Cut Calories in Drinks This Summer with These Healthy Tips

Last Updated on June 19, 2020 by Diane Hoffmaster

From summer cocktails to post workout re-hydration drinks, when you are counting calories, don’t forget the ones you drink! Want to cut calories in drinks without saying no to anything but water?  Here are a few healthy tips to help you rethink your drink!

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summer berry cocktail in mason jar on table with text overlay 'LOW CALORIE Summer Cocktails'

Can you gain weight from liquid calories? YES!

Summertime means block parties, barbecues, and a few too many opportunities for cocktails garnished with tiny umbrellas. Drinking all those extra calories may increase the number you see on the scale. Calories are calories.  Whether you eat them in cookie form or drink them in a cocktail.

There are many ways to avoid the hidden calories in your summer drinks and still enjoy an occasional adult beverage. Here are a few tips to help you avoid those extra calories from your cocktails as well as a few recipes to try out the next time you entertain.

photo of lemons and limes and cocktail glasses on a cutting board

Skip Premade Mixes

Premade drink mixes make summer drinks quick and easy; however, they’re also loaded with sugar. You can reduce the calories in your summer drinks by making them from scratch and reducing the amount of sugar called for in your recipe.

Carbonated citrus and water in glass with herbs

Reduce calories in drinks using Seltzer Water

Liquor, by itself, contains calories: about 96 calories per 1.5 ounce serving of 80-proof distilled spirits, according to SF Gate. Then on top of that, a splash of fruit juice, soda, tonic and other popular mixers in summer cocktails tend to be high in calories, too.

For those who don’t want to cut calories in drinks, here are some not so low calorie cocktails:

To reduce the caloric intake of your drinks, leave extra room at the top of the glass for some ice cubes and cold seltzer water. The chill and carbonation will make your drink more refreshing as well as lower in calories. 

Good + Simple has an easy, two-step recipe using seltzer. All you need for a skinny pina colada is coconut rum and pineapple bubbles.

cocktails in clear skinny glasses with text overlay How to Cut Calories in Drinks

Serve Drinks in Tall, Skinny Glasses

According to Oregon State University, the shape of the glass you’re drinking out of really makes a difference! The diameter and height of glassware can distort our perception of how much we pour for ourselves and how much we consume. 

Pour your drink into a tall, slim glass, and if you want to be exact in your portions, use measuring utensils like a jigger to keep servings accurate.  An extra splash or two of vodka really does have extra calories!

large glass bowl of bottles of beer outside

Set a Limit to cut calories

Just like most healthy eating tips, moderation is key. Set yourself a two-drink limit before you leave the house and then switch to water. No amount of trying to reduce the caloric count of your summer beverages will help if you’re consuming too many of them.

Make Mocktails, Not Cocktails

Alcohol of all varieties is fairly high in calories. Many mocktails will use lighter calorie alternatives and might be a better choice for your summer beverage consumption. Not to mention the fact that you will stay more hydrated in the heat of summer if you skip the alcohol completely.

The cucumber ginger mocktail on 40 Aprons is a delicious way to enjoy a summer beverage without too many unnecessary calories.

Healthy sweetener stevia in liquid tablet dried and powder forms, plus real sugar lumps

Find Drinks with Light or Diet Options

There are many low-calorie options when it comes to summer cocktails. Light beer, lower calorie wines, and cocktails made with stevia instead of sugar would be good options to choose if you’re watching your caloric intake this summer.

Cocktails and citrus reamer and citrus fruit on slate tray with text 'Lower Calorie Summer Cocktail Tips'

Recipes for Low Calorie Cocktails

Here are a few basic tips for making low calorie cocktails and mocktails

  • Vodka Spritzer Recipe:  Cut calories in drinks by using stevia based water flavor enhancers.  Add 1 shot vodka and a few drops of Stur natural berry flavored water enhancer to a cocktail glass.  Throw in a few frozen berries. Pour in seltzer water and enjoy!
  • “Skinny” Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail: Make up a batch of True Lemon All Natural Low Calorie Lemonade.   In a glass, add in some thawed blueberries.  Crush them with a cocktail muddler or the back of a spoon.  Pour in one cup of lemonade and stir well.  If you don’t mind blueberry bits in your drink, add in one shot of vodka and a handful of ice cubes.  For a ‘cleaner’ look, strain before serving. 
  • Low Calorie Margarita Recipe: Not quite as good as the real thing but definitively lighter.  Add one shot of tequila and one shot of triple sec to a 16 ounce glass measuring cup.  Pour in one can of Mountain Zevia (the all natural lemon lime soda). Pour into ice filled serving glasses rimmed with salt and decorated with sliced limes.   Enjoy!

sliced oranges and fresh herbs in several cocktail glasses with orange cocktails

Enjoy Summer Cocktails Responsibly!

If you plan on making your own summer cocktails, consider making one with fewer calories than traditional cocktail recipes. With a little bit of planning and experimentation, you can enjoy light summer cocktails and have all the flavor with less of an impact on your waistline!

It won’t help to cut calories in drinks if you binge on junk food all night. Don’t forget to pair your drinks with healthy snacks and stock up on a few bar essentials that will make your cocktail creations easier to make.


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