Drinking Plans For The 4th (And The Rest of Your Summer)

Summer in Wisconsin is short, too short. We all want to get outside and have a good time as much as possible. Apparently Wisconsin was also named the drunkest state…surprise. Not something to be proud of when you really think about it. The fact is, we all like to kick back and have a nice cold adult beverage once in awhile.

Anyone who knows anything about alcohol and how it affects the body (besides getting falling down drunk) knows that it does not have a good effect on our body composition. Alcohol provides 7 calories/gram, and even worse, those calories can’t really do much good for us. Thus, they are known as empty calories.

For example:

  • Wine is right around 125 cals/5 oz. (3-4grams of carb as well)
  • Beer and Light Beer are about 105/150 cals respectively (along with 12g carbs and 6g carbs)
  • Vodka, Tequila and Rum all have 97 calories per shot (1.5 oz).
  • Whiskey, Bourbon and Gin all contain about 105 cals/shot.

Now, if you are mixing your own drink, are you really just putting in 1.5 oz? 

Those are the calories from the alcohol alone. The amount of calories can severely increase with all the mixers, fixings, and chasers we add to the drinks.

The following are some simple strategies I recommend to minimize the alcohol damage this summer, and hopefully get Wisconsin out of that #1 spot.

1 .Limit the sugary mixers.

Most soda is about 90 calories worth when made in a mixed drink at a bar (6-7 oz.). Add one shot of alcohol to that and you are already at 180 calories. Get loose with the pours and that cocktail could easily be 250+ calories. Have 4 of them, and you are at 1000 calories, all useless for your body. Useless calories don’t just vanish, they get converted and stored – as fat. And thats just added soda. What about simple syrup, sugar cubes, other mixers, slushy drinks, and other simple sweeteners…things could get out of hand.


My Suggestion: use club soda or seltzer water (0 calories) and add a lime/lemon/orange wedge. Those 4 cocktails just dropped from 1000 calories to 360 (not great, but MUCH better). You can also try muddling fresh berries, mint, or citrus fruits in your drink for some flavor.

I’m still not a fan of diet soda, but when it comes to calories, it is a better choice.

2. When it comes to beer, light may not be best.

Think about it, do you drink beer to get smashed, or just to enjoy. Hopefully by now you’re not spending your weekends getting smashed at the bar and club with your bros/bro-ettes. If you are drinking to enjoy a beer, it’s okay to pick a slightly heavier, and more flavorful beer – IF you drink in moderation (1-2 drinks).

My Suggestion: One heavier beer is about 150-170 calories, while one light beer is about 100 calories. However, light beer is much less filling and it is much easier to drink more light beer than dark beer (learned this quickly in college). You need to be honest with yourself and listen to your body. Stick to more flavor if you are only having one. Go light if quantity is you goal (not recommended).

3. Watch the food you choose.

Often times, its not the drinks that really pack on the calories, its the dumb life food choices we make after a few drinks. Be smart with your food, and try eating some more wise choices before you start drinking, so you aren’t starving once you start drinking – or you will hit up the first “Fat” Food restaurant that you see.

My Suggestion: Try a small snack rich in fat and protein before you start drinking to get some slow digesting foods in your body. Mixed nuts, veggies and guac, or a half of a quality sandwich.

Try these three tips, and then check out some of these quick drink swaps to save you from some serious calorie damage.

NO: Pina colada (525 cal)
YES: Caipirinha (161 cal) – traditional Brazilian cocktail – lime, 2 tsp. brown sugar, cachaca (alcohol) – or rum.

Caipirinha Recipe

NO: Frozen Margarita (675 cal)
YES: Iced sangria (225 cal)

NO: Long Island Ice Tea (420 cal)
YES: Gin Martini (110 cal)

NO: Mai Tai (310 cal)
YES: Cosmopolitan (170 cal)

Low Calorie Cocktails
For more information on alcohol consumption in America, check out this link:

Drinking In America

Published by Mike Gorski

Registered Dietitian and Fitness Coach OWNER OF MG FIT LIFE LLC

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