Patio season is in full swing, and while most are rejoicing at the reclaimed ability to socialize and have a bite with friends, those working towards their health and fitness goals may be challenged this summer. A casual drink with dinner can add upwards of 600 calories (we’re looking at you, margaritas), with most popular cocktails sitting at around 200-300 calories per drink. These high caloric drinks can be detrimental to fitness and weightloss goals, but those health-focused patio-goers need not give up their summer plans–you can still enjoy a drink with dinner and keep your calories low.
Stick with the classics
Wine or beer are lower calorie alternatives to a high-sugar cocktail or mixed drink, with a single standard serving of each usually adding less than 150 calories to your daily intake. Making the switch to a lite beer can save you even more, with brands like Budweiser offering a 55 calorie lite option (Budweiser Select 55). White wine is slightly lower in calories than red wine, but for a difference of about 5 calories per serving, it’s safe to choose the one you prefer without much second guessing. Steer clear of wine based drinks like sangria, as the added fruit and sugar can increase the calories substantially.
Vodka Soda with Lemon
Vodka is the lowest calorie liquor option, with a single shot equalling approximately 100 calories. Experts suggest choosing a liquor-based drink to prevent overconsumption, as these options tend to be consumed slower than wine or beer. Adding a zero calorie mixer like soda water works twofold, both by preventing you from adding a high sugar option like pop or juice, and also by working to rehydrate you as you sip. A squeeze of lemon offers a slight flavour without the caloric increase.
Mojito (no simple syrup)
A standard mojito contains about 170 calories, mainly due to the addition of simple syrup. Omitting the sugar can save you anywhere between 40-70 calories per drink–ask the bartender to add more mint and fresh lime, or a pack of sweetener in place of the syrup.
Choose Low Calorie Mixers
An easy way to keep calories down in your mixed drinks is to choose low or zero calorie mixers like diet pop and low sugar juice blends. Soda water and diet ginger ale make great additions to vodka-based drinks, and add in a bit of flavour with a squeeze of fresh citrus. If you’re a rum fan, try swapping the traditional cola mixer with a diet version for the same great taste, minus upwards of 100 calories per serving.
Everything in Moderation
Are you wanting to try that restaurant’s signature cocktail? Do it! Balance is the key to a healthy lifestyle, and indulging once in a while is a part of that balance. Rather than having two or three drinks at dinner, have one specialty cocktail or beverage you’ve been eyeing–this saves you the FOMO and prevents you from overindulging.