My Favorite Diet Hack…

by Brad Pilon

I’d like to let you in on one of my all time favorite ‘diet hacks’

No,  it’s not fasting (that’s not really a ‘Diet hack’ – it’s more of a lifestyle)

Actually, it’s scotch.

Yep, good ol’ Scottish Whiskey (Irish is pretty darn good too, but I digress)

So you’re probably wondering how a ounce of the good stuff (neat of course) can be a diet hack?


It’ll save you calories…. lots of them.

An ounce of scotch has about 70 Calories. That’s less than a glass of wine (120 ish) and a bottle of beer (140 ish)…but that’s not the ‘Hack’.

The “Hack” is in the social graces of Scotch.

Let’s say you go out for drinks with your friends…guys order beer, the girls order wine and you order a scotch.

Right away, you’ll probably get some looks… mostly because people have this weird idea that an ounce of Scotch has a TON more alcohol in it then a bottle of beer or a glass of wine (which is false, they are all equal).

And this is where the ‘hack’ comes in.

You can ‘nurse’ a glass of scotch for an hour and no one will say anything.

(I’ve never been in the situation where I’ve been nursing a scotch and someone has asked me if I was ‘on a diet’)

In a social setting, for some reason Scotch trumps people’s crazy need to push you to keep up with them when they drink.

So your friends can be 3 beers into the night, or a half bottle of wine..and you can still be nursing your first ounce of alcohol, and no one will say anything.

In a hypothetical situation where you’ve had two ounces of scotch, while your buddy has had 6 beers, you’ve saved yourself well over 500 calories…and a whole bunch of bloating and probably a really crappy morning..

Bottom line – Obviously you could just have a water, but with this diet hack you get to enjoy a Scotch, nice and slow…the way you should enjoy it (Without ice of course)…you drink about 70 Calories while your friends drink hundreds of calories in their beer, wine and assorted mix drinks (Oh and you still get the anti-inflammatory actions of alcohol too, just without any of the extra calories).

In settings like weddings, or awkward family reunions, this could save you hundreds of unneeded calories, while still allowing you to be ‘social’.

Again, The obvious ultimate hack is water, but if you’re going to drink, you may as well drink the good stuff (just remember to drink it slow).

Drink Stop Drink


PS- No this is not an excuse to allow alcohol when you are fasting!


Matt September 3, 2010 at 2:09 am

Most of all you won’t have to worry about a DUI.

F.Baube September 3, 2010 at 3:28 am

None less than 12YO of course !

Frederic September 3, 2010 at 6:26 am

I just can’t help being annoyed over Americans’ (or Brits’?) “calories” misnomer, being 3 orders of magnitude off. Surely SOME of you must know that it’s actually KILOCALORIE (1000 calories) that you really mean to say? When you say “500 calories”, you actually mean “500 kcal” – five hundred THOUSAND calories. What is the excuse for the inaccuracy? That it’s “easier” to just say calorie even if it’s thousand times wrong? I wonder how you manage in biology and physics with this.

struct99 September 3, 2010 at 7:44 am

Brilliant! Thanks for a good tip.

Brent September 3, 2010 at 7:47 am

I’ve observed the same thing!

Nimai September 3, 2010 at 8:14 am

So true. I’ve been dieting on scotch for years. Definitely beats weight watchers…

Deborah September 3, 2010 at 8:37 am

I had no idea alcohol was anti-inflammatory!

I do love scotch.

Anthony September 3, 2010 at 9:29 am

Brilliant Post Brad! Always found beer to be my down fall when I go out. If you dont have a drink in Dublin, it’s always,”why aren’t you having a drink?” and dont even begin to say, “I’m trying to be healthy”. Your better off saying “it’s liver trouble”, even then you’ll have a hard time convincing! And once you’ve had a few beers, it’s always followed by fish and chips, another blow :)I try and stick to the micro breweries here in Dublin, the beer tastes better and you dont always get the chemical hangover the next day, plus you think it’s healthier 😉 But you’ve hit home with this one. I love whiskey, I’m not a big beer drinker, I’ve ordered whiskey a few times in Pubs, once I was told ” urr… the manager had to go down the store room to get this one for ya…! And your right,especialy when your freinds hear that, your whiskey will defintley be a trump, you sip while others guzzle beer after beer, for some reason it takes longer to drink, no heavy bloated belly, and best of all, which you pointed out nicley ( and I never knew this ) less calories! A brilliant hack! Think I’ll be sticking to the whiskey now…. Drink Stop Drink

