If you’re trying to cut back on the calories (and/or on the carbs), one of the easiest ways to make this sacrifice is by watching what you drink—soda for sure, but also when it comes to alcoholic beverages.
Though this may sound like one of the more annoying places to make a sacrifice—you’re out to have a good time, after all—it’s actually much easier than you may think. We spoke with Rebekah Blakely, a registered dietitian at The Vitamin Shoppe, to get some tips about healthy substitutions at the bar (or at home).
Keep It Simple
First and foremost: A good general assumption is that the fewer ingredients the better. “Keep it simple—the more ingredients you add, the higher chance you’re going to be racking up the calories and sugar,” explains Blakely. “Choosing simple drinks such as hard liquor, wine, and light beers are usually lower calorie and healthier than mixed drinks.”
When it comes to hard liquors, Blakely suggests sticking to vodka, whiskey, and gin, which she says “usually contain about 100 calories per 1.5-ounce serving.”
If you’re more of a wine drinker, know that one serving is 5 ounces and typically contains around 100-150 calories per serving. Blakely also suggests red wine for the added health benefits of antioxidants.
Beer is the most caloric of the bunch, but if you stick to light beer, it will contain about the same amount of calories as the liquor—and once you factor in mixers, beer may actually come out lower in calories.
Related Reading: Zero-Proof Non-Alcoholic Cocktails for Dry January
If you’re also cutting carbs, the hard liquors have zero carbs (it’s the mixers that might trip you up), but wine and light beer all have around 3-4 grams of carbs per serving.
Mix With Caution
You really do need to watch out for those mixers.
“Cocktail mixers typically have a lot of sugar and/or artificial ingredients,” says Blakely. “To keep it healthier, use fresh fruit and club soda instead—not tonic water, which has quite a bit of sugar.” (Though you can buy sugar-free tonic water if you’re making drinks at home.)
“If you want to make it a little sweeter, stick with a natural sweetener such as stevia, monk fruit, or [a] tiny bit of raw honey, pure maple syrup, or agave nectar. You can also use a splash of 100 percent fruit juice (1-3-ounces only).”
Related Reading: The Best Zero-Calorie, Zero-Carb Sweetener We’ve Tried
Be Perfectly Clear
Finally, if you’re prone to hangovers or sensitive to the effects of alcohol, Blakely has a big tip: Stick to lighter-colored alcohol. “The darker the color, usually the more impurities and toxins the alcohol contains,” says Blakely.
Join the Seltzer Club
Hard seltzer has been having a moment, and it can be a great alternative to more caloric cocktails.
If refreshing is the name of your drinking game, look no further than this citrus-infused variety pack of Truly hard seltzers. They’re delicious, light, and calorie-free. This pack includes lime, lemon, orange, and grapefruit, so you won’t get bored.Buy Now
Healthier Mixers to Try
If you’re looking for a great, low-cal mixed drink to enjoy at home, Blakely shared a simple recipe that you can feel good about.
Sparkling Cranberry Vodka
- 1 1/2 ounces of vodka
- 2-3 ounces of pure cranberry juice
- 2-3 ounces of lime sparkling water
- fresh limes
- Mix the first three ingredients together.
- Add a splash of lime juice to taste.
- Garnish with a lime wedge.
Try these mixers too:
Simple syrup can really add a much needed pop to a good drink—and this version made from monk fruit comes out to a whopping zero calories and zero carbs. Add a dash to some vodka and sparkling water for a refreshing, low-cal drink.Buy Now
These cocktail mixers come in three amazing flavors that are all calorie-free and incredibly low-carb. They are sweetened using stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol, and they are the perfect way to recreate some of your favorite drinks. This variety pack comes with margarita, cucumber and mint, and ginger and lime. Cheers!Buy Now