Having a drink or two at the end of a long day can do more than relax you; it can also bring health benefits. Numerous studies have found that wine, beer, and alcohol can boost health in many ways, including reducing the risk of heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and kidney stones.
Alcohol is also known for piling on the weight. There's even a popular term for it — beer belly. Some types of alcohol are definitely better for your waist than others. Here's how to choose an alcoholic beverage that's more likely to help sculpt your abs than to expand your waist.
First, keep it simple. Sugary cocktails are loaded with calories. A Long Island iced tea contains an average of 300 calories, and a super-sized fancy restaurant cocktail can contain more than 1,000 calories.
Second, watch the alcohol content: The higher the alcohol content, the higher the calories. For instance, while 80-proof vodka contains 64 calories an ounce, 100-proof vodka packs 82 calories per ounce.
Wine. Overall, wine may be your best choice at about 100 to 125 calories per 5-ounce glass. While white wine may be slightly lower in calories, red wine provides more healthful antioxidants and may even help you lose weight. A study published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that the ellagic acids in red wine both slow the growth of fat cells and the creation of new ones.
Beer. Beer can be relatively low calorie. Some extra-light beers have as few as 55 calories in a 12-ounce can, and many "light" beers range from 90 to 100 calories. Regular beers weigh in at an average of 150 calories per 12-ounce can, and an entire pint of dark beer only has about 170 calories. Beware of craft beers, however. Some contain as much as 18 percent alcohol and a single bottle can contain 450 calories.
Liquor. Almost all 80-proof hard liquors have about 100 calories. But when you begin adding ingredients, the calorie count can skyrocket. Avoid flavored liquors, which contain more calories, and keep your drinks simple. Sugary cocktails are obviously high-calorie options, but remember that a simple rum and Coke runs up the calorie count. You can save calories by using low-calorie mixers (diet Coke in that rum and Coke) and club soda.
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