Creative hipster drinks are all the rage! Mixologists are tempting patrons with trendy delicious, refreshing and sometimes healthy-sounding concoctions, but chances are they are laden with unnecessary calories that can really add up.
Those looking to reduce calorie intake often focus on being mindful of which foods to scale back on, but finely tuning your beverage radar is just as important. Alcohol delivers empty calories and no nutritional value, but the calorie culprit in many mixed drinks is, you guessed it, sugar! When compared to a can of cola which provides about 40 grams of sugar, a martini-glass sized Cosmo has 22 grams of sugar, a classic Mojito has 37 grams, and a 15-oz. Long-Island Iced Tea has a whopping 60 grams of sugar. Add in the calories from the alcohol and you’ve got more than an average-sized cheeseburger!
Different types of libations pack varying levels of calories, a pint of beer is around 150 calories, a glass of red wine is about 125 and a shot of tequila, vodka or whiskey is about 100 calories. Ounce for ounce, champagne has the fewest calories with about 80 for every four ounces, an average beer has fewer calories per ounce but it is unlikely for most people to drink just 4 oz of beer! In addition to the empty calories and risks associated with consuming excessive alcoholic beverages, moderate consumption can stimulate appetite….think late night French Fries!
Alcohol aside, high-calorie culprits lurk in other types of drinks such as smoothies and coffee drinks. At the coffee shop, order the smallest size available and forgo the calorically offensive flavored syrup and skip the whip to save calories. As for smoothies, beware of any ingredients with added sugar, the fruit is naturally sweet enough!
Now that you know the caloric impact that your beverage choice can make, what are some options that you might consider for keeping beverage calories in check, whether at home or when out at your favorite watering hole?
- Plain, old water is the least caloric and best way to stay hydrated! If you’re a tad bored by this thirst-quenching option, try flavoring your water with a slice of cucumber, strawberry or citrus fruit.
- If bubbles make you feel fancier, try ordering a sparkling water with a squeeze of lime or a dash of 100% juice.
- For a “splash” of flavor try adding fruits to your ice cubes, some good options are berries and grapes or just frozen cubes of watermelon.
- Steer clear of sodas, teas, juice, energy drinks, mocktails or cocktails that have added sugar. Diet soda might be a lower calorie choice, but habitual consumption of both sugary soda and diet soda are associated with greater risk of metabolic syndrome and obesity.
- Try tea. Both black and green tea are loaded with antioxidants and can contribute to hydration needs served either hot or cold, herbal tea is also a good option if you’d rather stay away from caffeine.
- Try unsweetened coconut water. It naturally contains electrolytes and can help replenish fluids after light exercise.
If you’re looking to be mindful of your beverage choices and want to rethink your drink, here are a couple of favorite slim summer sips (mocktail & cocktail versions) that you might want to try!
- Watermelon Juice: For 1 cup of yum, simply blend 2-3 cups of watermelon chunks then strain and pour over ice for a super hydrating, delicious summer sip!
- Watermelon Mimosa: Remember that Champagne is low-cal compared to many other alcohol containing beverages? Simply add equal parts of strained watermelon juice and bubbly to a Champagne flute and enjoy an elegant and refreshing drink to celebrate summer.
- Coco-Limeade: Mix the juice of one lime with 1 tsp of Agave nectar and a cup of unsweetened coconut water in a shaker cup or blender and pour over ice, garnish with mint leaves and a wedge of lime.
- Coco-Lime Margarita: Add 1 shot of silver tequila to the above and serve in a margarita glass, rimmed with lime juice and salt (optional), lots more flavor and lots less sugar than a traditional margarita!
Marci Clow, MS, RDN, writes on behalf of Rainbow Light
NOTE: The opinions expressed in bylined articles are not necessarily those of the publisher.
Posted on WholeFoods Magazine Online, 8/15/2016