Fun-loving Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas is not only the perfect party guest because she always knows which song to spin next, but she’s also got the inside skinny on the best cocktails. She’s the face of Voli Vodka, a line of lower calorie flavored vodkas. She told Chelsea Handler this fall that her daily vodka consumption varies by the week, saying, “If I have one drink a day, I feel better the next day than if I don’t drink at all. I’m just gonna start drinking daily.”
She’s clearly fit, firm and fabulous (Fergalicious to be exact), so how does she do it if she’s swilling vodka on a daily basis? Certainly her 4-6 workouts in the gym every week, but she’ll also tell you it’s because she’s not drinking just any vodka. She’s drinking Voli Vodka, which has 74 calories per shot. A standard shot of vodka has about 100 calories.
Sure, 26 calories is a fair savings when you’re drinking one cocktail or a few, especially daily. But does it really matter when they are still nutritionally void, empty calories? Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN, author of Read It Before You Eat It and nutrition expert in NY, says not so much.
“My take on this is that many people think that if you don’t chew — it doesn’t count — and that’s simply not true.” Those calories most certainly still count, and maybe more than most because they’re typically accompanied by a lot of sugar – like juice and other mixers.
We showed Bonnie the Fergatini, Voli’s branded version of a Cape Cod, with Voli Lyte, Fresh Lime Juice, and Cranberry Juice.
“Think about it — in this cocktail of 82 calories — only 1-1/2 oz or 1 jigger of vodka is used. How many of us pour just one shot?,” she asked. “That won’t happen at a friend’s party! It also only includes one ounce of juice. That rarely happens too because many of the calories in alcohol are contributed by the mixers.”
Voli isn’t the only brand pitching “diet” booze. Bethenny Frankel blazed that trail with her SkinnyGirl brand, with vodkas, pre-made cocktails, and wine. They advertise that the SkinnyGirl Margarita has only 38 calories. Wow! What a steal. Like most marketing though, look a little further and you’ll discover that’s for a 1.5 ounce (or single shot) of the cocktail. I don’t know anyone who drinks a shot of margarita. A standard 3.3-ounce margarita has 157 calories, which means this one still comes in at less than 80! But as Bonnie asserted, who’s having just one?
Moderate drinking has been linked with a broad variety of health benefits, namely red wine for heart health. Drinking certainly is not something we stand against, in fact we are regular creators of lighter cocktails ourselves. Where we see a problem is in the glamorization of “diet alcohol” and making people assume they can drink as much of they want of a Voli Vodka or SkinnyGirl Margarita because it’s “healthier.” If Americans aren’t likely to read the back of a Coke bottle to see that it has two servings, they’ll be even more blissfully unaware when a nutrition facts label doesn’t even appear on a bottle of liquor.
Nutritionist Connie Diekman, in a report by HealthDay this past fall, explained that even 100 unneeded calories per day from alcohol translates to a ten pound per year weight gain. We’re certainly not seeing that on the hips of Chelsea Handler, Fergie, or Bethenny, but they’ve got high-paid personal trainers and plenty of time to dedicate to the gym. For the rest of the world, you should sip your diet cocktails just as consciously as you would anything else with a health halo.