We all want to have a little cheer around the holidays. And whether you’re in tip-top shape or not, a little alcohol can make your celebrations a little bit cheerier. However, when you’ve worked hard to get into (or maintain your) shape all year, you don’t want to throw away your progress over a few high-caloric drinks. But what if you could have a holiday drink or two without worrying that you’re going to blow your nutritional plan? And what if you want to continue your workout routine the next day after a holiday party? Well, you’re in luck! The following is a great guide to choosing your celebratory booze with our follow-up guide on surviving the party and recouping so you can continue exercising afterward (check out Alcohol and Exercise Over the Holidays) so you can have your holiday cheer without the fear!
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Before we get into the fun stuff, we need to go over the facts about alcohol. If you’ve chosen to drink responsibly, your next step is deciding what to drink so that you’re not throwing your waistline away on happy hour. Overall, alcohol is empty calories which has approximately 7 calories per gram. Consuming it frequently does have a negative impact on muscle gain and weight loss. This is because when alcohol is processed by the liver, it breaks down into a substance called acetate. Acetate is a toxin, therefore, your body processes this before anything else. The digestion of carbs and proteins is then halted until all alcohol is cleared from the body.
Now, after saying all that, here is the good news! Alcohol in moderation will not prevent you from reaching your goals. In fact, alcohol in moderation has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of hypertension due to its high thermic effect. Yay! Now let’s get into the fun stuff!
THE BOOZE TO CHOOSE
To start off with, there are several drinks you can enjoy this holiday without the fear of adding too many cocktail calories.
- Gizmodo refers to vodka and soda as one of the most low-calorie drinks, but also points out that you may die from boredom if you’re blazing this single-mixer all night long! A step up from there as far as taste is the classic Bloody Mary. Some people avoid this tomato-based drink because it’s heavier in carbs, but the cocktail boasts low calories for the win! It also delivers up electrolytes, water, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and a host of other potential nutrients that give you some health benefits while potentially helping avoid a hangover.
- Whiskey and Gin
- Packing a lot of flavors into only a few more calories than vodka, you’ll want to go this route neat or on the rocks. A warning here though! Don’t add sugary mixes (such as Whiskey Sour or Sweet and Sour mix) or you’ve defeated the entire purpose of taking this path. An added psychological life-hack benefit is when you order these drinks neat, you’re much more likely to sip and make it last.
- Wine, especially red, has some awesome health benefits on top of being easy to serve and order. Food and Wine reports that wine not only reduces your risk of heart attack, but reduces overall mortality, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cataracts, and colon cancer. It is also said to slow brain decline.
According to Medical Daily, the clearer the alcohol, the lower the calories. Keep that rule of thumb in mind!
DRINKS TO RETHINK
The most important issue is to remember that even if you take something healthier, like vodka, and mix it with sugary syrups, you’ve blown the ‘healthy’ part. According to LiveStrong.com, a White Russian, which is made with vodka, Kahlua, and cream, contains 500 calories. That’s about the same as a Big Mac. What else should you avoid? Have a look below:
- Most Mixed Drinks
- Most mixed drinks contain surgery syrups and other sweet ingredients that wreak havoc on your glycemic index and calorie count. Brandy Alexanders, Mai Tais, Margaritas, Daquiris, and anything that ends in “Sour” should be avoided or limited to just one drink. Stick to the straight and neat and you’ll do just fine.
- Sorry to say, but most beer contains a lot of calories. As taste increases (along with alcohol-by-volume, or ABV), so do the calories. So, if you like low-calorie beers like Michelob Ultra or Miller Lite, go for it. If you prefer an India pale ale or another brew, you may be out of luck. Aim for as low an ABV as you can find, but ultimately the carbs add up fast.
Per the CDC (in the vaunted Dietary Guidelines for Americans), it’s wise to limit the number of alcoholic drinks you have on any given day. For women, that means one drink, and for men, 2. The CDC refers to these limits as a ‘moderate’ amount. So, this holiday season, enjoy yourself and partake of alcoholic drinks in a responsible way. You can have a drink or two and still keep yourself in shape, especially if you’re able to keep up a holiday exercise routine this season (hit those morning burpees hard the day after)! You don’t have to wake up the next morning with festive regret, remember – straight and neat!
We’ve put together this neat holiday drink guide below to help you stay in tip-top shape, and enjoy a dose of cheer, heading into the New Year! Now! Now that you know which drinks to pick, head on over to part two of this series to follow up on how to take care of your body and exercise the next day after the holiday party!
Cheers and happy holidays from the Rock Springs team!
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