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A happier, healthier you

Healthiest Alcohol to Drink during the Holidays

by Yes Health Team

Holiday season calls for a continuous celebration of food and drinks. And while most of us assume that holiday weight gain comes from all the feasting, the sneaky sugars in our beverages can actually make more of a caloric impact.

The good news is that there are plenty of drinks and cocktails that you can enjoy, and still stay on track to your health goals. The key is just understanding the tips and tricks of healthier drinking choices.

Why drinking alcohol in moderation is key

Okay let’s be real, alcohol isn’t exactly healthy. And while you may argue that there are some potential health benefits in let’s say red wine, the overuse of alcohol consumption can lead to some health consequences. 

Here are some of the key reasons why you should drink alcohol in moderation:

Liver Damage

Your body’s main detox organ is your liver, and it works to neutralize free radicals and toxins like alcohol. Excessive heavy drinking over time can cause serious liver damage that can eventually lead to needing a liver transplant. 

Impairs Brain Function

Have you ever heard of blacking out and forgetting what happened from drinking too much? If so, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Excessive drinking (even just one time) can acutely impair cognitive function, while heavy alcohol use overtime can lead to permanent brain damage, and even an increased risk of dementia.

Can Contribute to Depression

While alcohol can give you temporary short-term feelings of happiness, it can induce depression and anxiety the next day and beyond. Good to keep in mind for those who struggle with these or similar mental wellbeing concerns.

Weight Gain

It’s a known fact that excessive alcohol consumption can easily lead to weight gain. If you’re focused on reaching health goals or maintaining your current healthy state, you don’t want alcohol to ruin your progress. The calories in a beer and wine can equal a sugary drink or soda, so just keep portions in mind when you’re drinking.

Poor Choices

Buzzed choices may not always be the best. Drinking alcohol also can reduce your inhibitions and cloud your judgment, which can lead to making poor food and drinks choices. This is why it’s good to have a gameplan in case the munchies strike.

If you plan on drinking alcohol, plan ahead.

For some of us, we know it’s not realistic to cut out alcohol completely (especially during the holidays). So if you are planning to enjoy a few beverages, here are some planning tips that will help you protect your health.

Here are the 3 things you should make sure to do every time you consume alcohol:

  1. Eat a well balanced meal (protein, healthy fats, fiber) within 1 hour or so of drinking. It will help you feel satiated, and less likely to make more poor food choices later on. Having a well balanced meal will also help to slow and regulate the effects of alcohol.
  2. Drink a glass of water per alcoholic beverage. Alcohol dehydrates your system, so alternate each alcoholic beverage with a glass of water (or club soda) to make sure you stay hydrated. This way, you’ll be less likely to overindulge and deal with a hangover the next day.
  3. Set a “drink curfew” and stick to it. If you stop drinking earlier in the night or day, there’s less of a chance you’ll wake up with a hangover. Plan to pace your drinks earlier and you have a better chance of feeling fresh in the morning.

Alcohol Cheat Sheet: Best to Worst Alcoholic Drinks

Worst and least healthy alcohol to drink

  • Sugary cocktails like piña coladas, daiquiris, mojitos, mai tais or any cocktail that includes fruit juices and sugary mixers. There’s often harmful chemicals and artificial ingredients in many of these drinks, so best to steer clear of these.
  • Wine coolers and liqueurs are also often loaded with sugar and chemicals. Opt for sugar-free or low sugar options for these.
  • Beer. Yes, this might be a controversial one, but most beer are high in carbohydrates and low in nutrients. Some studies show that regularly consuming beer can lead to belly fat gain.
  • Ciders with higher sugar content. Stick with dry varieties to keep sugar low.

Better and healthier alcohol to drink

  • Wine (mainly the red wine varietals) are known for its high resveratrol antioxidant content. White wine, unfortunately, doesn’t offer these same benefits but may be better suited for those with sensitivities to tannins.
  • Champagne is actually less sugary than most people think. 4 oz. of champagne contain only 1 gram of carbohydrate and 0 grams of sugar. 

Best and healthiest alcohol to drink

  • Vodka, gin, rum, or whiskey. These spirits, when in their pure unflavored forms, are lower in carbs than other beverages, contain no sugar, and are gluten free.
  • Mezcal and tequila. Derived from the agave plant, these spirits are gluten free, sugar free, and very low in carbohydrates.

Best mixers for cocktails

  • Club soda, seltzer
  • Fresh-squeezed lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange juice. Lemon and lime are best for lowest-sugar options.
  • Muddled herbs, such as basil, ginger, and mint
  • Fresh fruit and veggies for garnish
  • Coffee
  • Honey, stevia, or monk fruit (in moderation)

Final Thoughts: Healthiest Alcohol to Drink during the Holidays

So if you are going to indulge this holiday season, you now know the best ways to do it and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Just remember that overindulgence can be counterproductive, and it’s best to keep drinking to a minimum.

If you’re concerned about your personal relationship with alcohol, or want more recommendations to improve your lifestyle, try Yes Health free for 14 days, and see what support and resources your coaches recommend for you.



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