This time of year you’ll hear a lot about the benefits of “light” beer and “skinny” cocktails — so you can enjoy your holiday parties without a calorie-care in the world. But be advised, “light” or “skinny” can still give you more calories than you want. When consuming alcohol, it’s often easier to drink your calories, than eat them. If you’re concerned about weight gain, think before you drink.
Beer offers you “light”, “low carb”, “low calorie”, and “ultra light” options. A regular beer has approximately 150 calories, 14 grams of carbohydrates and no fat. That’s right, NO FAT. So where does that ‘beer belly’ come from? The calories. When it comes to weight gain, ‘calories in vs calories out’ is the only formula that counts. If you consume more calories than you expend, you gain weight.
A “light” beer tends to have fewer calories than a regular beer – but in the United States, the term “light” only means that beer has fewer calories than the brand’s regular beer, not all regular beer. And in some cases, the difference is negligible. For example, Michelob Light only contains 20 fewer calories than a regular Michelob beer. So, be sure to check the calories of your “light” beer and don’t forget that light beers usually have just as much alcohol as regular beers.
And forget the “low carb” beer – it’s essentially a marketing gimmick aimed at people who are obsessed with counting carbohydrates. Beers in general are not loaded with carbs and the average difference between regular and “low carb” beers is 5 grams of carbs (the equivalent of 1/3 cup of low fat yogurt).
Holiday cocktails are notoriously calorie-laden so “skinny” cocktails have become very popular – and for good reason. For example, eggnog is a delicious creamy holiday favorite, but a single serving will give you 343 calories and 19 grams of fat. Have two eggnogs at that holiday party and you’ve essentially consumed a Big Mac in a cup! Instead, you can choose a “skinny” eggnog with low-fat milk that’s only 148 calories. So “skinny” is definitely the way to go – but make sure you know what to ask for. Know which ingredients tend to add calories, and which don’t. Do a little research or take this quiz to see if you can guess the calorie count of many popular cocktails.
Whether your drink is “light’ or “skinny”, remember that most of these options still have just as much alcohol as regular beverages. So saving a few calories is not a great excuse for drinking more than you normally would. Also, alcohol lowers your blood sugar, so you’ll feel hungrier as you drink more – that extra snacking can undo your diet quickly. So be smart, and as the ads tell you “Drink Responsibly”. A few beverage substitutions can make a world of difference to your waistline, but for optimal health, there is no substitute for moderation.