Some summer evenings there’s nothing better than enjoying a cocktail after a long day, but if you’re watching your weight or trying to stay healthy, you have to be careful not to overdo it. There are a lot of empty calories in alcoholic drinks, but some are worse offenders than others. To make the most of your happy hour - or the 4th of July tomorrow - and cut back on calories or sugar, try these tips from registered dietitians:
- Choose sweet mixers wisely- If you like your vodka mixed with something sweet, steer clear of ones with nothing but sugar and artificial ingredients and go for an option that’s more natural, like 100% real juice. It’s better for your health and your hangover.
- Mix sparkling water with wine or liquor- It’ll help cut calories and keep you hydrated while drinking.
- Make a Bloody Mary for a burst of antioxidants- That tomato juice the mix is made with is a good source of an antioxidant called lycopene, which supports heart health and may help protect against certain types of cancer. Also, make sure the mix is made with real tomatoes and isn’t loaded with ingredients like corn syrup and artificial colors.
- Use kombucha for a bubbly and gut-friendly mixer- Add it to your cocktails for a boost of probiotics and bubbles.
- Add real fruit- Squeeze some citrus in your drink for a low-sugar spritz of vitamin C.
- Skip the booze altogether- If you’re craving the ritual of having a drink more than the alcohol itself, make it a mocktail night. You can find nonalcoholic wine, champagne, beer, and spirits and that will save you calories and a hangover the next day.
- Swap out syrupy liquors- They taste amazing, but that sweetness means extra calories, so skip the sugar and opt for the real flavors instead. If you like peppermint schnapps, try using peppermint infused vodka or real mint leaves and if you’re a coffee liqueur fan, use a shot of espresso.
- Look for lower-calorie wines- A serving of wine has an average of 125 calories, but there are varieties that are made with natural ingredients and clock in at around 100 calories a serving. Some also have less alcohol, but still leave you satisfied.
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