‘Tis the season for celebratory sippers—but anyone who’s been on a weight-loss or a weight-maintenance plan knows how quickly those cups of cheer can add up and make weight-loss more difficult to achieve.
Take your classic holiday cocktails such as spiked eggnog, hot toddies, Christmas punch or mulled wine and you’ve got yourself a calorie- and sugar-bomb in a cup. Just a single serving of spiked eggnog contains 374 calories, 12 grams of fat and 38 grams of sugar. Indulge in a few of those bad boys and you might even reach your daily calorie quota.
Luckily, not all cocktails are created equal and you don’t have to forgo all adult beverages in order to stay on track with your weight-loss efforts this holiday.
Here are 8 healthier, low-cal drink swaps to choose:
1. Dry Wine Instead of Sweet Wine
When buying or ordering wine you might assume that they are all the same as far as calories and sugar content goes but the difference between a dry and sweet wine is about 50 calories per glass. For sugar, you’ll find approximately 1.4 grams of sugar per glass in a dry wine compared to as high as 17 grams in a sweet wine. That’s because dry wines ferment longer, reducing their sugar content while sweet wines ferment for less time, resulting in more sugar per glass. Always choose dry wine over sweet and aim for 6 grams or less per liter.
2. Prosecco Instead of White Wine
If you want to whittle the sugar and calorie counts down even more, replace a glass of white wine with prosecco. A 9-ounce glass of white wine will run you about 209 calories, while prosecco clocks in at a modest 85. A great choice for a healthier holiday toast.
3. A Gin Sonic Instead of a G&T
If you’re a fan of G&Ts but not all the sugar that comes with them, we’ve got an easy solution. Cut the sugar in half by mixing one part tonic and one part soda water for a low-calorie version that still satisfies. A traditional G&T contains 170 calories, while a gin sonic only packs 115 calories. You’ll also save more than 11 grams of sugar with this simple switch.
4. A Spirit and Seltzer Cocktail Instead of a Spirit and Soda (or Juice)
This one may be the easiest swap of all. Trade any sweetened mixers—think sodas and juices—for an unsweetened mixer like flavored seltzer or sparkling or flat water. It may take some getting used to but the simple swap will save you anywhere from 10 to 15 grams of sugar per drink, which adds up fast when you have more than one.
5. A Skinny Margarita Instead of Regular Margarita
If you’re a fan of margs, this one’s for you. According to the USDA, a typical margarita packs 274 calories, 36 grams of carbs and 36 grams of sugar—yikes! But a “skinny margarita” made with seltzer or club soda and stevia instead of sugar—or no sugar at all—cuts all of that in half.
6. Unsweetened Hard Seltzer Instead of Canned Cocktails
The canned cocktail craze is a massive trend enjoyed by many, but not all canned concoctions are created equal. With endless canned bevvies to choose from, it’s key to check the label and pick one that is entirely unsweetened and only flavored with flavored seltzer or uses stevia or monk fruit—both calorie-free sweeteners. What’s the difference? 0 to 2 grams of sugar per can of unsweetened hard seltzer compared to 12 to 40 grams for sweetened cocktails in a can.
7. A Bottle of Beer Instead of a Pint
This one simply comes down to volume. Skip the beer belly by opting for bottled beer over a pint anytime you order a beer. A pint of beer contains about 220 calories whereas a bottle is about half of that—and even less if you opt for light beer.
8. A Mocktail Instead of a Cocktail
If you really want to dial in your calories consumed and save it for something else this holiday season, like the dessert table, skip alcoholic beverages altogether and opt for a mocktail. Just remember that even mocktails can contain a lot of sugar so employ the tips above about choosing unsweetened mixers for all your mocktail orders.
5 More Tips for Smarter Sipping This Holiday Season
- Alternate between one alcoholic beverage and one glass of water—it’s good for hydration and preventing hangovers too!
- Set a drink limit ahead of time that fits into your daily macronutrient mix and stick with it.
- Ask for a tall glass—it will help dilute the alcohol and take you longer to finish.
- Pour yourself half as much and sip slowly.
- Abstain from alcohol in the days around your holiday gatherings for balance and to reduce your overall alcohol consumption.
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