The Best Booze for Dieters

Learn how to make better choices at the bar to lose weight

drinks lined up at a bar
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If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re probably already tracking the nutrient content of your food. But do you also pay attention to the calories that you drink? Sometimes, the drinks you choose can make or break your diet. This is especially the case when those drinks contain booze.

Alcohol contains seven calories per gram. Calories in alcoholic drinks are usually fairly high – regardless of whether you are drinking beer, wine, or cocktails.

In addition, drinking booze can affect your willpower.  You’re less likely to make diet-friendly food choices when you are tipsy. For that reason, you should learn to drink less if you want to lose weight. But if you do choose to indulge, here are some tips to help you navigate the bar.

Diet- Friendly Wine Tips

The number of calories in wine is fairly consistent between red wine and white wine. Most varieties contain about 100 calories per serving.  But that doesn't mean that every glass of wine you drink will total that number. Drinking wine can be tricky because the serving size is often difficult to manage.

Many wine glasses contain more than a standard 5-ounce serving. Some sources even list a serving size of wine as 4 ounces – which is a much smaller glass.  Many bars serve wine in large goblets that hold up to 8 ounces or more. If your bartender is generous, you could consume over 150 calories in a single glass of wine.

Your best bet if you choose wine is to ask about the serving size. Ask the bartender for a modest serving and a glass of water on the side.  Or you can choose a low-calorie wine. Cense is a line of premium wines endorsed by Weight Watchers. Each 5-ounce serving provides just 85 calories.  And Bon Affair is a bottled wine spritzer that contains 300 calories per bottle.

Of course, that doesn't mean you should drink the whole bottle, but a single glass will only set you back about 60 calories. 

If you drink wine at home, consider investing in wine glasses that help you pour the right amount. For example, Weight Watchers sells a stylish set of stemless wine glasses that discreetly indicate a single serving. They look great and keep your smart drinking plan on track for under $20.

Beer Choices With Fewer Calories

The calories in beer are easier to manage because beer is often served in standard 12-ounce cans or bottles.  Even draft beer from a bar tends to be served in standard glasses.  But the calorie content of beer can vary significantly.

As a general rule, lighter beers contain fewer calories. But there are exceptions to that rule. Guinness, for example, is a very dark beer and contains only 125 calories per 12-ounce serving. That calorie count is significantly less than many comparable dark beers and even some lighter colored beers.

But if you are on a diet, 125 calories is still a lot of calories. So what’s your best option? Bud Select 55 contains only 55 calories per 12-ounce can. You won’t get the hearty taste of a darker beer, but you won’t get the beer belly either.

If you want a different option, Amstel Light is a favorite among many beer drinkers and it contains only 95 calories per 12-ounce bottle.

Cocktails With Fewer Calories

Mixed drinks are the riskiest option for dieters because of the number of ingredients involved.  Most hard liquors contain roughly 100 calories per shot. But it’s usually the mixers that cause problems for dieters.  The calories in orange juice, for example, can add up. And other juices that you might add to drinks like margaritas and daiquiris tend to be very high in sugar and calories.  

So are “skinny” cocktails any better?  The answer is tricky.

Some brands advertise that they are low in calories but the number is low because the serving size is exceptionally small.  Skinnygirl brand pre-mixed cocktails, for example, contain 75 calories per serving, but a serving is 1.5 ounces – about the size of a shot glass.

The best cocktail for a dieter is probably the one you make yourself. Use fresh ingredients and measure every addition so you know exactly what’s in your glass.

Remember, portion size is what matters most when you are dieting - especially when it comes to booze.  Just because a cocktail is low in calories, doesn't mean you should drink more.  Choose a single drink that you enjoy, savor it, then switch to water or other low-calorie drink options to keep your diet on track.