What's the best alcohol to drink on a diet? The truth is, dieting and drinking alcohol don't necessarily go hand in hand. But sometimes there are reasons to indulge and on those nights a margarita on the rocks is a good choice.
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It's fruity and refreshing, and tequila has zero carbs and zero sugar. Other ingredients hike the sugar count, but those can be minimized for a lower calorie drink.
An 8-ounce margarita on the rocks typically contains about 274 calories. Calories will go down if the amounts of added sugars like liquors and syrups are lessened.
Calories in a Margarita
What's known today as a skinny margarita is actually a traditional margarita on the rocks. The tequila cocktail is the original way to enjoy a margarita before prepared mixes and slushy margaritas became the norm.
A typical 8-ounce margarita on the rocks contains about an ounce of tequila, an ounce of triple sec or Cointreau and lime juice. One ounce of tequila has zero sugar, zero carbs and about 64 calories. Added sugars come from the triple sec or the Cointreau, which are essentially sugary syrups.
Read more: Does Drinking Alcohol Slow Your Metabolism?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's FoodData Central, there are 274 calories in an 8-ounce margarita on the rocks, 36 grams of carbohydrates and 36 grams of sugar. That's about 7 teaspoons of sugar per drink. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day; for men, it's 9 teaspoons.
Drinking and Dieting
So, what's the best alcohol to drink on a diet? The truth is, trying to lose weight, or maintain a healthy weight requires a lot of moderation with alcohol. On top of the added sugars and calories some drinks have, the body can't store alcohol. So it tries to burn the alcohol before burning sugar or fat, which means extra glucose or lipids stay in the body as excess fat.
Still, there are times when a person just can't resist half off margarita night at the local taco joint. Tequila is low carb, low sugar liquor and relatively low in overall calories. A classic margarita contains fresh fruit and it's possible to ask for less triple sec or Cointreau to minimize the sugar content.
Another diet friendly drink that's also fruity and refreshing is sangria. Sangria calories, however, can add up when making the classic sangria recipe. That version contains added table sugar, soda and other liquors like brandy, Cointreau and triple sec. But, there are skinny versions that contain only the wine, fruit and some sparkling water to keep the calorie count under 100.
Margaritas to Avoid When Dieting
Margaritas tend to make it onto lists with titles like the "Worst Cocktail for Weight Loss." Typically, the margaritas on those lists refer to are the ready-to-serve premixed versions that are full of added sugar.
The USDA's FoodData Central lists a margarita cocktail mix as having 110 calories, 28 grams of carbs and and 28 grams of sugar in a 4-ounce serving. If a person drinks a regular 8-ounce drink serving, that hikes the calories to 440 and the sugar and carb count to 56 grams each.
Overall alcohol is no friend to the diet. The key to achieving weight goals is moderation and approaching alcohol consumption with as much information as possible to make the best choices.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture FoodData Central: "Margarita"
- American Heart Association: "Added Sugars"
- Cleveland Clinic: "6 Surprising Ways Alcohol Affects Your Health — Not Just Your Liver"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture FoodData Central: "Triple Sec"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture FoodData Central: "Cordial or Liqueur"
- California Strawberries: "Skinny Strawberry Sangria"
- USDA FoodDataCentral: Margarita Cocktail Mix