Do I have to give Up alcohol to reach my goals?

A common question I get is....

“Do I have to give all alcohol up to reach my goals?”


Rest assured ladies. This is not the case. As a wine lover, I can honestly say that NO lifestyle which requires cutting it out completely will ever work for me. So, how does that work?! “Can we have our cake and eat it, too?”  Oh YES… YES, we CAN :)

I always say to ladies that I'm coaching, alcohol consumption really depends on your goals.  If it is your goal to REALLY focus on a short term lean out goal like a special event or to compete in a fitness competition, for example, giving up alcohol for a short time may be an important part of your plan.  However, if your goal is to gradually lose weight and get healthier while making it work within your LIFE, I encourage the "cut back" or "within reason" approach to drinking alcohol.  If you give up everything you enjoy, the lifestyle is not going to work, right?  So lets learn to enjoy what we love and STILL MAKE PROGRESS towards our goasl.

Through modifications of portion control, ingredient swap, and practicing moderation, here are a few tips to keep alcohol on the “lower cal/less guilt” side… and ultimately, MOST IMPORTANTLY and a part of your life:

Sweet Drinks:

Vodka Seltzer with Lemon or Lime: A common misconception is that tonic water is the same as seltzer water; however, tonic water actually contains a lot of calories and sugar. Seltzer is just water with bubbles. A squeeze of lemon or lime will add a boost of flavor.

Sugarless or Naturally Sweetened Mojito: Mint and lime lovers …. Here’s one for you! Ask for a sugarless mojito with extra lime. If it’s not sweet enough for your liking, add a packet of stevia (which fit beautifully in your wallet, btw!)

Simplified Margarita: Enjoy on the rocks with salt (no mix, just straight tequila, lime, and agave). These modifications will take this normally (extremely) high calorie drink to one that can be enjoyed will minimal guilt. TIP: Use (or ask the bartender for) silver tequila, which contains less sugar than brown tequila.

Lower Cal Cosmopolitan: Raspberry-infused vodka, club soda, a splash of lime and cranberry juice. Fruit juices contain a high amount of natural sugar, which can add up in a drink. A simple splash of cranberry juice adds flavor while keeping the calories under control.

Wine: Most white wines tend to be lower in alcohol and calories than reds. With no real nutrition labels on wine bottles, one way to approximate calories is through the Alcohol by Volume (ABV) percentage. ABVs can range from 9% (low-alcohol wines) to 17% (dry wines). "An ABV 9 - 12% will equate a110 - 140 calories for a six-ounce glass. (Check out Wine Folly's helpful infographic, below.) On the other hand: if you enjoy a savory glass of red…. You are getting some happy health benefits from that glass of vino. Red wines have a higher concentration of antioxidants including polyphenols, flavonoids, and resveratrol. In the end, be mindful your glass size and quantity.

Which leads me into other savory drink choices…

Non-Sweet Drinks:

Bloody Mary Extra Spicy: If you prefer a savory drink, over sweet… try this one. Get creative by adding other garnishes such as pickles, olives, celery, lemons, limes… and even extra hot sauce. Adding added spice to this drink will encourage you to drink it slower. Have a water on hand to sip on in between :)

Beer: Offering more volume for around the same total of calories and alcohol as wine and spirits, beer is the winner here. The carbonation allows this drink to be enjoyed more slowly, thereby resulting in moderate consumption. There are many light/low calorie - and a few low carb – brands on the market today. If you prefer specialty beers, limit yourself to one to avoid consuming a plethora of empty calories and carbs. Choose according to your goals!

Moscow Mule: Ginger beer, vodka, lime juice, lots of ice, and skipping the simple syrup (typically included) allows this drink to be only around 80 calories.

The Bottom Line:

Many favorite beverages can be easily modified to allow occasional indulgences. A simple swap of an ingredient - or limiting consumption to just 1 drink - can mean the difference between sabotaging your goals or staying on track toward them. Moderation is key. Finding a balance that allows for these occasional treats in your lifestyle will keep you on the path toward achieving your goals. Cheers!