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Drinking well


Nathan Gunter January 12th, 2011

Local bartenders and fitness gurus say you may not have to give up the drinks to keep your New Year’s resolution.

So you’ve made it through the inevitable holiday bloat and promised yourself that this year — this year — is the year that it happens. This is the year that you Get In Shape. This is the year you will sculpt a body that will make your 23-year-old self want to vomit with jealousy. You will pull out those pants from college. You will button them. You will lose friends over it. This is your year.

But before you lose those friends, they may want to take you out for a drink. There are always a few lingering holiday parties that stretch into the new year. And anyway, what fun is being all hot and in shape if you can’t go out and enjoy all the attention it nets you?

Better start that learning curve now: How do you maintain some semblance of a healthy diet and still enjoy the occasional drink?

Ben Coffman, owner of Oklahoma City Fit Body Boot Camp, said it is possible to enjoy a few social drinks without blowing the diet. While some may have willpower to teetotal until their fitness goals are achieved, it may not be necessary.

“If you drink multiple drinks socially, try to keep drinking alcohol to only one to two days a week maximum if you want to stay lean,” Coffman said. “On the other hand, if you never drink more than one to two drinks per day, I think having one to two drinks daily with a meal can still be part of a healthy lifestyle, as long as those calories are accounted for and you still stay within your daily caloric maintenance.”

What fun is being all hot and in shape if you can’t go out and enjoy the attention?

Coffman said that the healthiest choice is red or white wine, beneficial for the dose of antioxidants it provides. He suggested avoiding syrupy or sweet drinks like margaritas, which may contain several hundred calories per serving. If wine isn’t your thing, Coffman said clear alcohol with club soda is a good bet.

“Stay away from tonic water mixers,” he said. “Some people don’t realize this, but tonic water is loaded with almost as much sugar as regular soda pop. On the other hand, club soda has no calories at all. It’s clearly the lowest calorie way to drink.”

Topher Sauceda, bartender at the Hi-Lo Club, 1221 N.W. 50th, said it’s not uncommon for customers to ask for a diet mixer with their alcohol. Neither club soda nor diet sodas have much in the way of calories.

Social drinking is not something that most people are willing to give up entirely.

—Ben Coffman

Sauceda recommended a Bacardi White Rum and Diet Coke.

For beer fans, the outlook is less rosy.

“Beer is really heavy,” Sauceda said. “You can tell a beer drinker a mile away by the belly.”

For those who can’t quite give up the suds, he said Michelob Ultra is a popular option, with a better flavor than other low-calorie beer options.

Still, Coffman warned that even the calories in a low-calorie beer can add up if one is drinking heavily.

“If you’re going to drink beer, you’re better off choosing just one or two dark beers rather than five or six light beers,” he said. “As long as you keep it to just one or two dark beers, you may still stay within 150- 400 calories.”

Finally, Coffman said that partiers should watch their health habits before and after drinking. Exercising before heading out — and then again the morning after — can help manage some of that caloric intake. Eating a meal based around protein and vegetables is a good way to keep your appetite satisfied so you won’t over-imbibe.

And, he said, resisting the temptation to indulge in late-night munchies is key. So head straight home after the bar and not to Taco Bell.

“Abstaining may always be the best choice,” Coffman said, “but we also need to be realistic and know that social drinking is not something that most people are willing to give up entirely.”

 
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