How to Lose Weight With Booze

A few swaps can help you move from beer belly to six-pack.

March 2, 2017
woman choosing drink
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Adapted from The Lean Belly Prescription

No matter how tropical your mixed drink or how light your beer, your choice of happy-hour hooch may not be as healthy as you think it is. Alcohol is still filled with empty carbs and calories that add up if you're watching your weight. 

More: The 10 Worst Foods for Fat Loss

Yes, what you've read about some health benefits to booze is true. Beer and wine may help ward off coronary artery disease, hypertension, and even de- mentia. All of these benefits go bust, however, if you don't practice moderation, generally accepted as no more than one beverage a day for women or two for men.

Learn your limit, switch to a better bar order, and raise your glass to better health.

liquor
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Liquor

In small amounts, ethanol, the pure form of alcohol, may raise good HDL cholesterol and encourage better blood flow. go overboard regularly and the effects reverse, increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. The first law of liquor: go easy. The second: ditch drinks with inflated calories and loaded with sugary stuff.

rum drink
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Schnapps

This candy-like liquor is relatively low in calories, but it's usually no more than a mixture of alcohol and artificial sweeteners.

Try instead: Rum
Distilled from either molasses or cane sugar, this full-bodied liquor pops up most often in daiquiris and piña coladas, which, coincidentally, are some of the biggest calorie bombs at the bar. Try a Dark and Stormy instead: Mix 1 part dark rum with 2 parts ginger beer, plus a squeeze of lime. Refreshing.

gin drink
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Herb and spice liqueurs

Don't let the herbs of a Jägermeister or a Goldschläger fool you—these tipples usually contain more than 100 calories and 11 grams of carbohydrates per ounce.

Try instead: Gin
This liqueur packs an herbal wallop from the juniper berries that are added to the alcohol during distillation. You probably know it as a central ingredient in martinis, but it also tastes great mixed with club soda and a lime wedge. The less you do to a good gin, the better.

brandy drink
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Coffee liqueur

Do you know why Kahlúa tastes so good? Yep, it's packed with sugar. That's also why it contains 91 calories per ounce. Combine it with Baileys and chocolate syrup in a Mudslide, and it's like drinking an alcoholic dessert.

Try instead: Brandy
Brandy is full flavored on its own, so there's no need to add mixers (and extra calories). At 70 calories per ounce, a good bottle is worth the extra dough.

beer
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Beer

Resist the urge to chug: Limit your quaffing to two bottles (one for women), and you'll reap the health rewards of beer while preventing yourself from carrying around a keg of your own.

Yuengling Lager
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Domestic beer

Just because American beers tend to be brewed up on the lighter side doesn't mean they always go easy on the calories. Aim for a beer with fewer than 140 calories. Budweiser, Pabst, and Samuel Adams Boston Lager don't make the cut. 

Try instead: Yuengling Lager (135), Busch (133), or Rolling Rock Extra Pale (120)

Miller Lite
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LIght beer

Caution: The light beer you're drinking may have more calories and less flavor than some of its nonlight competitors. Bud Light has about as many calories as regular Keystone Premium.

Try instead: Miller Lite (96 calories), Michelob Ultra (95 calories), MGD 64 (64 calories)

Amstel Light
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Imported beer

Bass, Heineken, and Pilsener Urquell all contain 150 calories or more per bottle. With plenty of other imports on the market, look elsewhere.

Try instead: Amstel Light (99 calories), Beck's Premier Light (64 calories)

wine
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Wine

Wine can help you live a longer life, according to researchers. Resveratrol, a substance found in grapes, has been shown to protect the lining of arteries. Some wines have more benefits than others, but whatever bottle you choose, don't feel the need to finish it. A glass a day is all you need to do you wonders.

red wine
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The wines to choose

Pinot Noir: This wine contains the highest levels of resveratrol. One study found that pinot noir had more than five times the amount found in other wines.

Sparkling Wine: Brut Natural, Brut Sauvage, and Ultra Brut have less than 3 grams of sugar per liter. Sec varieties can contain 17 to 35 grams of sugar. Doux wines contain more than 50 grams.

Cabernet Sauvignon: Moderate consumption of 1 glass of this red wine per day may help reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease. Talk about having wine on the brain!

Chardonnay: Buy the cheap stuff. Research has found that amines, typically found in top-shelf barrel-aged wine, are the most common culprit in wine headaches. California and French whites tend to have the highest levels of amines.

bar cocktail fruit
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A note on mixers

Adding the wrong mixers to your drink can inflate calories and fill your glass with unwanted artificial ingredients. As a general rule, stay away from sodas and energy drinks, which contain crazy amounts of calories, and go for no-calorie club soda instead. Avoid bottled mixers, too—they're often little more than sugary corn syrup and food coloring. Use real, 100 percent fruit juice as a swap.

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