How to drink alcohol while dieting

11:28 PM, Sep 23, 2010   |    comments
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TAMPA BAY, Florida - Millions of Americans diet.  Millions of Americans also drink.  And believe it or not, there's a way to safely do them both simultaneously.  But it's also easy to negate an entire day's worth of disciplined eating by drinking a few alcoholic beverages.

USF Health Dietitian Dr. Janie Norman has suggestions for adults who would like to enjoy alcoholic beverages but are concerned about their caloric intake.

  1. Drink in moderation.  "If someone has a glass of wine with dinner on the weekends, it's not a significant source of calories," Norman said.  One glass of wine (around 120 calories), beer (around 140 calories), or light beer (around 100 calories) can provide some adults health benefits without blowing their diets.
  2. Favor mixed drinks. Since all alcohol has 7 calories per gram, the calorie variations in drinks come from different amounts of alcohol, plus small amounts of carbs (4 cal/g), protein (4 cal/g), and fat (9 cal/g).  If you consume multiple drinks, the small amounts can add up.  However, pure alcohols like vodka, rum, tequila, gin, and whiskey don't have any carbs, protein, or fat, so favoring them (64 calories per 1-oz. serving) can help you cut calories.
  3. Watch your mixers! "(When) you add a mixer that has calories," said Norman, "the calories (of the drink) just skyrocket."  Sixty to 70% of the calories in many popular mixed drinks come from the mixers, not the alcohol.  Adding tonic (90 calories), cola (97 calories), or cranberry juice (137 calories) to an alcohol can turn an innocent drink evil.  Diet sodas (0 calories) or club sodas (0 calories) are much better choices.
  4. Dilute those mixed drinks. If you add water to a cocktail, you'll reduce the number of calories in each glass by reducing the amount of alcohol in it.  Norman says adding club soda/seltzer water to a glass of wine creates a refreshing wine spritzer with half the calories.
  5. Avoid sugary frozen drinks.  Simply put, the margarita is the sultan of sugar.  There's no standard formula for making a margarita or daiquiri, but the huge amounts of sugar included in most varieties push their calorie count well beyond 500 per drink.
  6. Eat before drinking.  Often, drinkers blow their diets not on alcohol, but on the food they consume while inebriated.  "People just say, 'forget it,'...and sit down and eat pizza," said Norman.  "A lot of the (bar) foods that go together with alcohol are just so high in calories."


One final piece of advice for drinkers and dieters alike: drink lots of water.  It will make you less hungry, less thirsty, and less hung-over the next morning.

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Noah Pransky, 10 News

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