Occasional drinking has clear health benefits. And, I’ll be the first to admit that I enjoy my fair share of whiskey, beer, and wine. Problem is, drinking too much, too often can make it especially difficult to manage your weight (amongst other adverse consequences). While alcoholic beverages are derived from simple sugars and starches, they actually contain more calories than these carbohydrates.

In fact, every gram of alcohol yields about seven calories, which is almost twice as much as the four grams generally yielded by sugars and starches.

Over time, these calories can really add up and, ultimately, lead to unwanted weight gain.

Related Article: What You Should Know About Carbs and the Glycemic Index

Lucky enough, there are ways to stop this from happening. So, if you tend to drink when socializing, relaxing or celebrating, here’s how you can do so without gaining weight.

Count and Measure Your Drinks

Since alcoholic beverages are relatively high in calories, failing to track your drinks can really sabotage any efforts to manage your weight. It’s also important to measure your drink portions and remember how they look so you’re always able to keep them in check. A portion is simply how much of a beverage is in your glass. Becoming familiarized with standard glasses and drinkware for the drinks you commonly consume can make this process an easy one.

Related Article: Understanding the Process of Weight Management

An average mixed drink contains about 300 calories per 8-ounce portion. If you don’t track what you drink, you can easily consume in excess of 1,000 calories in a single sitting. By making an effort to count and monitor your drinks you’ll naturally cut down.

Choose Your Beverages Wisely

High-proof drinks (spirits) like whiskey, vodka, gin and rum, tend to be the highest in calories due to their rich alcohol content. For weight management, better to stick with dry wines, light beers and other low-proof drinks, as their calorie counts are relatively modest. Interestingly, moderate intake of wine has been shown to protect against weight gain while spirits are more closely associated with weight gain, particular when they’re mixed with sugar-dense liqueurs, syrups, juices, and sodas.

Related Article: Dietary Sugar: The Good, The Bad and The Unnecessary

If you’re generally a fan of spirits, opt for mixers that contain little to know sugar like sparkling water or even freshly squeezed citrus fruits.

Avoid Drinking on an Empty Stomach

Alcohol stimulates appetite, which can substantially increase your calorie intake during and even after meals. Increased appetite is a real enemy of weight management and can over time lead to weight gain, especially if you regularly overeat. Increased appetite can also lead to more drinking opening the door to other adverse consequences that span beyond excess calorie consumption and unwanted weight gain including poor judgment, erratic behaviors and even blackouts.

Related Article: Natural Ways to Suppress Hunger and Appetite for Weight Loss

These effects are best avoided by consuming alcohol sensibly and while you’re fully satiated.

Drink Water with Alcoholic Beverages

Gulping down a full glass of water in between drinks helps reduce your desire for more alcohol. In general, alcohol drinking can lead to dehydration due primarily to frequent urination, as alcohol is a diuretic. Dehydration is characterized by extreme thirst, which, if you’re not careful, can prompt more alcohol drinking. In addition, since signs of thirst and hunger are very similar, confusing signs of thirst with those of hunger can easily lead to overeating and, ultimately, weight gain.

Related Article: Why Water is More Important Than Food

Drinking plenty of water with alcohol beverages can greatly minimize dehydration while also increasing the feeling of fullness in the body reducing an urge to overeat.

Now, at the end of the day, it’s really no secret that drinking alcohol can lead to unwanted weight gain. This is why alcohol and dieting generally don’t mix well. By implementing these simple strategies you can engage in occasional drinking without gaining a pound. These strategies will also help you avoid the negative effects of alcohol that tend to emerge in excessive drinking.