Can a Night Out Lead to Thousands of Extra Calories?

With patio season finally upon us, I thought we could all use a few tips on healthier socializing this summer.

Many people have no idea that one drinking occasion can lead to the consumption of hundreds or even thousands of extra calories. A standard 1.5oz drink (40% alcohol) is approximately 120 calories before even considering the mix; a 5 ounce glass of wine is roughly 125 calories and a 12-ounce bottle of beer is 153 calories (light beer is 103). And don’t forget the high-calorie snacks many of us eat when we’re drinking alcohol, attributing to the infamous “beer belly”. Pretty much the only time I’d ever contimplate eating poutine, is during a night out downtown. Alcoholic drinks are made by fermenting & distilling natural starch & sugar; calories from alcohol are ’empty calories’, they contain no nutritional value.

Beyond the caloric issues, drinking alcohol also:

Healthier Drinking*Reduces the amount of fat your body burns for energy. Your body can’t store alcohol so it wants to get rid of it right away. All other processes that should be taking place (including absorbing nutrients & burning fat) are haulted until it’s disposed of.
*Leads to a bad sleep. Alcohol may help you nod off, but even couple drinks can affect the quality of your sleep. Many of us have experienced the feeling of waking up after a night of drinking, feeling like we haven’t slept at all. This is because we go straight into a deep sleep, missing out on first stage of sleep, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. In a normal night, we go through 6 – 7 cycles of REM sleep; after drinking, we typically go through only 1-2 cycles, leading us to wake up feeling exhausted.

Try these 4 tips for healthier socializing this summer:

1. Monitor your mix. Keep sugars & calories in your mix down (Club Soda = 0 calories) by using ‘light’ alternatives and natural juices; fill your glass with ice first; add water to all drinks.
2. Track yourself. Count the number of times you’re drinking in a month and try reducing the frequency over time. Count & measure the amount of alcohol you’re consuming each time.
3. Pace yourself. Consume no more than 1 alcoholic drink hourly and have 1 glass of water in between each drink to stay hydrated.
4. Consume healthier snacks. Prepare healthy snacks a head of time. Try a veggie platter with a light sour cream based dip or hummus; rice crackers with salsa; summer rolls or lettuce wraps or fruit platter with yogurt dip.

There are lots of fun and exciting things to do in the spring and summer weather that don’t involve drinking on a patio. Get out there and explore your city! Please share your healthy summer ideas with me here.

Author: Lindsay Atkinson