I love going out for drinks. Whether it’s for a happy hour, a low key night sitting at a roof top patio bar or moving around the dance floor, drink in hand, certain that I look as good as one of JLo’s back up dancers, I love it all. I am 22, I have little responsibility, and I live in a city that has a large variety of bars, clubs and restaurants to chose from. Why wouldn’t I use this portion of my life to paint the town red? The only problem with enjoying a night out on the town is that alcoholic drinks, and drunken snacking don’t exactly mix well with dieting. Within the last year I graduated college, got a big girl job, started working out and eating better, and moved out of a college house into a grown-up apartment. With all of these changes, the frequency of my drinking went down drastically but I was still finding trouble losing weight.
I never imagined that a glass full of liquid would be my dieting demise but alcohol itself has a high caloric value. And then when you start adding your mixer of choice, before you know it, the drink has more calories than dinner. So with the weekend near and a baseball game to attend, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on some strategies to make a night out a little more friendly on the diet.
I have heard and read a lot of tips on ways to lose weight while still enjoying an adult beverage, so first I will list things that I don’t currently do, but I would like to work towards:
1) Drink more water. If you are out at the bar, try drinking water or a diet coke in between each beer or cocktail. This will cut the amount of drinks that you consume in half. And this will also ensure that you don’t drink to much and make bad choices later. Although, making bad choices are usually the best part of being drunk and then you can always blame it on the a-a-a-alcohol!
2) Track your drinks. Use your smartphone to track how many drinks you’ve consumed in the night. Since I am in Weight Watchers, I have access to the etools, which means I can track what I am consuming, the minute I consume it. And if you are not doing WW but counting calories or keeping a food journal, you could always use the ‘notes’ feature on your phone to keep track of each drink consumed so you can record it later. Do I actually record my drinks when I am out? No, but I need to start.
3) Ditch the plastic. In an effort to be kind to your diet and wallet, only bring a small amount of cash with and leave the credit card at home. This will limit the amount of drinks that are bought and when the cash is gone, don’t let other people buy the drinks, kinda defeats the purpose! The only time this could go awry is if you don’t save enough money to get a taxi or a bus ride home. So if you end up drunk, alone and stuck down town with no cash left, don’t blame me, you have been warned.
Next are the things that I currently do, and have found to work really well:
1) Use sparkling water. I am the type of person that really likes carbonation. I love diet coke, but more so I love flavored (or plain) carbonated water. I drink a bottle of carbonated water almost everyday. So naturally when I am making an alcoholic beverage, carbonation is what I look for. Since I typically have sparkling water on hand, I have started mixing it with a small crystal light (or any other low calorie drink mix) packet and using that as my mixer. I love the results and it’s also a rather cheap option; this particular brand of sparkling water comes in a 6 pack for under $2.00 at my local grocery store. Much cheaper than a 6 pack of soda.
2) Forget the juice and regular sodas. An easy way to cut calories while you are out at the bar is to swap high calorie juices for low calorie sodas or water. For a long time I was drinking cocktails that had cranberry juice or sprite and grenadine. The amount of sugar that I was consuming in one night was probably more than ten toddlers in tiaras downing their pixie sticks at pageants. So if you normally drink coke and rum, swap it out for diet. If you can choke down rum, you can sure handle diet coke. Nowadays I try to go for a drink with diet coke, diet tonic or club soda. If given the opportunity I will try to drink gin and diet tonic but I also like gin with club soda and extra lime!
3) Dance! I am definitely not the first person on the dance floor, and some nights I don’t even make it out to the dance floor but when I do decide to grace the dance floor with my unrefined dance moves, I know that I am working up a sweat and burning calories. Even if I don’t make it out to the dance floor, I still move around, singing and shaking my tail feathers, which I am sure is also burning calories.
4) Find the low calorie alternatives. A lot of companies are starting to make lower calorie options of their products. It has become a lot easier to find light margarita mix or a low calorie strawberry margarita with the alcohol already added. There is even a whole line of low calorie cocktails, vodkas and wines called Skinnygirl Cocktails. And light beer is even becoming lower and lower in calories with MGD 64 and Bud Select 55. Although if you are a beer enthusiast, you probably aren’t going to enjoy the taste of a beer with only 55 calories. But I tend to drink whatever beer is put in front of me or on special at the bar. That might make me sound trashy, but this is very acceptable and understood among the college aged community.
So these are a few loopholes that I have found to drinking while on a diet. As much as I would like to believe that alcohol and dieting can be friends, I know that alcohol is not a healthy substance and that my diet would be better off without it. But for the time being I am going to keep searching for low calorie drink options!