Cocktail nutrition

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALadies, are summer cocktails sabotaging your diet?

Whether you prefer pina coladas, daiquiris, mai tais, gin and tonic, mint juleps, margaritas or some house speciality, you could be guzzling 800-1000 calories in a single evening.  Cocktail calories come from:

  • Liquors and liqueres
  • Soft drink mixers
  • Syrups
  • Sugar and other sweeteners
  • Fruit juices
  • Drink Mixes

Then there’s portion distortion.  In our age of super sizing, cocktails are just another opportunity to attract customers with giant portions.  While a “standard” drink recipe might result in a modest little cocktail that fits into a standard cocktail glass (8-10 oz and that includes the ice cubes), super sized cocktails are pushing 12 to 16 oz.   Or more.

Take this mai tai.  A standard recipe for “1” serving comes to about ¾ cup of liquid. So if you’re counting calories and you figure your mai tai has about 220 calories based on a standard recipe, think again.  Your actual drink might be twice that size, like the one in the photo, now over 400 calories.  Drink 3 or 4 of those every week and you’re going to gain weight, or sabotage your diet efforts.   Two sizable cocktails twice a week adds up to an extra 2 lbs of weight per month.

Is the solution artificially sweetened mixers (yuck)?  That would only affect soft drinks and some mixers, not the fruit juices, sweeteners and syrups used to make some drinks.  There is no such thing as low calorie alcohol.  Worse, research suggests that combining alcohol with artificially sweetened mixers makes the alcohol more potent, making you drunk faster, potentially a dangerous situation.

So what is the solution?  After all, you want to enjoy your vacation or hang out with friends.  Here are some tips:

  • Limit yourself to one cocktail.  Beyond that, drink club soda.
  • Forget cocktails unless it’s a really special occasion.  Drink wine, lite beer, white wine spritzers, or club soda with lime.
  • Sip slowly.  Order water along with your cocktail and drink water in between every sip.
  • If cocktails come in sizes, order the small size.
  • Share with some other like-minded (read: sensible) companion.

Remember: too much alcohol has it’s own adverse consequences, so don’t over-do any beverages, even lite beer, and don’t drink on an empty stomach.

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