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High spirits, low calories

health-and-fitness Updated: Sep 06, 2010 15:41 IST
Malvika Nanda
Malvika Nanda
Hindustan Times
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Drink too much and you get flabby. And it's not just the calories in liquor that are at play. Alcohol reduces the amount of fat the body burns as energy, slowing down weight-loss.

Given the high caloric value of most spirits, the body is forced to store the excessive amount of unburned fat calories in the form of flab and the despised beer belly. For those who love their poison, total abstinence is not an option. The thing to do is be smart with your choice of alcohol and more importantly, watch those mixers.

Model Ramneek Pantal says on days she doesn't feel like downing empty calories, she sticks to a clever mix of three-quarters water and one quarter-cola for flavour with lots of ice. "I never put on weight due to drinking, but I have friends who do. So, just a dash of flavour can do the trick there."

The spirit math
To start with, get familiar with the basics of different types of spirits. Hard liquors are high in calories —30 ml whisky is about 118 ml. Cream-based drinks are generally more fattening. But the real sin lies in the cocktails. They are loaded with syrups, juices and other sweetened flavouring, which together with alcohol can push the calories in one drink from 600 to 1,000.

For the 28-year-old IT professional and events coordinator Shalabh Pratap Singh, the drink of choice is vodka with warm water. It has among the least calories. "Adding flavoured carbonated water to your drink also breaks the monotony without adding calories," says Singh.

Model and DJ Iggy aka Ignatius Camilo believes that "each body type is different, so it's important you identify what works for you." Iggy drinks wine or beer that's brewed from rice, barley or hops. "I don't drink beer made from wheat or corn unless it's a beer I haven't tasted before."

Different strokes
The way the body processes alcohol varies with individuals. "Our body isn't a drum where the stomach and metabolism are the only factors at play. There's the liver that's responsible for filtering and processing alcoholic content. So when people drink, they should give some thought to the condition of their liver as well as their general health," says nutritionist Dr Shikha Sharma.

Also, it's not just about the number of calories, she adds. "Wine may have fewer calories than a whiskey or vodka, but the body tends to retain more calories from wines," she says.

The rule of the thumb for diet watchers is to go for clear spirits as compared to darker ones. And avoid cocktails altogether, unless you have the option of asking for low-calorie diet mixers.