Sensible sipping - 10 tips for keeping alcohol in check

Did you know that alcohol is the second most calorie-rich fuel available behind fat? To make matters worse, our body doesn't perceive alcohol as a food, so you don't feel full after a few high-calorie drinks. Instead, alcohol stimulates the appetite, and we don't usually make the healthiest food choices after a few drinks! 

Have a few strategies in place for when you drink alcohol to stay in control and keep the calorie count to a minimum.

  1. Avoid joining in on 'rounds'

    This allows you to choose the pace at which you drink. Try to keep to a maximum of 1 drink per hour for a max of 4 hours.

  2. Stay hydrated

    Make every second drink a water or mineral water, and you'll be thankful the morning after! If you want to avoid being harassed by your drinking buddies, add a lime wedge and ice so it looks just like a vodka lime soda.

  3. Drink Spritzers

    If you're drinking wine, why not add some mineral water and make it a spritzer (half wine, half mineral water). You will reduce your alcohol and calorie consumption, and still feel part of the party.

  4. Choose low carb or low alcohol options where available

    Alcohol companies are constantly making new products which are both low in carbohydrates and/or low in alcohol. These are better options. 

  5. Use low-calorie mixers

    When drinking spirits with mixers, our choice of mixer can increase the amount of calories we consume. Coke, ginger ale and lemonade are all full of sugar - switch to mineral water with lemon, or soda water with bitters.

  6. Avoid the creamy cocktails

    When drinking cocktails stick to fruity cocktails and avoid the creamy ones - generally speaking, fruity cocktails are lower in calories and fat.

  7. Eat a balanced meal before you go out

    If you are meeting friends for a drink, ensure you have eaten first. The food in your stomach will give your body more time to process the toxins and will decrease the stomach irritations which can lead to an unpleasant aftermath.

  8. Drink more expensive alcohol

    It has been said that life is too short to drink cheap wine. Not only does more expensive wine often taste better, but also it has fewer chemicals called congeners. Fewer congeners reduce the hangover. White wine has fewer congeners than red wine.

  9. Take aspirin before bed

    If you have overdone it, take 2 aspirins and a full glass of water before bed. Aspirin contains prostaglandin inhibitors which can decrease the hangover effect.

  10. Drink plenty of water when you wake up

    Before you have a coffee, have a big glass of water! Coffee will dehydrate you further and only make matters worse, so resist the temptation and you'll feel more alert for it.

The following list shows the calorie content of a range of drinks. Plan to limit the number of higher calorie drinks if you are actively trying to stay healthy.

Drink Number of calories
1 nip of spirit (30ml) plus a low-calorie mixer 60 calories
1 middy of light beer 70 calories
1 middy of regular strength beer 95 calories
1 small glass (150ml) of white wine 95 calories
1 glass (150ml) of champagne 95 calories
Small port or fortified wine (100ml) 95 calories
1 small glass (150ml) of red wine 100 calories
1 can (375ml) of vodka and orange 220 calories
1 can (375ml) of bourbon and cola 260 calories
1 cocktail 300 - 1200 calories


Written by Dr Naras Lapsys, Dietician.

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