.

Champagne is another lower-calorie drink. One glass of bubbly averages around 90 calories — not bad for something that’s just so darn refreshing. To make it a bit more fruity, enjoy it with a splash of juice. Champagne and orange juice — known, of course, as a mimosa — is one of the few drinks that you can get away with sipping before noon.

Some recent reports claim that beer is one of the healthiest alcoholic beverages out there since it’s said to contain not only fiber but “important vitamins and minerals” too. Regardless of whether those claims hold true or not, beer isn’t actually as bad for you as we’ve been led to believe. Sure, a full pint can sometimes be close to 200 calories, but drinking bottled beer is a great way to watch your portions. In fact, some light beers even have as little as 55 calories. If light beer sounds like blasphemy to you, try drinking a cold Guinness (just 125 calories!) — one study found it to be good for the heart.

Sangria is another summertime favorite. Made with red wine, brandy, fruit juice, fresh fruit and soda water, it’s chock full of healthy antioxidants and nutrients. Sangria can have as little as 80 calories, but many restaurants and bars will bump that up with extra sweeteners, so if calories are your main concern, consider making your own — at least then you can trade sugar-laden fruit juice for extra fresh fruit. If you’re not big on giant chunks of orange floating around in your drink, try a low-maintenance white wine spritzer — it’s just wine mixed with soda water.

Bloody Mary is good for you on so many levels. Not only is the tomato juice packed with lycopene, but the spices can help speed up your metabolism. Enjoy it with a stalk of celery and you’ve practically got yourself a salad in a glass — with vodka, of course.

Cape Codder — made with three ounces of vodka, nine ounces of cranberry juice and a wedge of lime — is another refreshing summertime favorite, and can be made with diet cranberry juice to lighten it up. Or better yet, trade half of the cranberry juice (look for brands with no added sugar) for soda water and you’ll have a fizzy, light drink fit for any summer porch on Cape Cod.

Come to think of it, diet anything mixed in with a clear liquor can be a favorite low-calorie summertime go-to drink. Try a light Cuba Libre (diet cola, white rum, and lime wedges), a diet Gin and Tonic (gin, diet tonic and lime) or a sugar-free Tom Collins (gin, lemon juice, Splenda and club soda) on your next visit to the sun lounger. Just remember, diet substitutes don’t always quench your cravings, and your brain may still want the real deal — causing you to sip more drinks over all than if you had one with regular sugar.

What drinks should you avoid? Long Island Iced TeasPina Coladas, and restaurant-style (read: lots of sour mix) margaritas are three of the biggest calorie offenders with up to 520, 644, and 740 calories respectively.




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