It's fizzy, flavorful, and easy to drink on a hot summer day! Hard or spiked seltzers are undeniably the drink of the summer!! Just like everything else we eat and drink, here at The Limitless Lifestyle Academy, we like to know WHAT is in our summertime beverages. The more you know, the better decision you'll be able to make about what you're drinking this summer.
You might be surprised to find out that your favorite hard seltzer does not contain a distilled spirit, such as vodka or gin. How is that possible? Hard seltzers are actually classified as flavored malt beverages. They're similar to a very famous hard lemonade or Smirnoff Ice and are produced similarly to beer. YES, beer! Which is why you see breweries making their own hard seltzer!
A little sugar is added to carbonated water (seltzer) and then fermented using yeast. The yeast likes the sugar and creates the alcohol in the beverage. Some companies may also use barley or rice as a fermentable base instead of sugar. Toward the end of the process, natural or artificial flavors are added along with citric or malic acid and a small amount of sugar to help with the taste.
Flavored malt beverages (Smirnoff Ice, Hard Lemonade, etc.) and hard seltzers are made the using the same process, but their characteristics are different. Yes, all FMBs are low ABV. Most are between 4-6%.
What's ABV? Its alcohol by volume, the percentage of alcohol in a beverage or container. A lower ABV means the drink is not as strong, and in the case of hard seltzers, it may make them easier to drink. 4-6% ABV is the lowest you can go for beverages and is similar to many light beers.
The real difference is the sugar in the White Claw, Truly, or Bon and Viv. There is little or no added sugar, which helps keep the calories and the carbs low; most brands are between 90-120 calories per can. At most, they contain 1 or 2 grams of sugar per serving. For example, Smirnoff Ice contains 32 grams of sugar, while Smirnoff's hard seltzers are sugar-free. Many brands have 1-2 grams of carbs compared to 26g of carbs for Smirnoff ice.
Now, let's get into some real talk. Hard seltzers are NOT HEALTHY! Although they might be marketed that way, all and any alcohol should not be considered good or better for you. Many brands try to make their products adjacent to health or wellness because of the low carbs and calories. It's like Halo Top ice cream: we know its not the real thing, and not actively good for you, but branded with the idea that it's a healthier option that comes in handy single-portion servings. They're also branded to be compliant with fad diets such as keto or paleo.
If you enjoy Truly, keep drinking them, but it's good to put things in perspective and drink in moderation. It's important to be aware of how much you're drinking. It's easy to overindulge because they're light, easy to drink, and low in carbs/calories, but alcohol is a diuretic and will dehydrate your body.
On hot days, these seltzers should not replace proper water intake. Just like any alcoholic beverage, alternate them with plain water. Also, alcohol can be harmful to your wellness goals if you partake too much. This is not just because of empty calories but of what it does to your body internally, specifically within the liver. All fat burning stops when alcohol is in your system, and your body will not build muscle.
If you're working on your body composition, this can be a problem if it happens regularly. Carbs, sugar, ABV of the beverage will not change this. It's just what happens when your body is trying to process alcohol, no matter what the type.
We would never tell you not to drink something at The Limitless Lifestyle Academy, but we will recommend alternatives.
At The LLA we're making our own cocktails! Choose your favorite spirit (ideally clear liquor) and add club soda. Homemade drinks allow you to pick a club soda you like, and you can control the amount of alcohol in the glass. Also, you'll know exactly what is going into your beverage because you made it!
To put things in perspective, 1.5 ounces of vodka is 96 calories and 24g of carbs; the club soda has no calories or carbs. If you like to squeeze a little lime, it won't change these numbers much. The big difference between a White Claw and a vodka soda is the amount of carbs.
To balance this, we encourage you to plan your day and meals, knowing you'll be having a drink or two that day so you can have the refreshing cocktail. A little more carbs are worth a delicious handmade cocktail with a fresh squeeze of citrus, but if you like hard seltzers, crack one open and enjoy!
It's all about planning and macro counting to get the right amount of carbs, fat, and protein for your body. Once you learn that, you can learn to enjoy what you eat and drink in a SMART way.
Learn more about flexible lifestyle nutrition and finding balance here!