Chris B September 3, 2010 at 10:22 am

This is a great idea, but I’m gonna have to go with a really good quality rum because I HATE Scotch! ;P

Brad Pilon September 3, 2010 at 10:24 am

I like when my Scotch is old enough to order a Scotch.

Brad Pilon September 3, 2010 at 10:24 am

Big bonus!

Brad Pilon September 3, 2010 at 10:27 am

Frederick, Calorie with a large “C” represent KILO Calorie in North America. This is accepted nomenclature…

Any failure to capitalize the C represents my horrible proof reading and not the general ignorance of all North Americans / Brits.

However, on behalf of everyone on the blog I would like thank you for your positive and professional comment.

Brad Pilon September 3, 2010 at 10:28 am


May I recommend Mount Gay Rum..


mike September 3, 2010 at 10:33 am

Totally agree with the scotch idea. I have also ordered a martini. In either case, my colleagues think that I am consuming far more than them, when they are downing 4+ microbrews.


Martha September 3, 2010 at 12:10 pm

What a great idea!

I turned 21 this year and have since been able to convince my family that I’m “just not interested in drinking alcohol.” Which is good because my family are huge holiday/celebratory drinkers. They always offer me a drink at least once out of courtesy, but after that they always leave me alone. Even my sister, who was really persistent in making me drink for the first few months after my birthday, has backed off.

Anyway… My right-from-the-get-go approach to declining drinks has been working well, but I was wondering what to do down the line when my young-goody-two-shoes behavior becomes more insulting than cute, like at a more formal business function with clients, or at somebody’s wedding.

So thanks.

PS. With regards to other comment: Non-capitalized “calories” is well understood to be “Calories”. Capitalization is pretty much only necessary in published academic journals, and high-school or college chemistry classes.

Deb September 3, 2010 at 3:58 pm

My dad’s suggestion was to drink (plain) soda water with a lime in it, or at least alternate. Gives the impression you’re drinking without the calories too.

BoozeGeek September 3, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Correction: 1.5 oz. of 80 proof alcohol, not 1 oz. is the equivalent of a 12 oz. 5% abv beer in alcohol content. Generally, you’ll get 1.5 oz of scotch when you order at a restaurant as well, or 95 Calories worth.

Also, since vodka, scotch, gin, etc don’t have any residual sugars after distillation, they all have the about the same 95 Calories per ‘drink’ or 1.5 oz. It’s also the same for the overwhelming majority (almost any non-Riesling) of wines, so per drink, only beer and mixed drinks are higher in Calories.

Brad Pilon September 3, 2010 at 5:01 pm

I’ve done this when scotch wasn’t an option…

tlyou September 3, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Hey, this is a great idea. I’ll begin with a Glenlivet…

Paula September 3, 2010 at 5:41 pm

This is a great tip, especially for people who really love Scotch. Also, Scotch is cool and sophisticated. Interestingly, I’ve found as I get older that wine has started to give me headaches, but I can still drink undiluted hard liquor without any problem.

Love the sign-off “drink stop drink”. That’s mainly why I commented.

Gráinne September 3, 2010 at 10:00 pm

I’ve been drinking vodka with diet Coke for years. Partly because I like it…but also because of the calories! Beer and alcopops etc just didn’t seem worth it. And the wine really adds up too.

Also, completely agree with your diet hack fail of eating healthy food before going out. I will ALWAYS find room for a nice meal and dessert, regardless of how many nuts or cruditees I’ve had beforehand. I’m actually better off eating very little before and saving I think!

Gráinne September 3, 2010 at 10:04 pm

And as for Frederic and his despair at nomenclature….I wasn’t aware that there was a prize for Pedantic Pat of the comments. The term calorie is in common usage to signify a kilocalorie. It may not be mathematically correct, but it is widely understood and I sincerely doubt it will cause confusion. I also doubt it will change anytime soon.

