For us here in the UK, December is perhaps the busiest month on the social calendar. Many of us will enjoy an end-of-year party with our work colleagues, catch up with friends after some Christmas shopping, and spend days visiting family.
And of course the culmination of December is marked by perhaps the biggest social event of them all: New Year’s Eve.
The monetary cost of so many engagements is one we’ll usually forecast for and anticipate. However, many people won’t consider the calorific cost of December until the time comes to sign up for the gym in January; by which point, there’s going to be some work to do around the treadmill.
And calorie intake isn’t just defined by how many roast dinners and panettone servings you can rack up during Christmas week. Alcohol plays a huge part too, and New Year’s Eve is the night on which we’ll consume the most.
The Calories in Your Drink
There are seven calories per gram in (pure) alcohol, which is not far at all behind the nine calories to be found in one gram of fat. What’s more, calories in alcohol are ‘empty’ in that they provide no nutritional value.
Of course, alcohol is consumed in various forms. Some drinks, whether it is due to their alcohol content or their diluting constituents, are more calorific than others.
Just as it can be useful to know how many calories are in your Christmas lunch and the elements which comprise it, it can also be useful to know how many are in your regular tipple.
That’s why we put together the following; a chart detailing the calorie count of 20 of the most popular drinks in the UK (click to enlarge).
- Unsurprisingly, the Zombie comes in with the highest calorie count, at a whopping 371 calories.
- In second place is the Amaretto Sour, with 361 calories.
- A White Russian checks in at third place with 239 calories.
The cocktails are undoubtedly the biggest hitters per serving in the calorie department. The top two on the chart contain around twice as many calories as a pint of bitter, which is no slouch at 190 calories.
Is it common for someone to drink cocktails all night? We all have different habits. But I don’t think it’s wildly out of the question for someone to drink three (if not more) over the course of a night out to mark a special occasion such as New Year’s Eve; and three White Russians would add up to over 700 calories.
Three large glasses of red wine, adding up to one bottle, still packs a calorific punch, at over 600 calories.
To give you an idea of the calorie content we’re discussing here, there’s around 350 calories in one serving of homemade spaghetti bolognese.
So the calories you drink on a night out can easily add up to and even exceed those found in a main meal. This can obviously prove to be something of a stumbling block for those trying to monitor their calorie intake, and potentially even more so for those following a weight loss programme to stay healthy.
Tactical Drinking Advice
As we’ve mentioned before, the key to healthy drinking is moderation. The NHS recommends women drink no more than 2-3 units per day, and men no more than 3-4 units per day; with at least two or three days off each week.
(Just for clarification, there are three units in a large glass of wine, and three in a pint of strong beer, lager or cider. A large single shot of spirits contains about one and a half units.)
Throughout the rest of the year, moderation is certainly a practicable tactic. But what about those occasions, such as New Year’s Eve, where you know the night is going to be a long one?
- Pacing yourself is one approach. That means not rushing drinks down in an effort to catch up with everyone else if you’ve arrived late.
- Selecting drinks which are customarily served in smaller amounts (such as opting for bottled beer over draft, and smaller glasses of wine over large glasses) will help to make each round a less calorific one.
- You might also try making every other drink a low calorie non-alcoholic drink, or a water.
- Keep in mind too that drinks like tequila and Jagermeister are alcohol dense and so still contain a fair amount of calories, despite their small stature. So if you’re looking to keep your calorie intake in check, there’s nothing wrong with opting out of a round of shots.
- Timing your exit well is another option. At some stage, proceedings may move from a pub or a restaurant to a cocktail bar; at which point the more calorific, elaborate drinks will become a temptation (if not a necessity due to the limited range of drinks on offer). Calling it a night before this will help to stop your calorie intake for the evening from getting out of hand.
Provided you’ve made your way home and stopped drinking at a somewhat reasonable hour, hopefully the morning after won’t be such a painful one.
Still, it’s important after a heavy night to stay hydrated, and to give your body a complete rest from alcohol for at least 48 hours. And, quite importantly, try not to undo all your good work by opting for high calorie hangover food!