You can exercise, or you can exercise caution with drinks



December 29, 2005|By SAM SESSA

On Nightlife You're going to the gym this year.

You're going to spend at least an hour on the treadmill four times a week.

Heck, you'll even put on a sweat suit and jog there, because in 2006, those 10 pounds are coming off.

Yeah, right.

When the weekend comes, you'll still want to drink, even though a few cold ones might counteract all those ab crunches. It's OK -- you don't have to totally abstain to lose weight. Stick to certain beverages, and watch how much you imbibe (that's the tough part), and you can get your kicks while keeping those pounds off.

Most regular beers have about 150 calories in a 12-ounce serving. Switch to a light beer, and you're down to about 110, depending on the brand.

As far as hard liquor goes, a higher proof count makes some difference, but not much, according to Larry Cheskin, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"Alcohol is pretty much alcohol," Cheskin said. "Yes, it would be nice to use 70-proof instead of 100-proof, and that will make some difference, but most of the time you don't even know what's going in or how much they're giving."

Cheskin said your best chance to cut calories is in the mixer. Sugar and calorie levels shoot through the roof in sodas and fruit juices. A can of Coke has 155 calories, but a Diet Coke has none. You can also opt for diet tonic water, though most bars around the city only have regular spritzers. For alternatives to fruit juice, try something like Crystal Light.

There's not much in the way of light wines. White and red wine are about the same, but red wine has more polyphenols, which, in moderation, may improve your health, Cheskin said.

Serving size also factors in heavily. A 12-ounce beer, one-and-a-half shots and five ounces of wine all have about the same number of calories, Cheskin said.

And, according to a new study, your choice of glasses makes a difference in how much alcohol you get. The study, published in BMJ (formerly known as the British Medical Journal), shows that even experienced bartenders accidentally pour 20-30 percent more alcohol into shorter whiskey-and-rocks glasses than taller, thinner glasses of the same volume.

More alcohol means more calories, said Koert van Ittersum, an assistant professor of marketing at Georgia Tech's College of Management.

"The main point is from a consumer point of view," said van Ittersum, who conducted the study. "If people don't know they are drinking 20 or 30 percent more than they are supposed to or they planned to. ... if you drink enough glasses, that's going to be an issue, absolutely."

Whether you make it to the gym or not this year, make it a diet mixer or a light beer. That's a resolution you're more likely to keep.

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