Think Before You Drink! Conscious Cocktail Choices.

Thanks to our lovely Fearless Fitness Readers for bringing us our first….


Q: “I enjoy Happy Hour with my co-workers and going out with my friends on weekends. What can I do to enjoy a night out without a cocktail calorie catastrophe?”

A: A night on the town can do serious damage to your diet. But, happy hour doesn’t have to be a diet downer. With a little planning and alcohol understanding you won’t need to miss out on a fun evening!

It is easy to overdo it on alcohol calories. When it comes to alcoholic drinks, sometimes the calories don’t register. Sadly, some drinks have more calories than a McDonald’s grilled chicken sandwich. Makes sense, when 1 gram of alcohol has 7 calories, compared with only 4 calories for a gram of carbohydrates or protein.

The occasional cocktail won’t result in a bulging beer belly – be smart and you can  keep the calories in alcoholic drinks from adding up. Use these tips from the experts to keep your cocktail calories at bay! (thanks to:

1. Alternate alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks to save calories. After one cocktail, glass of wine or beer, have a “mocktail” — a nonalcoholic, preferably zero-calorie beverage (like sparkling water with a lime) that looks like the real thing. This strategy not only reduces the risk of over-consuming calories and alcohol, but it also helps you stay hydrated so your head will thank you in the morning!

2. Choose wine, light beer, or simple cocktails made with low-calorie mixers. Just as you might order your salad with dressing on the side, don’t be shy about asking for your cocktail your way.

Mix cocktails with water, club soda, low calorie juices, artificial sweeteners or sugar-free syrups for easy calorie savings. Fruit and vegetable juices can be good choices because they are lower in calories than some other mixers and also contain disease-preventing antioxidants. Still, be careful of fruit juices because even though they are more nutritious, the calories can add up quickly.

Some mixers that won’t pack on the pounds include:

  • Diet soda, soda water, or diet tonic: 0 calories
  • Orange juice (6 oz): 84 calories
  • Cranberry juice cocktail (8 oz): 136 calories
  • Light orange juice (8 oz): 50 calories
  • Light cranberry juice (8 oz): 40 calories
  • Light lemonade (8 oz): 5 calories
  • Coffee, tea: 0 calories
  • Baja Bob’s sugar-free margarita or sweet ‘n’ sour mix: 0 calories
  • Lemon or lime juice (1/2 oz): 10 calories
  • DaVinci or Torani’s sugar-free syrups: 0

3. Skip the mixer altogether. Try ordering your favorite spirit or one of the new flavored liquors on the rocks. Infused vodkas are  popular  – they are not sweetened,  infused with flavors (like  jalapeno or  peach), and don’t add any extra calories.

4. Dilute your drink. Another option is diluting your drink with club soda or sparkling water. Wine spritzers are a low-calorie standby. And if you usually drink vodka and cranberry, for example, try it with club soda, just a splash of cranberry juice, and a squeeze of lime. Garnish with a wedge of citrus or pineapple to add flavor and few calories.

5. Have a game plan. Before heading out to the cocktail party or happy hour, make sure you have a game plan. Decide in advance the number of cocktails you are going to drink and cut back on calories during the day in anticipation. Eat a light snack before you go so you won’t get tipsy with the first drink and be tempted to dive into the food. Always be aware of your own personal limits. Don’t drink too much, and, of course, don’t drink and drive.

All that being said, when you belly up to the bar – what are the BEST and WORST cocktail choices?


1. Margarita:
This one drink can have up to 750 calories and 56 g carbs. Substitute it for a tequila on the rocks with a splash of lime.

2. Long Island Iced Tea:
A long Island Iced Tea has about 750 calories 44 g carb. Try rum mixed with Diet Coke and topped with a slice of lime; it will save you more than 600 calories.

3. Pina Colada:
The Pina Colada comes in at a whopping 650 calories and 90 g carbs. Instead, substitute this  with vanilla-flavored vodka and Diet Coke/Sprite, and you’ll save yourself more than 500 calories.

4. Cosmo:
The Cosmo may only have 150 calories and 10 g carbs,  but this sweet drink is too easy to enjoy quickly. It’s too hard not to order more…. turning the cosmo into a costly cocktail.  Try vodka with a splash of cranberry juice  instead.


1. Gin and Tonic, Vodka and Tonic or Rum and Diet Coke:
All three of these only have 65 cal per 8 oz. glass!  When you drink a one-ounce pour of most liquors and top them off with a non-calorie mixer, you have a drink that’s pretty low in calories, no matter what the combination. Whether you choose gin, vodka, whiskey or rum, top it off with a mixer that adds nothing: club soda, Diet Coke or diet tonic waters. Make them special with infused alcohol flavors, baby splashes of juice or sugar-free syrups.

2. Mimosa:
Half champagne and half orange juice, the Mimosa is at its best when made with the freshest-squeezed juice imaginable for only 75 cal per 4 oz. champagne glass.

3. Kahlua and Coffee:
Surprisingly this classic cocktail can fulfill your alcohol needs and your caffeine needs with substantially less calories: 91 cal per 6 oz. Kahlua is the most famous brand of coffee-flavored liqueur, but any type will do, and the addition of coffee adds zero calories.

4. White Wine Spritzer:
The concept of the spritzer is simple: white wine mixed in equal proportions with club soda, but depending on the wine you use, it can be refreshingly pleasing and only 100 cal per 5 oz. glass.

5. Martini:
Martinis are practically straight liquor, but shaken with ice and an aromatic splash of vermouth, they have a cocktail sensibility for 160 cal per 2.5 oz. glass. The taste can be strong for a drinker who likes more flavorful drinks, but the flavor can be enhanced with infused liquors at a cost of zero extra calories.

Hope this information helps next time your friends invite you on a fun evening out. CHEERS to you learning to be a more conscious of your cocktail calories!  Enjoy…. and as always drink responsibly!


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