Dr. Simpson has always told his weight loss surgery patients that alcohol has plenty of calories and that if you want to lose weight, cutting back or even quitting your social drinking is a good idea. Easy to say, but hard to do. Many of us have had drinks with dinner and friends most of our lives. It’s one of those pleasures in life that many people really enjoy. Do you have to give it up?

Low calorie drinking is possible. You need to know that it is better for your health to not drink period . But, a recent Associated Press article tells you that you can use a few tricks to lessen the caloric impact of alcohol consumption. The first thing they tell you is to “think before you drink.” What they mean is that you have to count calories from alcohol just as you would those from regular food and drink. So if you’ve eaten too many food calories in a day, you can’t drink. Nothing to do with it being an alcoholic drink – it’s all about the calories. So if you think you might be drinking on a particular evening, you must cut your food calories during the day enough to compensate for those in the drinks you plan to have that night. You must count the calories in the drinks beforehand too (that’s the thinking part).

Alcohol is not a good thing to consume for your diet and your health. Federal Health guidelines state that women should only drink one drink a day – men two. A drink is one 12 ounce beer (100 to 150 calories, five ounces of wine (120 calories) or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor 100 calories).

Which alcohol has less calories?

Hard liquor delivers less calories but not when you mix it in specialty drinks such as  a daiquiri mix. You can hike the calorie count by 260, more than doubling the calories At 360 calories, a mixed drink is equivalent to a Sausage McMuffin. Any form of soft drink or fruit juice will raise the calorie count of a typical drink by 200. Mixed drinks have the highest caloric content, unless you use low calorie mixers and diet juices. Water is the best low calorie mixer but don’t think tonic water is. It is just another form of soda pop. Use diet tonic water if that is your mixer of choice.

Low calorie alcoholic drink mixers exist but a lot of people may not know that. Because when you are in a bar and ordering a drink you might not think about calories. So it might be a good idea to call some bars ahead of time and find out if they offer low calorie mixed drinks.

Another trick is to put a lot of ice in your drink. Ice makes a drink last longer because it waters it down making it possible for you to nurse it longer resulting in you ordering fewer drinks without feeling that you missed out.

Cut calories in alcoholic drinks by using better ingredients

Use fresh juiced or squeezed fruit juices (without added sugar) and use high quality spirits. Pomegranate juice is very low in calories. Lemon and lime are very healthy flavors to add to your drinks at only 4 calories per teaspoon. If you bartend at home, you can add orange, lemon, lime or tangerine citrus zest to liquor to flavor it with no calories at all. Here’s how – add the zest to your favorite liquor and let it marinate over four days. Strain out the zest and serve mixed with sparkling water or seltzer and maybe a little sweetener. If you have to sweeten a drink, use agave or stevia. The AP article recommended honey as a sweetener. While honey is better for you nutritionally than cane or beet sugar, it is much sweeter. Sugar is the upper level benchmark on the glycemic scale. So Sugar is the arch enemy to your health and to your weight loss program. Honey being sweeter than sugar makes it something to certainly avoid.

To lose weight, avoid large fattening alcoholic drinks

Buy smaller drink glasses for your home. If you use large drink glasses, you will be inclined to fill them. You don’t want to serve guests a glass half empty do you? Smaller glasses (like Dr. Simpson’s smaller plate trick for meals) simply translates to smaller portion sizes and that is the most important element to dieting. Whether you are eating, drinking alcohol or any other higher calorie drink – you have to learn to consume less.

LOCKE, MICHELLE. “Drinking on a diet? Those calories can add up fast.” Yahoo News. Associated Press, 09 Jan 2013. Web. 15 Jan 2013.