We all know alcohol isn’t the best inclusion for optimal health and weight management, but Christmas and the New Year involve a lot of celebrations, and the good news is that you don’t have to miss out altogether.
Have a drink or two, but keep within these guidelines, as a little swap here and a little shuffle there can make all the difference.
Calories in a 120ml glass of white wine = 87kcal
Calories in a 120ml glass of red wine = 80kcal
Wine is great when drunk in moderation. The good news is that the fermentation process leaves minimal fructose when alcohol is formed from grapes. Choose red over white as it contains the lowest fructose content, plus it has the benefit of multiple antioxidants, which could help your body to neutralise some potentially harmful toxins in your body.
Calories in a single 25ml measure of malt whiskey = 64kcal
Calories in a single 25ml measure of Vodka = 50kcal
White spirits such as vodka and gin and dark spirits like rum and whiskey are low in fructose. Mix them with soda water and fresh lime and you have the perfect refreshing Christmas beverage. Also, Whiskey is a popular Christmas drink, usually drunk on the rocks or with a mixer. If you like it, try to stick to single measures and go for low-calorie mixers.
Calories in a pint of cider = 230kcal
Calories in a pint of lager = 164kcal
The sugar in beer is maltose and can be well metabolised by our bodies in comparison to fructose. It gets a bad rap, but it’s not that bad. It’s got much less calorific than most ciders, mixers and cocktails. However, keep in mind that with ciders, you have to factor into your diet that drinking more than two pints means you’ve consumed the same amount of calories as eating a meal.
Calories in a 120ml flute = 80kcal
Calories in a 120ml glass = 80kcal (but cheaper than champagne)
Unfortunately champagne and dessert wine don’t make the cut for the goodie-goods in the alcohol department. Both retain high amounts of fructose and should be drunk with caution. But what’s a Christmas dinner without a glass of bubbles? So by all means have one glass of champagne to toast, but then switch to vodka, soda water and lime.
Also, champagne has more sugar content than wine, i.e. more nasty hangovers.
Calories in a Pina Colada with cream and two shots of alcohol = 526kcal (as much as a Big Mac)
Calories in a Margarita with two shots of alcohol = 170kcal
Calories in a Long Island Iced Tea = 170kcal
Calories in a Cosmopolitan = 99kcal
While most cocktails are packed with sugar and empty calories, there are ingredients you can swap that will bring the calorie and sugar content down in your favourite cocktails:
- If you’re making coctails at home, and a recipe asks for sugar syrup, avoid it and add muddled fresh fruit instead.
- Avoid mixers such as soft drink, tonic water and fruit juice. These are very high in sugar and will just hike up the calorie content. Substitute with soda water, sparkling water or coconut water.
- Avoid cocktails with creamy liqueurs. Calories in a 37ml of Baileys = 129kcal – swap with dry sherry instead, which clocks off 80kcal for a 50ml serve.
- If your cocktail says it’s got ‘sugar syrup’ in it, ask the bartender to hold it and not include that.
- If you’re going for the big gun – Long Island Iced Tea – then reduce the calories in it by swapping the coke with cranberry juice or coconut water with a big squeeze of lemon.
- The safest and healthiest cocktail that you can order from the bar without making any adjustments is the Cosmopolitan – it’s got antioxidants (courtesy the cranberry juice), Vitamin C (lemon juice) and lowest calorie spirit.
- A great mixer to use (especially during Christmas and New Years) is coconut water! Use it instead of soda water, coke and sprite and see how delicious your drinks become. It’s definitely a personal favourite in the Phillips household.
Merry Christmas! (and drink responsibly)
What are your tips on reducing the calorie and sugar content in holiday cocktails?