With New Year’s Eve right around the corner I wanted to take some time to tell you my recommendations about alcohol. I realize I probably should’ve written this the week before Thanksgiving or around Christmas, since visiting family members tends to create a really great excuse to start drinking at 9 am, but here we are.
Before we get into the drinks, be sure to eat normally and balanced throughout the whole day! Don’t try to “save” calories for alcohol—food calories and alcohol calories aren’t equal. Alcohol should never replace food, so alcohol will always put you over your energy needs for the day. No big deal, it’s one day, but I’m hoping this different way of thinking about alcohol calories can help you in dealing with this topic. With that in mind, you do want to be careful to pick lower calorie drinks. Alcohol is 7 calories per gram (fat is 9 calories per gram and protein and carbs are 4 calories per gram) PLUS whatever else is in the alcoholic drink. Try to mix hard liquor with a low or no calorie mixer. It’s hard to know exactly the calories for each individual alcohol because the FDA doesn’t regulate alcohol, so it doesn’t have to follow the same rules as normal drinks or food, but here are some general calorie estimations for alcoholic drinks:
- 5 ounces of wine ~140 calories
- 1 bottle of wheat beer ~170 calories
- 1 bottle of a stout or IPA ~200 calories
- 1 bottle of a light beer ~75 calories
- 1.5 ounces of hard liquor ~100 calories
So let’s say someone has 6 IPAs, that’d be 1200 calories. A bottle of wine is 700 calories-ish, but wine can be pretty variable.
Calories aside, the byproduct of breaking down alcohol is acetaldehyde, which is a cancer causing toxin (yikes) and even though your body gets rid of it ASAP, the brief amount of time that it’s present in your body is what causes the whole-body-yuck feeling of a hangover. It’s also why some people throw up or get diarrhea after drinking too much; your body is amazingly smart and wants these toxins GONE. Breaking down alcohol is primarily the job of the liver, which is why the liver is what suffers when someone chronically drinks too much and is why alcohol consumption creates high triglycerides, because they’re made by your liver and your liver is just trying its best to turn alcohol into something that’s not toxic.
I had to tell you all of the buzz kill education stuff before I told you about this really delicious paloma recipe I made so that you’d be chill about it and drink in moderation because it’s seriously so good.
- Grapefruit juice
- Lime juice
- Fresh Rosemary
- First, make this super easy rosemary simple syrup by boiling equal parts water and sugar and sticking in some rosemary sprigs while it heats up. Once the sugar is all completely dissolved, let it cool down and take out the rosemary sprigs.
- Next, salt the rim of your glass, if you’re into that, by dipping the rim of the glass in water and then dipping it in salt.
- Now, take 1.5 ounces of tequila, 1.5 ounces of grapefruit juice, 0.5 ounces of lime juice, 0.5 ounces of your fancy rosemary simple syrup and either shake them with ice or pour them over ice, whichever you prefer. Garnish with a wedge of grapefruit and a sprig of rosemary.
A great way to enjoy alcohol in relative moderation is to have a glass of water in between every alcoholic drink. The fact that you have to break up your alcohol consumption with water will automatically slow you down, plus having plenty of water will help you not feel as hung over the next day, win-win!
-Jen Lyman, RDN, LD, CLT