Alcohol and Your New Year’s Diet

The low-carb, high-protein dieting trend should be terrific news for liquor makers: rum, vodka, gin, whiskey and tequila contain no carbs or fat at all, and never have.

Still, drinking on a diet is harder than it looks. A 12-ounce serving of regular beer can have up to 250 calories and 16 grams of carbs. The Atkins Diet bans all alcohol, at least during early days, as does the South Beach Diet, which stresses eating the right carbs and the right fats.

For dieters who choose to drink, Weight Watchers recommends drinking moderately, which is defined as one drink per day for women and two drinks for men.

Avoid High Calorie Mixers

Liquors become diet busters because they’re often served with sweet juices and sugar. A simple piña colada can rack up 27 grams of carbs and 236 calories per a typical 9-ounce serving, of which only 2-ounces is usually alcohol. Plus, drinking can weaken inhibitions, making people likely to indulge in wild behavior, such as eating pasta.

Avoiding high-calorie soda mixers can make a big difference, too. Subbing Diet Coke in a Rum and Coke cuts the calories to 66 from 209 and the carbs to nearly zero from 21 grams. Club soda instead of regular soda will save someone who imbibes in three to four drinks per week thousands of calories a month.

Be Mindful of Nuts

It’s tough to make an argument that a bar is a good place to maintain a diet. Consider the final pitfall: mindlessly grazing the bar snacks. Three handfuls of mixed nuts can silently harbor a whopping 500 calories.

Additional drink tips from Hannah:

When enjoying alcoholic beverages and watching your waistline, try to stick with straight liquors. I usually choose bourbon, neat, in the winter (preferably Maker’s) and vodka on the rocks, or with club Diet Screwdriver Cocktailsoda, in the summer. I’m truly a lover of beer – especially anything in the stout range – so I suggest a pint of Guinness when only a brew will do. A 12-ounce serving of Guinness Draught is only 125 calories and 10 carbs – definitely worth indulging in from time to time (or time and time again).

Prefer a cocktail concoction to something straight-up? Here’s a low-cal version of the Screwdriver:

Skinny Screwdriver

1½ oz orange vodka
¼ oz triple sec
½ oz fresh lime juice
¼ sugar-free simple syrup
4 oz diet tonic water; all-natural Q Tonic is perfect!
Slice of orange, for garnish

Combine vodka, triple sec, lime juice, sugar-free simple syrup and tonic water in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a highball glass, filled with ice. Garnish with orange slice.

129 calories, 2.5g carbs, 0.1g fiber

Sugar-free Simple Syrup
In a small plastic bottle, combine 1 part sugar substitute, like Splenda, to 2 parts water. Shake vigorously until dissolved.




  • Hannah January 14, 2009 @ 10:55am

    Wild behavior, such as EATING PASTA? Ha! I suppose we could all be so lucky if our outrageous, wild behavior consisted only of that. 🙂

  • Ed January 14, 2009 @ 11:16am

    “…drinking can weaken inhibitions, making people likely to indulge in wild behavior, such as eating pasta…” ROFL. Too true. Alcohol has been known to turn people into pasta-holics!

  • Ed January 14, 2009 @ 11:18am

    Do we need to start setting up meetings? “PA” – Pasta-holics Anonymous?

  • Hannah January 14, 2009 @ 11:21am

    ha – perhaps 🙂 or ya’ll can start enjoying Barilla Protein Pasta – it’s mos def a tasty treat – high in fiber and protein, low in empty carbs.

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