I didn’t drink alcohol for many years because it just made me feel so bad. A drink just wasn’t worth it. I had chronic fatigue, insulin resistance and poor gut health. Once I started healing through diet and lifestyle changes, I experimented with trying a drink here or there but the allure of the drink never really outweighed how bad I would feel from it. About a year ago, I began sampling my husband’s drinks when we would go out. It worked out nicely because I got to taste a few different drinks but never had to finish one. He would ask me regularly when he was mixing a drink for himself if I wanted one. The answer was always “No”. Until one day, about a month ago, I decided it was time to try a drink again.
I had been fasting for 5 days a month for 5 consecutive months with amazing results of healing. It was renewing and healing my body in many ways and I felt like I could finally enjoy a drink without the suffering. I had a cosmopolitan for the first time in years and it didn’t make me feel bad. I credit that to all the lifestyle changes I’ve made and the fasting I’ve been doing. I realize how ridiculous this sounds, I participated in a fasting protocol so I can now drink alcohol. HaHa! But, its true. This FMD protocol has really helped me out. Since my 5th cycle of the 5 day fast, I’ve had a birthday and gone to Vegas with a few successful drinks mixed in. Then it hit me, what is all this drinking gonna do to my clean eating lifestyle and weight??? Crap!
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the occasional drink if it’s not standing in the way of you reaching your goals and if you tolerate alcohol well. Like I mentioned above, for years, I didn’t tolerate it well. So, I didn’t do it. Now that I can tolerate it, I have to figure out if it will fit in with my other health goals like weight loss and/or maintenance. It is important to note that it may take longer to reach weight loss goals if alcohol is included.
Here are a few questions you might ask when thinking about how alcohol will fit into your current health program. Exactly how does alcohol fit into this program? Should I drink it if I’m trying to lose weight? What should I drink when I drink?
Having all of these questions, I decided to put together a few tips and some of my favorite drinks with lower calories.
Assess your goals. We all have different health goals, and a good practitioner/program will Individualize recommendations based on your goals. Alcohol will definitely have an effect on your body, and you’ll need to determine whether or not it’s worth it as you work towards your goal. When I was trying to heal from chronic fatigue, insulin resistance, and poor gut health, it wasn’t worth it for me because alcohol was inhibiting my progress. Now that I am recovered (for the most part), I can have an occasional drink as long as I stay on track with other lifestyle changes so I don’t get completely derailed. Fasting has really helped me with all of this.
It’s not a bad idea to try to cut back or avoid alcohol altogether when weight loss is a goal. The reasons being because when you drink alcohol, your liver’s primary goal is to detoxify and get rid of it instead of focusing on metabolism and fat breakdown. Two, because alcohol loosens up your ability to make good food choices. And three, alcohol has a lot of empty calories and as much as we’d like to not count them, they add up quickly!
There are other reasons to consider as well, like sleep. We are learning more and more about how important sleep is in weight loss and mental health. Pay attention to how alcohol interferes with your sleep. If alcohol is causing you to sleep poorly, it could also be interfering in weight loss in that aspect as well.
Choose your drinks wisely. From a calorie and health standpoint, one of the biggest concerns with alcohol is what is added to it to make a tasty drink. Many mixed and specialty drinks are high in sugar, dyes, and/or artificial sweeteners, and preservatives. Have you ever wondered why you can’t find food labels on liquor bottles? Liquor isn’t regulated the same way as food so manufacturers are not required to list ingredients or even nutrition facts in many cases. Because of this, you can be sure that the worst ingredients are included in your favorite flavored drinks. Do you really think there is real green apple in that Crown Royal? Absolutely not! It is something artificial and most likely includes sugar.
My favorite drink choices:
Clear Spirits: Stick with clear spirits, like vodka, tequila and gin. Anything flavored will have sugar and/or artificial flavorings. Try a Vodka or tequila + soda water + fresh squeezed lemon or lime. It’s refreshing and free of sugar and artificial sweeteners. If you like a sweeter drink, add a dash of stevia to it. I’ve been known to carry a packet or a portable squeeze bottle of liquid stevia around in my purse for on the go sweetness. My favorite vodkas are Chopin (made with potato), Ciroc (made with grapes) and J.T. Meleck (made from rice).
Wine: Keep in mind, the sweeter the wine, the higher in sugar it is. Red wine has more antioxidant power than white, but do not start drinking Red Wine for this benefit! There are much better ways to get antioxidants. See Eating the Rainbow post.
Hard Seltzer: With about 90-100 kcal/can and zero to minimal sugar, these can be a great option to bring along in an ice chest for a beach, BBQ or other outing. Brands like Truly and Smirnoff Hard Spike Sparkling Waters are great choices.
Gluten-free hard cider: Not just any old hard cider will do as most are loaded with sugar! I am told Michelob Ultra light cider is sweetened with stevia, and is quite good and lower in calories and sugar. I have not tasted this one as I haven’t seen it in my area. I’m also told that ACE and Fox Barrel make a lower sugar cider but again, I haven’t tried these. Crispin is a little higher in sugar (although not the highest) but it is very good.
Kombucha Cocktail: Kombucha is a fermented beverage with beneficial bacteria and yeast. Many people enjoy the very slightly sweet and tart drink on its own which is not an alcoholic drink. But if you are looking for an interesting cocktail, try adding a shot of vodka or tequila into your favorite flavor of kombucha. When I visited Las Vegas recently, one of the restaurants had a hard kombucha that contained a higher alcohol content but it isn’t available in my local area (yet).
Low Cal Mojito: Try adding a shot of vodka or clear spirit of choice to Kavita Lime Mint Coconut Mojito drink for a mojito-like experience. Muddle some mint in it for a more authentic drink.
Bloody Marys: The quality of the ingredients (sugar, preservatives, etc) used in Bloody Mary mixes aren’t the best. However, making your own drink at home with a good V8 or tomato juice can work great. If you are concerned about sodium, try the low sodium versions.
Pomegranate Martini: Mix vodka, a little Pom juice and lime in a shaker for a yummy Pom martini. Be sure to use the 100% Pom juice and skip the sugar rimmed glass.
Margarita: Tequila, fresh lime, squeeze of fresh orange, ice and shake. I’ve been known to add a slice of jalapeno to give it a kick. You can throw a splash of soda or sparkling water in it too. I like a salt rimmed glass. If you like a sweeter drink, you can add a little stevia. Agave will give it more of an authentic flavor but will also add calories and sugar.
Please comment and send me your favorite drink recipes! Cheers!
Kombucha with higher alcohol content at Herringbone in Las Vegas