Lose the Weight, Not Your Social Life

One of the most frequent challenges I hear from DC professionals (or any city), with regard to losing weight or maintaining is participation in the social scene. DC drinks. And we love our food. This city has a rapidly blossoming culinary scene: 85 restaurants opened just during summer 2016!

Between epicurean adventures and mandatory work happy hours, the DC professional has an active social life(maybe over-active). Eating out and social drinking can have some pretty negative effects on our waistlines.

Starting with the elephant in the room: alcohol. The recommendations I make here are pretty obvious. It begins with knowing your drinking habits. Know what you love, but also what you tend to go overboard with.

If you're a beer drinker, go easy. Beer is very calorie dense, and because the alcohol content is less intense people tend to drink more of it. Just remember, 12 oz of even a lite beer still has around 100 calories. 

Avoid mixed drinks. The sugar does 2 things: increases calories and intensifies your hangover. Opt for a diet soda or a tonic water addition instead. A twist of lemon or lime can do wonders for the flavor.

When it comes to wines, not all are calorically equal. Surprisingly a Riesling might be your best bet.

When it comes to liquor, I recommend it on the rocks or neat, but I encourage you to drink your poison straight, no chaser. This will cause you to slow down. No, no shots. This is where I call you out for drinking to get drunk. If you can't responsibly sip it, you shouldn't be shooting it or mixing it.

I also recommend white over dark spirits for the lack of hangover. Try to let go of the nauseating memories of overdoing it on cheap tequila in high school or college. Good tequila drinks like a good scotch or whiskey, and demands the respect of a rock glass. There also happen to be a few benefits to drinking tequila as well, just don’t check Snopes. Stick to 100% agave and even the extra añejo’s should treat you well. Nothing quite as badass as tequila on the rocks with a squeeze of lime.

When it comes to eating out, one guiding principle when looking at the menu is that protein is king. If it doesn't have protein, I won't even consider it. If you find yourself in an hors d'oeuvre showcase, try to avoid the starches and the fats. Think Chicken satay or shrimp cocktail.

Beyond that, I try to stay lean: filet, chicken, fish. If the dish comes with a starchy side, don't be afraid to ask for steamed veggies. Most restaurants will oblige.

If you're really going for it, and your dining companions are going the whole three-course experience, I will frequently just order 2 appetizers. The portion sizes in apps are usually smaller, so you can clean your plate knowing you've consumed fewer calories. Trust me, you'll feel perfectly full. I like to have a salad and then something very protein heavy like a tuna tartar, or grilled octopus, or mussels.(I’m getting hungry just writing this!)

At the end of the day, this is all imperfect, but I will never tell someone to give up the nightlife just to lose weight unless they are absolutely ready to. There is a give and take that must be considered with every choice we make. Modifying your social behaviors might lead to reaching your goals more slowly, but it's probably better than going insane from the unsustainable strategy of cutting everything out completely.

Cheers. Sláinte. Skål. Salud.