The best low calorie cocktails that are all under 200 calories per serving are mojito (168 calories), dry martini (176 calories), paloma (166 calories), gin and tonic (148 calories).
Alcohol provides 7 calories per gram which is more than carbohydrates and protein which are 4 calories per gram. Therefore, drinking alcohol calories can add up fairly quickly.
Drinking multiple cocktails can add unassuming calories because cocktails often have sugar added in addition to alcohol. These two factors can add up calories quickly.
For any alcohol consumption, drink the moderate dose of 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks a day for men.
Alcohol portion size is arguably the most important factor on impact of calories and how the drink will affect the body.
When you are trying to choose a low calorie cocktail, one of the simplest ways to avoid a high calorie impact is choosing a drink with minimal sugar (or syrup) added.
This in addition to consuming a smaller portion size can greatly impact the calorie content in a drink.
See also: Low calorie alcoholic drinks.
Best low calorie cocktails
If you do drink, make sure to drink the recommended intake. At dinner parties and other social gatherings, refills for cocktails and alcohol can be poured before you even finish your first glass.
Therefore, it can be easy to drink more than you think. For the lowest calorie cocktails, minimize sugar intake and stick with smaller portion sizes.
The following are the best low calorie cocktails that are all under 200 calories per serving:
- Mojito– make it a mint mojito to add flavor without extra sugar. Using extra lime or other real fruit flavors can add flavor without using sugary syrup (168 calories)
- Dry martini– By keeping a martini dry, you will get less vermouth and more liquor (176 calories)
- Paloma– A paloma is a lower sugar/calorie version of a margarita. A paloma can be made with tequila, soda water, grapefruit juice and lime juice (166 calories)
- Gin and tonic – A classic cocktail (148 calories)
Other options to make cocktails lower in calories include:
- Skipping the extra sugar (or salt) on the rim of the glass
- Using low calorie/sugar mixes for cocktails
- Use sparkling or soda water in place of some of the alcohol
- Opt for a serving of champagne or wine. Just make sure the serving is 5 ounces or less instead of filling up a wine glass which can be easily over 5 ounces.
Alcohol and metabolism
Does alcohol consumption slows down metabolism?
When you consume alcohol, it becomes the priority for your metabolism. Alcohol acts as a toxin, and the body can’t store it.
The body needs to metabolize it right away, and anything else that was being metabolized is put on hold.
Author Dr. Peeke in a February 2013 Health.com article (1) suggests some research has found drinking alcohol can decrease fat burn in the belly area.
Alcohol’s impact on metabolism appears to not be favorable for weight loss, but research studies have found the relationship between alcohol and weight regulation is sometimes paradoxical.
For example, a 2012 study (2) concluded light to moderate drinking is not associated with weight gain in women. This inverse relationship has also been demonstrated in other studies.
However, drinking more than the light to moderate dose can increase risk for weight gain. It could be light to moderate drinking may allow for compensating in cutting back food intake.
However, when you drink too much, inhibition can lower which can lead to greater food intake.
Drinking cocktails with sugar can also promote a surge and crash of blood sugar which can also stimulate appetite.
The effect alcohol has on metabolism is complex and can vary individually. In general, alcohol is metabolized as a priority in the body and can hinder fat burn especially in the stomach area.
However, some studies suggest light to moderate drinking, especially in women, may not lead to weight gain. Other lifestyle factors like exercise patterns and the rest of your diet can influence your weight balance.
Avoid high calorie cocktails
Here are some cocktails that are notoriously higher in calories. If you are looking for low calorie cocktails, avoid these options.
These options can easily be over 200 calories just for one serving.
- Pina Colada
- Chocolate martini
- Coffee liquor
- Hot buttered rum
- Hot chocolate with schnapps
- Mai Tai
- White Russian
If you are not sure if a drink will be high in calories, ask your server/bar tender what is in custom cocktails.
If you ask them for a lower calorie/sugar drink, they should be able to steer you to what drinks would fit this option.
Portion size for cocktails
If you know you want to splurge and drink a higher calorie drink, compensate by cutting back a little on your food intake.
One of the reasons why light to moderate drinkers do not have an increased risk for weight gain is because they may compensate for alcohol calories by eating a little less during the meal.
Portion control can be the biggest factor between alcohol intake and calories. The more you drink, obviously the more calories, but also the more you may be apt to eat more unhealthy foods.
Food intake with alcohol
You may think you can save yourself some calories by not eating before you drink. This may actually have the opposite effect you intend it to. Health experts suggest if you are drinking alcohol, make sure you are eating a balanced, nutrient dense meal with your alcohol.
If you don’t eat while drinking, alcohol may enter your blood stream earlier. Your appetite may be increased after drinking some cocktails because blood sugar spikes up then comes crashing down from the sugar content. This can promote appetite and eating more food.
What should you eat while drinking a cocktail? The same as any balanced meal: a combination of fiber sources, lean proteins and heart healthy fats.
If you know you’re not going to eat right away with drinking a cocktail, eat a balanced snack before you go out to maintain blood sugar levels.
Image source: Liquor.com