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Dietitian's Dish: Drink wisely, cut extra calories

Aug. 8, 2011 at 3:08 a.m.
Updated Aug. 9, 2011 at 3:09 a.m.

Lindsay Adams

Lindsay Adams

Lindsay Adams

Friday is almost here and for many people, Friday means it's time to kick back, relax, and enjoy a cold one - or maybe even a few.

If you choose to consume alcohol, the American Heart Association recommends drinking in moderation which, for men, is considered drinking no more than one to two drinks per day or less than five drinks per week.

For women, drinking in moderation is considered drinking no more than one serving of alcohol per day or less than three alcoholic drinks per week. One serving of alcohol is classified as 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits.

In this limited amount, some studies show that alcohol consumption, whether beer, wine, or spirits, may increase HDL cholesterol (the 'good' cholesterol), lower LDL cholesterol (the 'bad' cholesterol) and reduce the risk of blood clotting.

Individuals with certain medical conditions should completely avoid alcohol, and in excess, alcohol can have negative effects on anyone.

For people watching their waistline, drinking alcohol can be a barrier to weight loss. Your body burns alcohol before burning protein, carbohydrates, and fat, so alcohol consumption slows fat burning.

Additionally, pure alcohol has seven calories per gram. These calories can add up quickly for those who consume multiple alcohol beverages or when sugar and other ingredients are mixed. For example, Long Island Ice Teas can have about 780 calories per 12 ounces. With just two of these, many women and some men may be exceeding their entire daily calorie allotment. Clearly, this can be diet sabotage.

To choose lower calorie alcoholic beverages, remember that light beers have fewer calories than regular beers, largely because of lower alcohol content, and keep in mind that 'low carb' does not mean low calorie.

Flavored liquors, such as vanilla vodka, typically have more calories than the unflavored liquors. Stay away from frozen or creamy drinks that tend to be packed with calories. Use diet soda, club soda, low-calorie juices or sugar-free drink mixes instead of regular soda or juice to make mixed drinks and avoid the temptation to eat high calorie snacks while drinking.

If you drink, drink wisely, and consider some of these recipes for lower calorie mixed drinks.

Lindsay Adams is a registered dietitian. Send questions or comments to dietitians@vicad.com.

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