Enjoying a cocktail after a long day, especially on those balmy summer evenings, is a tradition that has stood the test of time. But if you’re trying to manage your weight — or simply get as much nutrition as you can from the calories you consume — you have to be careful not to overdo it.
“The total calories in an alcoholic beverage may be more than those from alcohol alone, depending on the type, brand, ingredients, and portion size,” according to the USDA Dietary Guidelines. The government agency goes on to explain that seven ounces of a rum and cola, for example, may contain about 155 calories, with only 98 coming from the alcohol itself. Translation: there are a lot of empty calories in that cocktail.
That’s not to say that registered dietitians — myself included — skip the adult beverages altogether. (Everything in moderation, right?) But while nutrition experts may occasionally have a cocktail, you likely won’t find them guzzling super-sugary concoctions or oversized heavy pours. Most dietitians recommend complying with the federal guidelines to limit yourself to up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men, while also cutting back on empty calories from mixers like sodas and heavy juices.
So, how can you ensure you’re getting the most from happy hour? There are some tricks of the trade that dietitians use to either cut the calories and sugar or boost the nutrition in cocktail recipes. Read on to learn more about some dietitian-approved products and tips to make over your own blends.