Yes, You Can Eat, Drink and Still Shrink

A smart person’s guide to alcohol in the party season

New Year parties are not where you want to start counting calories, but is there a way to have a good time and avoid the muffin top around your waist? Here are some smart drinking tips to help you par-ty without regrets:


Go slow, alcohol has calories too!
Binge drinking can give you more than a buzz—excess calories, hangovers, weight gain, liver toxicity… also, result from drinking too much. Here’s how you can circumvent this and minimise the damage. 


Don’t drink on an empty stomach 
Always eat some solid carbs (pasta, potatoes, a dal soup, sprouts or some poha before you go to the party. A lined stomach holds better when you dump alcohol into the mix. Both protein and carbs work before and along with the alcohol. But avoid fatty food please, skip the fried onion rings and pop roasted peanuts instead. 


Choose your cocktail carefully 
Choose your cocktails carefully. Beware of the Bloody Mary, it can have as much as 2 tsp, which is much higher than the recommended total daily intake of 1 tsp salt. Also, pay attention to the size. Those giant-sized cocktails are huge calorific bombs. Some like Long Island Iced Tea have close to 600-800 calories in them, Yes, per glass! Be careful with cocktails that mix too many spirits—for example whiskey and gin with some wine etc. as they pile on not just alcohol but calories too. Choose from low-calorie drinks such as a wine spritzer (soda and wine), mimosa (orange juice and champagne) or a sangria made with fresh fruit and juice, club soda and wine) are all near about 100 calories in 150 ml of drink. Also, tell the bartender to stick to fresh fruit (and juice) and avoid canned juices, aerated drinks, sugar syrups, energy drinks.


Know what alcohol works (or doesn’t work) for yo
Some of us are feeling merry with just a little bit of bubbly. That’s because thanks to the bubbles the alcohol enters the blood more quickly and tends to get absorbed faster. If that happens to you, skip it. The snob value be damned. And if you get a headache with red wine, then you might suffer from the Red Wine Headache (RWH) syndrome It’s always a good idea to find a type of wine that you enjoy (and that doesn't give you a headache), and stick with it.


Why clear drinks are better than coloured
Remember this, pure alcohol is clear. Clearer the spirit, the better for your system. So whichever drink you choose (beer, wine, rum), the darker your drink, the more congeners (extra components) it contains, which can leave you feeling more hung-over the next day. As a rule, the lighter the colour, the fewer congeners it is likely to contain (vodka and gin are better than whisky for this reason). Congeners affect blood vessels directly, producing migraine-like effects and intensifying a hangover. Also, a cheap red wine hangover is absolutely the worst. Besides red wine, avoid brandy also: in addition to alcohol, they contain methanol (wood alcohol), which is even harder to break down.


How to pick your can of beer
Choose your beer carefully. They are extremely high in calories – about 150 calories for a can of regular beer. Light beers with lesser alcohol pack about a 100 calories per can. But that said, be careful as a light beer is lower in alcohol, you may end up knocking a few more back— and consuming more alcohol, and calories. 


What you should avoid adding to your drinks 
Avoid caffeine, as it increases the amount of alcohol you absorb. Alcohol is a stimulant and a relaxant—it is going to make you sleepy. Coke and most energy drinks are caffeine-loaded—they work to make you stay awake. When you mix alcohol with Coke, your body and brain are in turmoil—they are working in opposite directions. This is a recipe for feeling really drab later. Plus, it increases the amount of alcohol you absorb. So, understand that coke is not a good mix for your rum. There! 

Secondly, try not to mix your drinks too much. Beer after whisky after wine, before a tequila shot… is a really bad idea (and gives you a bad hangover!) If you move from a beverage with low alcohol to higher alcohol content (from beer to whiskey? Stay off) 


Why you should stick to favourites at a party 
Find alcoholic fruit punches just so confusing? Well, they are… because you don’t really know what all is going in there! In any case, a party (or any social gathering) is the worst possible place and time to try out a new drink (too big a risk!). 


Why chugging is a bad idea 
Please don’t participate in "chugging" contests or other drinking games. Not a place to show bravado. Why? ‘Coz while a few drinks may help you relax, an excess can lead to something termed as alcohol stupidity… loose tongue and social embarrassment.    


A guide to drinking (less) at parties  

1. Start with a juice, preferably fresh: juice on ice, tonic on ice, a splash of lemon soda with ice. This way you will hydrate yourself before you begin drinking.  


2. Keep topping up your glass with mixer—not the sugar-laden ones such as canned juices or aerated drinks. Top with ice and water or lime juice.  


3. Always alternate a glass of water with alcohol. This will help you pace the drinks better and keep your hydrated. 


4. Accept a drink only when you really want one. If someone tries to force a drink on you, refuse, or "lose" your drink by setting it down somewhere and leaving it.


5. Engage in activities—participate in games, hit the dance floor or have active conversations, that way you’ll keep yourself busy with other interesting activities and not keep hitting the bar ever so often. However, stay away from chugging contests and shot challenges. 


6. Eat food while you drink. High protein foods such as kebabs, cheese and peanuts, will help slow the absorption of alcohol into your body.


Image: Shutterstock 

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