Everyone knows that alcohol is the first thing you should give up if you’re trying to shed some weight — and with summer coming up, we’re all looking for fast fixes. Alcohol possesses the unfortunate combination of being high in calories while also inhibiting or reducing your body’s ability to burn fat. In other words, your body is forced to store excess alcohol calories as fat, which makes sugary drinks one of the worst offenders ever.
But not all alcoholic drinks are created equal. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you want to imbibe, but also want to minimize the damage done.
1. Let’s begin with booze.
Every bottle is different, but as a general rule of thumb, it’s better to stick with standard types of alcohol — vodka, gin, tequila, whiskey or scotch. All of these options have zero carbs and have fewer calories that cream-based liqueurs, like Baileys, or those with flavors added. One shot of vodka contains only about 97 calories, while gin has about 110. Most whiskey and scotch are in that range, too.
2. take it neat.
The fewer the ingredients in your glass, the less damage you’re likely doing. That means cutting out the sugary fruit juices, the high-calorie sodas and the pre-made mixes. The best option is to order your spirit neat or over ice. This encourages sipping, so you’re likely to drink less, too.
3. or opt for healthy mixers.
Sometimes you might want more of a drink than a whiskey neat. There are plenty of healthy ingredients you can add for more flavor. Replace sugary soda, simple syrups and fruit juices (pineapple juice can cost you 133 calories!), for seltzer or club soda — both which have zero calories. Unsweetened green tea, coconut water or even muddled fresh ingredients like raspberries, mint or citrus are great for making your alcohol more palatable. Fresh cucumber slices or jalapeño slices are great, too.
And remember to skip the tonic wanter. Tonic can have nearly as many calories as soda, but seltzer is essentially just calorie-free fizzy water.
4. Pay attention to portions.
It only makes sense — consumer fewer, small drinks and be healthier. Large drinks often including more than one shot of alcohol and a laundry list of unhealthy, high-calorie ingredients.
5. avoid crowds.
It’s worth knowing that a 2015 study done by the University of California, San Francisco found that people consume more drinks per hour if they’re out with a large group. So if you’re trying to keep your drinking down, large groups aren’t likely to help your cause.
6. alternate drinks with water.
If you’re drinking alcohol all night long, your night out is essentially a running clock of calories. But if you alternate alcoholic beverages with a tall glass of water, you’ll stay better hydrated, have less of a hangover, and extend the length of your evening without running up your calorie count. It can also give you a bit of a breather to assess how tipsy you are, and remind you that maybe you don’t need another drink after all.
7. don’t forget food.
The worst offending calorie crime scenes sometimes don’t even happen until after the drinking is done. End-of-night inhibitions are low and that 2 a.m. pepperoni pizza can set you back hundreds of calories and loads of fat. Remember to eat a healthy meal before or even while you’re out if it’s early enough, and you won’t be tempted to gorge at the taco truck later on.