We’re finally knee-deep into the summer months. This likely means lots of summer BBQ’s, gatherings, parties…and alcoholic beverages.

It may not surprise you that consuming alcoholic beverages can be a big contributor to weight gain. Sure, we can avoid the summer beer belly with sobriety. However, if this isn’t realistic for you, let’s discuss what smarter beverage options look like.

A number of alcoholic beverages come with a sugar price tag; often as high as a sugary dessert. Not only do they send your blood sugars sky-high, but they can result in that nasty hangover as well! Let me help you pick wisely.

Fruity Beverages & Cocktails

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Drink This

  • Raspberry-infused vodka, club soda, and a splash of lime and cranberry juice.
  • Lighter moscow mule with ginger beer, vodka, lime juice and lots of ice, skipping the simple syrup.
  • Kombucha + vodka – do something good for your gut while boozing. Be careful to read the labels of your kombucha though – some can be super high in sugar. Aim for a kombucha with 6 grams of sugar or less per serving.

Not That

  • Standard coolers, including regular Palm Bay, Bacardi Breezers, Smirnoff Ice, etc can contain anywhere from 7-14 teaspoons of sugar per serving!
  • Frozen margaritas, frozen daiquiris, frozen coladas are all calorie bombs. And yes, even on vacation. Have a margarita on the rocks versus a frozen margarita, which has more sugar and calories.

Spirits

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Drink This

  • Stick with clear spirits, like vodka, tequila and gin (liqueurs like amaretto, rum or crème de Menthe usually have sugar added). My favourite combo is Vodka/Tequila + soda water + lime
  • There seem to be growing number of sparkling water beverage choices on the market, that can be a great choice. My favourite is Social Lite vodka – 80 calories and 0 grams of sugar without added artificial sweeteners!

Not That

  • Sprite/7-up/Coke (or any kind of pop) + Vodka. You’re getting 10 tsp of sugar per can.
  • Vodka Tonic. There is a huge misconception that seltzer and tonic are the same. Mixed with soda [seltzer] and a lime, a vodka soda is the much slimmed-down version of a vodka tonic in which the tonic mix adds 80 calories from sugar per eight ounces.
  • Creamy liquers. Each shot of hard liquor is about 100-130 calories; but once you add the mixer for the shot (sugar, cream, etc.), you’ll most likely double or calories at least. Stick with hard alcohol such as vodka, whiskey, gin, and rum, which after distilling have nothing left but the alcohol and no carbs.
  • We all know the rule that you shouldn’t mix energy drinks and alcohol—but many people still do. Take the risk-to-your-heart warnings seriously. In addition, energy drinks—even the sugar-free ones—are more often than not packed with chemical-y concoctions, caffeine, calories, and all sorts of additives.

Wine/Champagne

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Drink This

  • Red wine, preferably a pinot noir has high concentration of antioxidants including polyphenols, flavonoids, and resveratrol (an antioxidant). Resveratrol is believed to have heart health benefits as it helps prevent blood vessel damage and reduces your bad cholesterol.
  • ‘Ultra Brut champagne’ is the same as “no added sugar” in the nutrition world. And that means fewer calories (and a lower chance of a pesky hangover the next day). Champagne in general is a great choice because you drink it slower due to the bubbles.

Not That

  • Wines with the highest amount of sugar include Rieslings, Moscatos, Eisweins, Sauternes and Ports.
  • Beware of wine coolers, sangrias, etc. They pack on the sugars! If you’re looking for a fun wine beverage, mix wine with sparkling water and add lemon or lime instead!


Cider/Beers

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Drink This

  • Pick your ciders wisely! The sugar content varies significantly depending on the brand. Strongbow is a better choice – each has 9 grams of sugar in a 12 ounce bottle. Michelob Ultra “light” cider is sweetened with stevia, a plant-based sweetener, rather than the artificial stuff used in most other “light” products
  • Beer can be high in carbohydrates, so light beers can be a great choice. Michelob Ultra has 95 calories and 3 grams of carbohydrates per bottle.

Not That

  • There are a number of sugary ciders, including sommersby
  • A 12 oz. Budweiser contains 147 calories and 11 grams of carbohydrates, and many people who enjoy beer are used to having two or more in one sitting since it doesn’t contain much alcohol relative to other spirits. Choosing a light beer does make a difference, but be careful to not use the lower caloric load as justification for drinking more.

Additional Tips:

  1. HIIT It After a hangover: I know—working out during a hangover sounds like the worst idea ever, but it’s actually the best. High-intensity interval workouts keep your blood pumping and help your body with the detoxification process. Don’t feel like a HIIT workout? Even a brisk walk will help. Some movement will help your body speed up the metabolizing of the alcohol.
  2. Whatever your sipper of choice, drink it slowly and mindfully. Keep in mind that alcohol not only makes you hungrier but it also lowers inhibitions and makes you care less about what you’re eating, too, so temptations can get out of hand!
  3. Alternate water with your beverages, to reduce the amount of alcohol you’re consuming and boost hydration levels.

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