We know that after a long week of intense exercise you want nothing more than to wild out for the weekend. Truth is that a lot of what you could be drinking while you’re trying to have a good time can completely undo your hard work at the gym, not to mention sideline any of your healthy lifestyle habits. It’s easy to forget the massive caloric intake associated with a night of drinking, as well as its aftereffects—when’s the last time you’ve kept up your morning run after a night out? We thought so. Before you agree to another beer with the boys, think long and hard about what you’re putting into your body.
Most beer is a deadly pit for people looking to stay trim—there’s a reason they call it beer belly. Strong ciders and stouts, like Strongbow or Guinness, weigh in as the heftiest of brews at up to 200 calories per pint, making them effectively the same as drinking a very small loaf of bread. Pale lagers like Heineken and Beck’s do a bit better, coming in at around 130-150 calories per pint. However, there’s the allure of light beers, promising to keep you on the fitness wagon. They can, if you stay strong. They tend to hover around 100 calories per pint, and some have a slightly smaller alcohol content, which can reduce any last minute bad decisions to chug a few more. While we understand most of them taste foul, Skinny Dip by New Belgium has been getting good reviews, and clocks in at just over 100 calories.
If you’re going straight for the hard stuff right away, we understand. Maybe it’s been a hard week, maybe it’s just a bad day. Bottom line, you’re looking to not remember tonight. Well remember that most straight liquors feature just under 100 calories per shot, with whiskeys and Scotches being the worst criminals in this category, sometimes coming in at 110 calories a shot. However, liquors are nearly completely gluten-free, and have little carbs (which is not to say they won’t have a good dose of sugar). If you’re regulating your blood sugar level, or simply don’t want to crash as bad the next day, clear alcohols such as 100 per cent pure agave tequila or gin won’t spike you with the sweet stuff.
Ah, the strange, tempting world of cocktails. To say this is a mixed bag is an understatement. Some cocktails can be just as bad for you as a can of coke, while others barely even tip the scales. It comes down to common sense and a bit of forethought. Some margaritas come in at a staggering 800 calories, and most mudslides or pina coladas don’t do much better. Keep it simple with mixed drinks that feature mixers you know to be low in calories, such as fresh-squeezed juices or club soda. Vodka sodas, Manhattans and the like are low in calorie count, and don’t taste awful. If you’re hoping for something a bit sweeter, coconut water and rum pairs well, and won’t make you hit the treadmill for hours the next day.
Bottom line is alcohol can be good for you—your mental state, your social life, even your body—but only in moderation, of course. Doctors and dieticians have known this for a long time, and have no problem with many people having a glass of wine with dinner. It can help prevent heart disease, reduce risk of diabetes, stroke and gallstones. However, no drink is safe, and the consequences of overindulging go far beyond the state of your own health if it becomes a habit or you get behind the wheel. Think ahead, and stay safe.