Like ice cream, Cheetos and fast food lunches, booze is often pitched to the side when dieters go down the path toward a slimmer waistline in the new year.
The sad truth is, despite all of its documented wonders, alcohol just isn’t that good for you. And beyond the potential damage it can do to your liver, it also comes packed with plenty of carbohydrates, sugars and calories — three serious no-nos for anyone rocking a dutiful diet regimen.
But that doesn’t mean you have to entirely put the jug down when you’re shedding pounds. Treat alcohol like you do any other splurge — let yourself have it in moderation occasionally, and follow that up with a few extra-long days at the gym and a few days with a far-healthier menu.
And go ahead and follow these tips, too.
Nix the mix
While a shot of almost any standard 90-proof booze is gonna pack close to 100 calories, that’s not what will knock a dieting drinker off their game. The real enemy here is the enemy of many dieters, regardless of their fondness for the hard stuff. And that mortal foe is soda pop and the other assorted soft drinks that get mixed into so many cocktails.
Mix a shot of Bacardi with your Coke and you’re downing around 250 calories in that drink alone. Have two and a few nibbles of an appetizer at happy hour and your FitBit probably won’t ever look you in the eye again.
So skip the mixers, or at the very least choose them wisely. Soda water is a good bet, and zero-cal diet soda is a better choice than the full-strength colas.
But your best bet, if you simply need a little liquor on your journey to better fitness, is to skip all of that and just take your booze on the rocks.
Reach for the low-cal
One perk for a dieter wandering the liquor store’s aisles: You know pretty quickly you aren’t alone.
From super low-cal and low-carb beers like Michelob Ultra to SkinnyGirl Vodka, there are ample offerings aimed squarely at the drinker on a diet. But as with any diet product, you sacrifice some flavor along with those calories.
That obviously means ultra-light beers don’t pack much flavor, but it means something else, too: they come with a lower-than-ideal alcohol content. Those SkinnyGirl vodkas, for example, don’t reach the standard 90-proof alcohol content that their full-caloried brethren do. And when it comes to beers, many of the light beers are closer to the 3.2-percent ABV than a more typical ABV of 5 percent or higher.
Booze can be even worse than other diet non-nos because of the way the body metabolizes it — your digestive system sees alcohol as a poison and goes to work on it first, before tackling the other calories you’ve consumed.
So the best bet, generally, is for dieters to really limit the amount of alcohol they down. One easy way to do that is fill your tummy with something else. Water is the best bet here, so between drinks, force yourself to down a hefty glass of water. Not only does it help you process the alcohol, it could leave you feeling too full to reach for another.
Another good bet is to start slow. If you are headed to a cocktail party or to happy hour with friends, don’t order that cocktail right off the bat. Reach for something without the booze — soda water with a lime is a good bet if you don’t want your friends nagging you about not drinking — to start the night, and only order something harder later on.