Kristina September 3, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Once again Brad you speak useful, realistic truth. I’m not a fan of scotch but maybe I’ve just never tried a good one….

Graham September 4, 2010 at 4:41 am

I find that a lot of wines made entirely with the cabernet sauvignon grape give me a headache, others don’t. Personally I would prefer brandy and taking it the traditional way of inhaling the aroma will prolong the pleasure. Interesting hack, thank you.

Kelly September 4, 2010 at 8:13 am

Great idea, Brad! I really don’t worry so much about what I eat or drink anymore. With ESE, it’s kind of a non-issue because I know that I could fast a few days through the week and be back on track. I don’t go out and drink every week, but when I do, I’ll stick to the margaritas! Loaded with calories I know, but then it’s eat stop eat to the rescue!

Dave September 4, 2010 at 10:46 am

How about bourbon? I don’t care for scotch, but love a good single-barrel bourbon…

Neal September 7, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Looks like comment yesterday didn’t make it past moderation. I commented that I’m a decently fit and trim 53yrld who consumes about 2000 calories of gin every night, year round…seriously. And from my experience, I don’t see this high consumption affecting my waist line. After 20 years, I would notice. Definitely not proud of the excess but it’s my routine at night about two hours before bed.

The problem with trying to research a link between alcohol and weight gain is sort of like one of the problems in researching HIV. You can’t infect a healthy, low risk factor patient for a study because it wouldn’t be ethical. Similarly, it probably wouldn’t be ethical to find out the long term effects of a 2000 calories/day diet of hard liquor. Here though, I have no idea what I’m talking about.

I think my daily eating habits seem pretty normal. I definitely don’t think I’m eliminating 2000 calories in my diet to balance out the gin calories.

Mommy1618 September 8, 2010 at 10:14 am

Weighing in kind of late, but eating beforehand is just a total waste of time because everyone, including me, would just eat the same amount, if not more at said event. There’s no such thing as discipline in such social settings. But as for whisky, what a great idea. Ordering and drinking a wee pint just makes you look sophisticated–beer or wine is just so trite. But this hack–well, let’s just say that the difficulty would lie in choosing which single malt. Decisions, decisions. Then again, though, ESE is always there to the rescue. Thanks, Brad!

Deb September 25, 2010 at 1:31 am

Geez I wish I’d read this post before going out with my girlfriends the other night! I had 4 sparkling wines in the course of the night (after abstaining for about 2 years since being pregnant and breastfeeding) and had the MIGHTIEST hangover. Would have much preferred to nurse a scotch or white rum instead! 🙂

chemist November 9, 2010 at 6:36 pm

To poster above angry about “calories”:

1 Cal= 1 kcal= 1000 cal.

You’ll notice they used capitalized Calories above and on nutrition information in “the states”. I agree the “dietary” Calorie vs. calorie is a bit of a stupid convention, but it is not inaccurate… Do some research before you pass judgment on an entire nation’s scientific aptitude.

AlekNovy November 21, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Easier hack. Stop caring what people think 😀 I drink mineral water when going out… Never drank alcohol, and no one questions it.

People only question you, if they sense anxiety in you and lack of congruence.

Joe J November 21, 2010 at 7:38 pm

Where do you get all your ideas? I like the cut of your jib. Strangely enough this issue has been gnawing at the back of my mind of late: after reading your EXCELLENT book (a life changing book) I’m on a quest to completely change my life – but I have been wondering how to implement these changes without becoming completely anti-social, or drawing attention to myself. Fantastic. Most blogs on the net are boring as hell; yours are both inspirational and informative. Cheers.

Brad Pilon November 21, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Excellent point

Parker November 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Great suggestion; Mark Sisson recommends nearly the same thing for similar reasons and it works well especially if you get a well aged, single malt Scotch (vs. the cheap stuff that should be reserved to de-ice aircraft windshields). You’ll pay a little more, but, the taste is worth it.

Muscle X Diet February 8, 2012 at 7:46 am

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