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How to enjoy a social sip and keep your health goals intact!
As we’re coming into the festive season, many of us may find it challenging to keep our health goals in check – especially if the cocktails and craft beers are flowing. You may already know that beer, wine and spirits contain calories. But the question is, how many? And is it possible to enjoy a social sip at the party and still maintain a healthy approach to the silly season?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the contents of your favourite tipple. You may be surprised to learn which alcoholic drinks carry the most calories.
But this is not about raining on your parade! We’ll also cover the healthier alternatives and swaps you can choose as well as what you can do to avoid peer pressure so you can stay within your limits or goals.
What is a standard drink?
A standard drink contains 10 grams of pure alcohol. It doesn’t make any difference whether it’s in beer, wine or spirits. And it also doesn’t matter if it’s mixed with soft drink, fruit juice, water or ice.
However, the quantity of standard drinks you consume does matter. In fact, it’s a serious health consideration. We all know alcohol can go far beyond a dreadful hangover the next day.
And even if you’re eating a nutritious diet, the amount of alcohol you may consume can make it more difficult to keep your healthy weight goals on track. This is because alcohol contains a lot of calories in a relatively small portion.
“Did you know? A standard drink contains 10 grams of pure alcohol – and this applies to wine, beer and spirits.”
Of course, a drink in moderation is fine, but if you can limit your alcohol intake not only will this impact positively on your weight, you can also avoid long-term chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and mental health issues. Remember, when it comes to alcohol consumption, you can help minimise your risk by drinking no more than ten standard drinks in a given week, and no more than four standard drinks in one day.
Not all drinks are created equal! What’s really in your drink?
Whether you enjoy a shot of Tequila to kick off your festive celebrations or a drop of red, the calorie content of your drink varies based on the ingredients.
Believed to be one of the oldest alcoholic drinks in the world, beer is also one of the most popular! Yeast is the magic ingredient which gives beer its alcoholic content. The barley/malt component is the ‘soul of beer’ and the grain gives beer its colour, consistency and texture.
Meanwhile, the ‘hops’ gives your favourite ale its spice and is responsible for the distinctive flavour and character. And then there’s the water! Water makes up 90% of beer – it can make a huge difference in flavour. Sugar is also added for extra aroma and taste.
Which beer has the highest calorie content including alcohol and sugar?
If you’re a fan of the ‘dry’ beers, you’re in luck. The beer with the lowest calorie content is usually the super dry variety labelled as ‘extra crisp’ or ‘extra dry’. This means that all the sugar is fully fermented so there’s no trace of sugar at all. So, all the calories are coming from the alcohol itself!
It can be chilled or not, red or rose, but wine is one of those alcoholic drinks that’s often paired with specific meals for that extra mouth-watering burst of complementing flavour. Based on wine grapes from different regions in the world, wine includes additives such as, tannins, pectins and acid blends. These are combined with water to regulate the amount of sugars present.
And if you’re a connoisseur, you’ll know that there are several elements to a glass of wine that explain its unique flavour including, acidity, sweetness, alcohol, tannin and aroma compounds that are produced in the fermentation process.
Which wine has the highest calorie content including alcohol and sugar?
If you love the occasional glass of chilled chardonnay with your evening meal or as a treat during Sunday lunch, you’ll like this result. According to its calorie content per 100ml, Shiraz has the most calories per 100ml at 543kJ or 130 calories – and chardonnay has 356kJ 85 calories per 100ml.
Enjoyable on their own or served with plenty of ice, spirits are as varied as the drinks they can go in. And while the distilling process for spirits is similar to wine, the main ingredients for each type differ giving each one a unique flavour.
There’s juniper berry for gin, malted barley for whisky, potato for vodka and blue agave for Tequila.
Which spirit has the highest calorie content including alcohol and sugar?
While all spirits are not produced in the same way, gin, Tequila, whiskey and vodka can contain similar amounts of calories. To make sure that you’re consuming an alcoholic beverage that contains the least amount, try choosing a drink that’s been mixed with a healthier, low-sugar option.
Join the sober-curious movement – and enjoy delicious alcohol-free cocktails!
If you’re keen on reducing your alcohol consumption this festive season – or maybe you don’t enjoy drinking – the sober-curious movement could be ideal for you. The drinking game is quickly changing as more and more people are making the conscious decision to go dry when they go out – or stay in. In fact, it’s becoming quite the popular choice . Based on recent studies, 24% of Australians aged 25-29 are making
the choice to abstain from alcohol. And in recent years, there’s been a rise in alcohol-free bar hopping for the ‘sober-curious’.
More and more bars and restaurants now offer non-alcoholic cocktail options – or mocktails – on their drink menus so you don’t feel like you’re missing out or like you need to drink!
Drinks with soda water and additions like lemon and lime are easily being disguised as vodka soda and lime or gin and soda. There’s even non-alcoholic versions of wine and beers to try.
The new breed of non-alcoholic drinks contain natural essences including:
And if you love bubbly drinks try a glass of kombucha or flavoured mineral waters which are great options if you want to watch your calorie intake.
“A recent study found that 24% of 25 to 29-year-olds are drinking less and choosing more mocktails and soft drinks on a night out.”
How to steer clear of peer pressure
As the whirl of festive social events picks up pace, some of us may feel the pressure of going alcohol-free over the season or keeping your drink minimum in check. Peer pressure can also be especially strong this time of year.
There are strategies you can try so you don’t succumb to ‘group-think’ such as:
- Drink mocktails – that look like the ‘real thing’
- Nominate yourself as the designated driver for the night
- Pick a good friend for some extra moral support.
And if you’re still uncomfortable, it may just be easier to leave early if you can!
Enjoy the silly season and your favourite drinks – in moderation.
Celebrating with our friends and family should be an enjoyable experience that isn’t based on how much alcohol we consume. It’s all about moderation. And, as a general rule, drinking less is better for your health in the long run – you can minimise your chances of developing a chronic condition like heart disease, cancer and mental health issues.
If you’re watching your weight, choose the alcoholic drinks that are lower in calories like white wine and dry beer. And if you’re looking to try an even healthier option, consider joining the ‘sober-curious’ movement for a few nights out and choose a delicious non-alcoholic drink – there’s never been such a fantastic variety in bottle shops, bars and clubs. Remember, it’s okay not to drink and know your limits.
So, when you feel the pressure of joining the noisy revellers this festive season, keep your health intentions in check and notice the difference!
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified healthcare professional.
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