Let’s just put it out there—calling any alcohol “healthy” is a bit of a stretch, and after weight loss surgery, we are more sensitive to the effects of alcohol than before. But that doesn’t mean there’s absolutely no place for the occasional drink in a healthy post-WLS lifestyle.
To point you in the right direction, check out these 6 alcohols that dietitians* recommend as best for blood sugar balance, gut health and more:
1) Least amount of sugar: Vodka and gin
Clear liquors like vodka and gin have the fewest calories and the least amount of sugar which means they’re easier for our bodies to metabolise. Mixers can quickly pile on the calories, so be mindful of what’s in that cocktail.
- Calories per shot: about 100
- Sugar per shot: 0 grams
2) Best for blood sugar balance: Tequila
Tequila is agave-based and it shares the low-sugar, low-calorie benefits of other clear liquors. It may also help balance blood sugar, compared to other alcoholic beverages thanks to a naturally-occurring sugar in the agave plant that serves as a dietary fiber.
- Calories per shot: about 64
- Sugar per shot: 0 grams
3) Highest antioxidants: Red wine
You just knew red wine would make the list, didn’t you!? That’s because red wines contain polyphenols and antioxidants.
- Calories per five-ounce serving: roughly 100-160 calories
- Sugar per serving: less than one gram
4) Best for pacing yourself: Champagne
This is a good pick for portion control. The bubbles mean people tend to sip more slowly and feel fuller faster, so you’re less likely to go back for another flute.
- Calories per four-ounce serving: around 85
- Sugar per serving: less than two grams
5) Probiotic benefits: Hard kombucha
Hard kombucha makes for a fresh, buzzy, subtly boozy drink that’s notably rich in probiotics. Keep in mind that alcohol content, calories, and sugar will vary by the brand, so check the label first.
6) Highest botanical diversity: Craft beer
This artisanal twist on mass-produced beer emphasizes quality and flavor, which means greater botanical diversity and a potential for more antioxidants.
- Calories per 12-ounce bottle: between about 200-300 calories
- Sugar per 12-ounce bottle: 0 grams (varies by brand)
Know the risks of alcohol post-WLS
With the dramatic reduction of food consumption after bariatric surgery, some people may trade their food addiction for other addictive behaviors, including drugs, shopping, gambling, sex and alcohol.
Keep in mind your commitment to a healthy lifestyle after weight-loss surgery, and be mindful that:
- Even small amounts of alcohol can cause intoxication and low blood sugar
- Never drink and drive, even after consuming only minimal alcohol
- Only drink with meals or while eating to help slow absorption of alcohol
- Be aware of the calorie content of alcohol
If you find yourself drinking regularly to cope with emotions or stress, know that you are not alone and that help is readily available. Speak with your dietician, therapist or doctor for advice.