While booze may never be “healthy,” it does have some health benefits when consumed in moderation. Plus, it’s delicious and there’s absolutely no shame in enjoying a cocktail with friends or unwinding with a glass of wine at the end of a long work day.
Yet, some drinks are better for you than others. Depending on the ingredients and size, some cocktails can have hundreds of calories or be filled with sugar. Luckily, though, you can find a few great options that will be lower in calories and sugar and that may even have a few added benefits for your health.
Here are the best and worst cocktails to choose if you’re trying to lose weight and stay healthy.
The Best and Worst Cocktails for Weight Loss
Best: Vodka Soda
While it gets a rap for being basic, a vodka soda is a pretty solid drink choice when you’re at a bar or restaurant. “A vodka soda has just two ingredients— vodka and club soda. Since club soda is sugar- and calorie-free, this is about as healthy as a cocktail can get,” says Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD. Add a squeeze of lemon, orange or lime for a little extra flavor. Plus, citrus also has some vitamin C for an extra health perk. We love spicing up our favorite cocktail with fresh herbs in our Blackberry-Rosemary Vodka & Soda.
What makes bacon and eggs at brunch even better? A mimosa in hand! And mimosas are actually a pretty good cocktail when you pick the right type of juice.
“A mimosa has two simple ingredients—Champagne and a dash of OJ. Because of that, it’s lower in calories and sugar than other drinks that have a bunch of ingredients,” she says. Just be sure to use 100% orange juice to avoid added sugar. That fresh OJ will even give you vitamin C to boost immunity and start your morning off right. Try serving our Golden Mimosa or Mimosa with Juice Ice Cubes at your next brunch.
Best: Wine Spritzer
Wine has antioxidants from grapes and it’s lower in calories than many cocktails per serving. “Combine 3 ounces of wine (red of white) and 2 ounces of seltzer or club soda to make a wine spritzer,” she says. “This drink is naturally sweet from the wine, but it actually has less calories than a regular old glass of wine since it contains the seltzer in place of the extra ounces of wine,” Rizzo explains. Plus, it’s super refreshing with the bubbles.
This holiday drink is a doozy. “Eggnog is made with eggs, cream and sugar, making it high-calorie beverage,” she says. Yet, while you likely won’t drink it in the summertime, it’s hard to resist the urge in the winter around the festivities—which is totally fine! Enjoy one then move on to something lighter. And if you want more than one, you can lighten it up by using low-fat milk instead of heavy cream, Rizzo says, or try our Vegan Spiked Eggnog for a healthier (but still delicious) twist.
Mojitos are know for having a decent amount of added sugar, so while they taste light, minty and refreshing, the calories from the sneaky sugar adds up quickly. You can make it healthier by getting rid of some of the sugar—try our Fresh Mint Mojito Cocktail—or add in more natural elements for flavor, like extra herbs or citrus. “This drink will still taste refreshing if you cut the sugar in half,” she says.
Worst: Piña Colada
Although piña coladas are creamy and delicious, they are often made with coconut cream and have tons of added sugar, so they’re not exactly on the list of cocktails you’d want to drink non-stop when you’re looking to slim down.
“The coconut cream adds fat [aka excess calories], and the added sugar can come from sweetened pineapple juice or sugar (depending on the recipe),” she says. “To lighten it up, sub in light coconut milk instead of coconut cream and use pineapple juice that’s 100% juice without added sugar,” she suggests. This will take those numbers down a bit and give you fewer calories and grams of fat and sugar per serving. We also love switching up the flavors with our Banana Piña Coladas or La Croix Piña Coladas.