According to a report by BacTrack, a company that manufactures breathalyzers, the months of December through March have the highest occurrence of days where the BAC was 0.06% or higher. Between the holidays and the colder weather we are imbibing at a higher rate this time of year.
While having a drink or two can be an enjoyable way to socialize and relax, it’s important to know the effects that alcohol has on our health and to be aware of the risks associated with drinking both short and long term.
On average the body can process about one alcoholic beverage per hour. After 1-2 drinks you may start to feel buzzed experiencing lowered inhibitions, flushed skin, and slightly impaired motor function. As you increase the amount of alcohol consumed in a short period of time your body is unable to process the alcohol fast enough causing blood alcohol levels to rise. You may exhibit signs of intoxication increasing in severity based on your BAC levels ranging from stumbling, severe mood swings, memory loss, and vomiting, to more severe and life threatening symptoms such as slowed heart rate, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, and choking.
Chronic long term alcohol consumption can have serious effects on your mental and physical health including but not limited to liver damage, cardiovascular disease, cancer, addiction, and mental illness.
For more detail on how alcohol can affect your physical both long and short term please read this blog from alcohol.org.
Most of us are aware of the risks we take when we drink and why it’s important to drink responsibly. To ensure you have an enjoyable but safe holiday:
- Be sure you always have water on hand. Alternate an alcoholic beverage with a glass of water to slow down your rate of alcohol consumption and prevent dehydration.
- Don’t drink on an empty stomach.
- Never drink and drive. Call an Uber, a taxi, or have a designated driver to ensure you get home safe.
- Partake in moderation.
It can be easy to lose track of your alcohol consumption while socializing, and as we all know, after a couple of drinks they start to go down easy! If you’re not careful not only will you find yourself more intoxicated than desired, but the calorie count can get pretty steep! We tend to be more mindful of the calorie content of our favorite holiday treats this time of year and don’t think twice about what we are drinking, however many of our favorite holiday beverages can have the caloric content of a small meal in just one drink! A few high calorie drinks can derail any efforts to stay on track with a moderate health focused diet.
Knowledge is power.
If you have a general idea on the caloric content of commonly used liquors, mixers, drinks, etc., you can make choose the best option that allows you to satisfy your holiday cravings while maintaining your goals.
First it helps to know the standard measurements used when calculating the calories you are consuming. We all tend to be a bit more “generous” with our pours!
One drink is recognized as:
- 12 fluid ounces of beer – approximately five percent alcohol
- Eight to nine fluid ounces of malt liquor – about seven percent alcohol
- Five fluid ounces of wine – roughly 12 percent alcohol
- One and one-half ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (vodka, rum, gin, tequila, whisky, etc.) – an estimated 40 percent alcohol
Below is a quick calorie guide for alcohol, mixers, and popular holiday cocktails:
- Liquor: per 1.5 ounces (40% ABV)
- Rum, vodka, bourbon, whiskey, tequila, gin: 97 calories
- Kahlua (26.5% ABV): 131 calories
- Bailey’s (17% ABV): 86 calories
- Juice: per 8 ounces
- Orange: 110 calories
- Cranberry: 110 calories
- Pineapple: 127 calories
- Grapefruit: 110 calories
- Pomegranate: 158 calories
- Apple: 110 calories
- Mixers: per 4 ounces
- Tonic water: 40 calories
- Soda water/club soda: 0 calories
- Coke: 50 calories
- Diet coke: 1 calorie
- ginger ale: 40 calories
- Sprite: 40 calories
- Lemonade: 50 calories
- Hot chocolate: 180-194 calories per 8 ounces
- White wine: 110-125 calories per 5 ounces
- Red wine: 110-130 calories per 5 ounces
- Sparkling wine/champagne: 90-125 calories per 5 ounces
- Red sangria: 145 calories per 5 ounces
- Mulled wine: 335 calories per 8 ounces
- Beer/Cider/Malt Beverages
- Light beer: 55-151 calories per 12 ounces
- Regular beer: 111-314 calories per 12 ounces
- IPA: 175-450 calories per 12 ounces
- Dark beer: 153-320 calories per 12 ounces
- Hard cider: 99-200 calories per 12 ounces
- Malt beverages: 109-220 calories per 12 ounces
- Popular Cocktails
- Rum and coke: 147 calories per 5.5 ounces
- Bourbon and ginger: 137 calories per 5.5 ounces
- Vodka tonic: 137 calories per 5.5 ounces
- Vodka soda: 97 calories per 5.5 ounces
- Vodka cranberry: 152 calories per 5.5 ounces
- Gin and tonic: 137-151 calories per 5.5 ounces
- Gin and soda: 97 calories per 5.5 ounces
- Moscow mule: 182 calories per 5 ounces
- White Russian: 425 calories per 5 ounces
- Eggnog (spiked): 340-440 calories per 6 ounces
- Hot buttered rum: 292-316 calories per 8 ounces
- Hot toddy: 130 calories per 8 ounces
- Spiked cider (wassail): 250 calories per 8 ounces
- Mexican hot chocolate: 252 calories per 8 ounces
- Irish coffee: 200-252 calories per 8 ounce
Now that you have a sense of just how many calories your favorite cocktail is packing, let’s talk about ways we can cut back!
- Keep it bubbly! – Soda or seltzer water can be a great mixer. It cuts the alcohol, but maintains that fun cocktail feel. Add in a few slices of citrus fruit and or mint for added flavor!
- Mind your mixers – Calories from soda and juice, the most common mixers, can add up quick! Reduce the amount of juice you use and replace with soda or seltzer water.
- Go diet – Diet soda is going to eliminate a lot of calories. Just remember that you can experience bloating if you go this route.
- Master moderation – This is kind of a no brainer, right? The fewer drinks you consume, the lower your caloric intake. It's simple, but not easy. When you’re practicing moderate and mindful eating (and drinking), you give yourself the freedom to enjoy all the treats the holiday has to offer within reason. It takes practice to maintain control and know when to pass on the next cookie or cocktail.
Here are a few lower calorie options to keep you festive and fit this holiday!
- Champagne – 90 calories
- Vodka Soda – 97 calories
- White Wine Spritzer – 75-96 calories
- Kir Royal – 104 calories
- Mulled wine - 115 calories
- Sparkling Fruit Sangria - 131 calories
- Dairy Free Egg Nog - 144 calories
Wishing you all a healthy and happy holiday season!