If you are on a diet- you will know that planning meals is arguably the toughest part. Forget getting up at 6am for a spin and scheduling Saturdays around vigorous PT sessions; those things are a doddle compared to the time and effort spent mapping out meals. Writing detailed shopping lists, batch-cooking soups and finding lids for our forty-two Tupperware tubs are daily struggles- and don’t even get us started on `on plan` lunches with the girls or guys.

But does dieting mean we miss out on all the fun? Alcohol and losing weight are not an advisable mix, we agree, but there are low-calorie drinks out there that we can enjoy throughout our weight loss journeys. We’re not saying healthy drinks like water and green tea are off the menu, but we all deserve a treat every now and then to motivate us towards our goals.

We’ve made a start on finding the best (and yummiest!) drinks options to reach for while we rest, work and play.

1) Low-calorie coffee stop

Nothing says `cheat on your diet` quite like the whiff of a freshly brewed coffee. With an array of flavoured syrups and sickly seasonal toppings to pick from, there’s always a risk of falling off the wagon once you’ve passed through those glass screen doors. If you think your only option is to break up with your favourite coffee shop, then we’ve got good news for you. Starbucks, Nero, Costa and many independent coffee haunts all offer great low cal drinks- you just need to take a closer look. Black coffee is packed with antioxidants, and with a zero-calorie price tag, it’s the perfect base for your low-calorie drink. Sugar-free syrups are a great addition, and come in a range of joyous flavours such as vanilla, caramel, hazelnut, and cinnamon- there’s every option to mix it up. Stick to one or two pumps though, as artificial sweeteners can trigger sweetie cravings once the initial buzz has worn off! Not a fan of a black brew? Save on the calories and swap your normal latte for a dairy-free alternative such as soya, almond or coconut.

2) Low-calorie brunching

Half the fun of brunching is being allowed some sophisticated booze at midday, and we dare you to object. You will need to wave goodbye to Mimosas and Espresso Martinis- but believe it or not, low-calorie cocktails do exist and they are not terrible. It is important to note the calories in alcohol along with what’s in the mixers, but a beautiful low-calorie cocktail can be done and done it will. Try ordering a Moscow Mule, an extra spicy Bloody Mary (tomato juice= one of your five a day) or a Mojito without the sugar (self.com). As a rule, opt for clear spirits such as vodka, gin or rum and choose freshly squeezed fruits over cordial, and you’ve got yourself a diet drink. Not a fruit fan? Treat yourself to a small low-calorie wine instead, red is best.

Low-calorie Moscow Mule:

Grab a high ball or cocktail glass

Fill to the brim with ice cubes or crushed ice, whichever takes your fancy

Add 25ml-50ml of vodka (typically 56kcal per shot of 40% ABV)

Top up with a light ginger beer such as Fevertree, 19kcal per bottle

Squeeze a fresh lime wedge to reach desired taste

3) Low-calorie Netflix binging

We don’t know about you, but we’re `good` all day then the minute we park our bum, the snack monster comes out. We can’t exactly rely on our mums, husbands or wives for support, either- 7pm onwards is prime time for grab bags of Maltesers and Monster Munch. Beat your sweetie cravings with a big mug of low-calorie hot chocolate such as Options or Highlights, topped with light whipped cream for extra indulgence. For something a little more filling, try adding low-calorie chocolate sauce such as Sweet Freedom’s `Choc Shot` to warm skimmed milk. Chocolate milk has double the carbohydrate and protein content as normal milk, so if you’ve got a few extra calories to spend one evening, choccie milk makes the ideal post-workout drink.

4) Low-calorie birthday drinks

Whether it’s your birthday, your best friend’s hen do or your colleague’s 60th shindig- there’s booze involved and you know it. Drinking alcohol doesn’t have to be off-limits because you’re on a diet, but you do need to be clever about what you are putting inside your body. Vodka is a go-to diet drink at 56kcal per shot (40% ABV, add 1.5 calories per 1%), and if you stick to soda and fresh lime instead of lemonade and cordial, it could be your tonic of choice throughout the night without affecting your calorie optimisation too much. Clear spirits such as vodka, gin, and tequila are generally lower in calories, but extra care needs to be taken when adding sugary mixers such as fruit juices and post-mix. If you’re a beer drinker, opt for bottles over pints of draft. In terms of lowest calorie beer, most bottled `light` beers range from 55kcal-120kcal.

5) Low-calorie work days

If you work in an office, then you’ll know the struggle is real. Besides your colleagues having an insistent need to bring cakes in every day, your desire to refill your coffee cup in between tasks is strong. Mondays are particularly difficult whilst we mourn the back of the weekend, meaning we are more likely to trough coffees and cake. It’s easy to ignore how many calories we are adding to our drinks throughout the day (yep- those dashes of milk really do add up), but moderating your coffee and tea consumption at work will help. Why not alternate between coffee and green tea, or have a glass of water in between? If you really can’t cut back, try switching to soya or coconut milk- you can drink a lot more of these before your calorie limit is reached.

Can I drink alcohol after weight loss surgery?

If you’ve had bariatric surgery– whether that is a gastric band, gastric bypass or gastric sleeve– you may be advised to limit your alcohol consumption afterwards. Your weight loss specialist will advise you on how long you should wait, but 6-8 weeks (or once you are back on solid food) is a regular recommendation. Once you begin drinking alcohol again, you may be advised to drink lower volumes than you are used to.

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