The Skinny Facts
A gathering of food, beverage and good company go hand in hand especially around the holidays. Along with the plethora of holiday eating opportunities and food selections comes an abundance of beverage offerings.
From Cocktails and mocktails to ciders, hot chocolates and toddies, liqueurs, beers, wines, juices and punches which may delight the eyes and the spirits, yet for the unguarded, a treasure trove of excess calories. Not only is the base of a beverage potentially laden with high carbohydrate juices, added sugars, but the alcohol adds the pun to the calorie punch, no pun intended!
Below the Surface
What you call “Alcohol”, more properly known as Ethanol, is produced through fermentation of plants of dense carbohydrate sources like fruit, corn, potatoes and grains such as barley and wheat. You already know this right?
But, did you know that Ethanol is a rich source of energy providing 7 calories per gram? You read it right, 7 calories per gram!
Yes, almost as much as a gram of fat at 9 calories. Remember, protein and carbs at 4 calories per gram. So you ask, is alcohol fattening?
Let’s take a quick dive deeper. I love how Tom Vanuto, from Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle notoriety, gets to the simple skinny on the matter. He explains “alcohol is not directly stored as fat, but it is a fuel; a fuel that is preferentially oxidized by the liver.” Said another way, so when Ethanol is present in your system regardless of whatever else is available, that fuel source takes priority until depleted with others working in the background.
“alcohol is not directly stored as fat, but it is a fuel; a fuel that is preferentially oxidized by the liver.”Tom Vanuto
Over consumption in conjunction with the rest of your diet and relative activity levels may lead to a positive energy balance that can cause weight gain.” Note also, there are a whole host of other physiologic activities going on that affect hormones, stimulate appetite, etc.
So, will enjoying alcoholic beverages directly make you fat? Directly, probably not, but it might just be more about the other additions that comes along with it.
The other stuff….well, that’s the great company and food that comes along with it.
When engaged socially, it’s easy not to be conscious of what or how much just went down the hatch.
If you drink socially, ask yourself, does this cause me to engage in problematic eating behaviors? If so, not only do you have the potential excess calories from alcohol and the various drink bases, but before you know it, the extra food intake is running a tab on your abs.
Do this often enough and weight gain due to positive energy balance is likely eminent.
If you choose to indulge, here are a few tips:
- Avoid indulging on a empty stomach – alcohol will increase your appetite.
- Set your limit and consider your choices in advance.
- Be mindful of the drink make-up. Creams and nogs are packed with calories. One eggnog can be 500 calories, while a Kahlua & Cream 350 or more.
- Have a glass of water, fruited water or seltzer instead or in between drinks.
“If you choose to drink it, enjoy it. Savor it, enjoy it mindfully, ideally in good company”Krista Scott-Dixon
6. Give your drink a makeover – select sugar-free bases, juices or mixes, less creams, low-fat options.
7. If you’re the hostess, offer options, scan the internet, there are so many delicious but mindful offerings.
Bottom line, Krista Scott-Dixon of Precision Nutrition nails it with these words, “…if you choose to drink it, enjoy it. Savor it, enjoy it mindfully, ideally in good company.”
Below are a select few for your pleasure:
1/3 cup light pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 ounce rum
1/4 teaspoon Stevia or sugar
1/2 cup champagne
In a glass, add pomegranate juice, lime juice, rum, and sugar. Mix well. Fill the glass with ice cubes and top it off with champagne and pomegranate seeds. (Courtesy: Peanut Butter and Peppers)
Apple Cider Sangria
1 bottle white wine
2 1/2 cups fresh apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup vodka
2 apples, chopped
1 orange, chopped
1 tablespoon raw honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
Chop apple and orange and place in the bottom of pitcher with pomegranate seeds. Add in wine, apple cider, cinnamon sticks, vodka, honey, and cinnamon. Stir and serve with ice. (Courtesy of Lexie’s Clean Kitchen)
Sparkling Fruit Sangria
1 lemon and 1 orange, both thinly sliced
1 cup each blueberries and raspberries
10 large strawberries, sliced
1 cup orange juice (or sugar-free orange Crystal Light)
1 750ml bottle sweet white wine (Riesling)
1 750ml bottle your favorite champagne
Place all fruit and orange juice in a large pitcher or bowl, add wine and allow to sit in refrigerator for 3-24 hours. Right before serving, add champagne. Taste; add sweetener if necessary. We recommend stevia.
Boozy Skinny Hot Chocolate
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
5 teaspoons high quality cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon stevia (or to taste)
1 ounce amaretto
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and turn heat to medium/high. Using a whisk or spoon, continuously mix until fully combined. Bring milk to a simmer and take off heat. Serve with nonfat cool whip and a sprinkle of cinnamon. (Courtesy: Fit Foodie Finds)
Peppermint Mocha White Russian
1.5 ounce Vodka
1.5 ounce Peppermint Kahlua
1.5 ounce International Delight Peppermint Creamer
2 ounce Milk of choice (may we suggest unsweetened almond milk)
Garnishes: Whipped Cream/Sugar-Free Cool Whip and crushed candy canes
In cocktail glass, filled halfway with ice, add 1:1 ratio of vodka and Kahlua. Top with 1:1 ratio of International Delight Peppermint Creamer and milk. Stir to combine. Garnish with whipped cream and crushed candy canes. (Courtesy: my great friend and hostess with the mostess Brenda Main Lee)
Skinny Girl Bloody Mary
2 1/2 ounces Skinnygirl® Cucumber Vodka or unflavored vodka
4 to 6 ounces vegetable juice, such as low-sodium V8
Dash of Tabasco Sauce
Dash of ground pepper
Celery stalk, for garnish
Martini olive, for garnish
Cucumber Slice, for garnish
Combine vodka, vegetable juice, Tabasco, and pepper with ice in a pint glass and stir until mixed. Garnish with celery stalk, olive and cucumber slice on a pick. (Courtesy: Skinnygirl Cocktails)
If you would like to engage with us and share one of your favorite holiday drink options, skinny or in need of a makeover, we’d love to hear from you!
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Send your recipe to email@example.com memo line: 2017 Drink Recipe Challenge. (Please be sure to credit your source.)
Merry Christmas and to the best 2017 ever,
FREE Holiday Baking Recipes
We have two versions of every dessert, both are delicious:
- A traditional version with premium ingredients (butter, flour, eggs, milk, etc) .
- A “healthified” version made with less processed ingredients.