Which Alcoholic Drink is Best When You're Dieting?
QUESTION: Dear Tom: If you are going to go out and have a drink or two with friends, which drink is the best when you’re on a fat loss program like BFFM? Would it be wine or a vodka mixed with soda? Is champagne better or worse than the other two?
ANSWER: The first thing I would suggest is that you ask a better question! The answers you get are only as good as the quality of questions you ask. “Which alcohol is best?” is not a very good question when your goal is to get leaner.
“Which alcohol is best” contains the presupposition that:
(A) that you ARE going to drink and
(B) a “good” choice exists.
What if ALL alcohol is a bad choice? what then?
If you asked, “How much damage would I do to my body and how much would I slow down my results if I drank during my fat burning program?” you might get a different feeling towards alcohol. This type of question presupposes that there WILL be a down side, it’s only a question of how bad it will be.
If you focus on the consequences of drinking, (like getting a beer gut), instead of how you can best “get away with it,” it may change your attitude. Then if you shift focus to the abs and lean body you want, and change your question to what is the best way to get great abs and a lean body, it will change your attitude and motivation even more.
I get asked about alcohol and fat loss a lot. Almost every time, I have a sneaking suspicion that the person asking the question is really just looking for me to give them “permission” to drink.
I’m not going to do that. Well, not exactly. But I do have 4 major guidelines I’d suggest you consider if you’re thinking about drinking:
 On fat loss programs, I don’t recommend drinking alcohol at all because alcohol suppresses fat oxidation and adds unnecessary calories to your diet, which either displaces nutritious calories or erases your caloric deficit.
 For lifelong maintenance, I recommend that if you choose to drink, that’s fine, but only if you do so in moderation (1-2 drinks a day is considered moderation according to most health authorities)
 I do not recommend daily drinking as part of a fitness lifestyle, because daily drinking can become habit forming. My recommendation is limit drinking to weekends, holidays and or special occasions.
 I recommend ALWAYS being cognizant of the calories that are added to your diet through alcohol and above all else know how many calories are in your drinks.
If someone really MUST know which alcohol is worst on a fat burning program, then it would be the one with the most calories. Conversely, the lesser of evils would be the drinks with fewer calories.
For example, that would mean choosing light beers over regular beers. Bass ale and Sam Adams lager both contain 160 calories per bottle. Guinness extra Stout packs 176 calories per bottle. (a bartender at an Irish pub once told me with a totally straight face that there were 1,000 calories in a Guinness… he really had me going for a minute).
By comparison, Amstel light contains only 99 calories, Michelob Ultra has 95 calories and Beck’s Premier Light has 64 calories (Beck’s pulled off that feat simply by lowering the alcohol content… I’ve never tried it, but I bet it tastes pretty watered down)
On a tangent, I think it’s a sin that light beers are marketed as low carb and advertised with diet and fitness images… but that will have to be a rant for another day…
Champagne has about 96 calories per 4 oz glass. White wine such as chardonnay has about the same caloric content as champagne.
Any pure distilled liquor will contain about 65 calories per fluid ounce at 80 proof. When mixed with other calorie containing liquids, the calorie count goes up. A 6 ounce screwdriver will give you about 130 calories. A whiskey sour about 169 calories. Rum and coke – 180 calories.
Naturally, mixed drinks may contain even more calories due to the sugar in the drink mixes. A margarita is one of the worst, with an 8-ouncer packing about 500 calories and a huge dollop of sugar!
A couple of those with your cheese nachos and enchiladas, refried beans, sour cream and guacamole, and you’ve just knocked back about two days worth of calories in one meal – calorie bomb city!
Fat loss is first and foremost a matter of calories in vs calories out, so the calorie counts are what you look at first.
If you wanted other criteria to judge the “best” alcoholic drink, you could also look at whether there is any health value, as in red wine, or whether there are any nutrients in the drink, such as what you might find in the vegetable juice of a bloody mary or the orange juice in a screwdriver.
However, I think that’s a pretty moot point when you consider the far superior way to get those same nutrients: eat whole vegetables and oranges.
The fact is, you can certainly get leaner while drinking, as long as you stay in a caloric deficit, but that doesn’t mean it’s the smartest thing to do for your body and your health.
About the Author:
Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilder, certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) and a certified personal trainer (CPT). Tom is the creator of the “Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle Program” which teaches you how to get lean without drugs or supplements using methods of the world’s best bodybuilders and fitness models. Learn how to get rid of stubborn fat and increase your metabolism by visiting: www.burnthefat.com