Exercise & Fitness

Have a social summer without gaining a pound

You can indulge in refreshing, colorful cocktails and still lose weight.

I had an interesting conversation with my husband recently … I was rambling on about some new fitness classes and fads and asked him if he’d heard of The Bar Method yet. Of course, he immediately asked if that was some type of class that involved squats at the local pub … because he’d be all in! After minutes of laughter I explained that was not the case, but it sent my mind toward one of the issues we deal with the most: how to socialize while keeping a diet or weight loss goal in check.

So let’s take a peek at how alcohol affects your weight-loss goals. Let’s face it: It’s fun to imbibe in Kansas City! After all, we’re one of the next great cocktail cities.  With so many great local mixologists and the height of the summer social season, cocktails are almost inevitable.

Summer cocktailsImage via vectorious

According to the American Council on Exercise, consuming alcohol in large quantities has a direct effect on your metabolism. It causes fat to be stored instead of being used as an energy source. Alcohol contains SEVEN “empty” calories per gram, meaning that those calories don’t provide you with any of the essential nutrients you need to build that muscle mass you desire. Remember, muscle burns fat!

One point I like to focus on is that alcohol affects your hormones by reducing testosterone in your bloodstream, and it increases the conversion of testosterone to estrogen, causing increased fat depositing and fluid retention.

Calories Add Up Fast
12 ounces of beer = ~150 calories
5 ounces of wine = ~100 calories
1.5-ounces of distilled spirits = ~100 calories

So what do you do? Follow these easy tips:

Stay away from fruity drinks. Cocktails like daquiris, bahama mamas and rum runners pack a caloric punch due to sugary juices and hard liquors. Try to steer clear of the super sweet stuff loaded with multiple ingredients!

Choose a lighter version. There are all sorts of “skinny” versions of drinks on the market these days, and they taste pretty good! Having a skinny margarita or skinny sangria is a great way to indulge your desire for a fruity, fancy drink without all the calories. This goes for light beers, too. You can always lighten up a soda cocktail by opting for the diet version, like rum & Diet Coke or vodka Sprite Zero. Sticking to clear alcohols versus dark choices is always the best bet. Dark alcohols contain far more toxic compounds than clear alcohols, including molecules like acetone, acetaldehyde, tannins and furfural–PLUS, they have more calories.

Drink a glass of water between every drink. This has the double benefit of keeping you hydrated while slowing down your alcoholic intake. You’ll be less likely to overdo it on the alcohol because you’ll be enjoying the taste rather than drinking it out of thirst.

Fake it! You don’t have to drink. If you don’t want to feel like the odd man or woman out, just use a fancy glass! You can even make your own alcohol-free cocktail with soda water and a splash of cranberry juice or a twist of lemon. No one will know the difference!


Jill Stoppel has been involved in the fitness industry since 2009 and has been personal training full-time since 2002. She is the sole owner of Excel Wellness Studio, is certified through the American Council of Exercise and holds several certifications in group exercise, spinning and kickboxing. She also maintains memberships, affiliations and mentorships within the major health and fitness organizations in the nation to stay connected to other top professionals. She and her team offer fitness advice to Kansas Citians exclusively for Good Health KC magazine online.