A healthy lifestyle coupled with a low-carb diet is all about balance. Sticking to your diet by watching your carbohydrate intake doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or a cocktail with friends. Dieters have several low-carb options, from vodka and soda to some light beers.
“An alcoholic drink is low carb if it contains little to no grams of carbs,” Sarah Currie, registered dietitian, personal trainer, and triathlon coach in New York City, told Medical Daily.
A drink’s sugar content is what distinguishes whether it’s high or low carb. Most low-carb drinks and liquors are clear or light. This is because they are straight hard alcohol with no mixers containing added sugars. However, Currie adds: “[A] rum and diet coke has no carbs, but is dark due to the diet coke.”
Straight hard alcohol, including vodka, gin, rum, tequila, and whiskey has zero grams of carbs or sugar per ounce. Instead, these drinks get all their calories from alcohol, and range in calories from 97 calories for a 1.5-ounce shot of 80-proof gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, or tequila, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Although these drinks aren’t loaded with carbs, you can still add calories to your daily intake depending on the mixer you choose.
Have your choice of alcohol, and drink it, too. Check out these 5 low-calorie alcoholic drinks that have less of a chance of making you fat.
VODKA AND SODA
The popular bar staple — vodka soda — is practically zero-carb since it’s a clear spirit. Skip the juice, and add soda water or diet soda to reduce carb and calorie intake. Clear beverages make choosing the right drink visually easy and they’re usually significantly lower in sugar (and calories) than their colorful counterparts.
“Clear alcohol (specifically vodka and rum) are the lowest in both sugar and calories compared to most of the darker selections,” Dr. Rachita Reddy, a double board-certified nephrologist and internist with training from UC Berkeley, NYU and Lenox Hill Hospital, told Medical Daily.
RUM AND DIET COKE
Swapping sodas for diet options, like diet cola, can make your go-to hard liquor low-carb friendly. Mixing your favorite unflavored rum with diet coke sets you back just 100 calories. This drink is the exception to the no-dark liquor rule — although it’s dark due to the diet coke, it’s a relatively low-calorie drink.
A vodka martini is an odorless, colorless drink that can be a part of any low-carb diet if it’s dry. Typically, this includes gin and vermouth, with an olive added or a twist of lemon. Gin has zero carbs. “Juices, sodas and other mixers are high in sugar/carbohydrates, which leads you to literally drink your calories,” said Reddy.
If red wine better matches your palate, pinot noir is an excellent low-carb option. Meanwhile, there is about 122 calories and 3.4 grams of carbs in a single glass of wine, which is about 5 ounces. According to Reddy, a true low-carb drink should have less than 5 grams of sugar.
Beers don’t typically make it on the low-carb lists because most of them are inundated with carbs, hence the term “beer belly.” This is because there are tons of rapidly digestible carbs in beer, which can be a disaster for weight control. However, some light beers, like Michelob Ultra, won’t sacrifice your waistline.
Currie believes wine is the “healthiest” of all drinks, but other alcohols in moderation have also shown to be “healthy” in scientific literature.
Balancing a healthy lifestyle and drinking responsibly will reduce your chances of developing a beer belly.