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Happy Hour Hidden Calories

Posted May 20 2011 11:29am
Happy Friday Everyone!!!
Friday Happy Hour is a New York City (or insert your own town or city) staple, and you will find HORDES of people in bars and restaurants taking advantage of those $1 Beer or 2-for-1 drink specials. But be careful, there are tremendous amounts of hidden calories in drinks! Mostly in the form of added sugar and juices, but also in the alcohol itself. Alcohol by itself has about 7 calories per gram (Fat has about 9 cal/gram, carbohydrates and proteins have 4 cal/gram- so alcohol is a little closer to fats on the cal/gram scale). Below are some Happy Hour favorites and their associated calories. All beverage information has been obtained from www.mypyramid.gov - the USDA Dietary Guidelines website, and more specifically http://www.mypyramidtracker.gov/planner/index.aspx which is an EXCELLENT calorie tracker. 

Gin and Tonic (8 oz): 182 calMargarita: 270 cal (for a 4 oz drink) - 425 cal (**WATCH OUT for portion sizes here- some "regular sized" margaritas can serve 3 people!! Also watch out for frozen margaritas which typically have more added sugars than those on the rocks)Beer (can, 8 oz): 100 cal light beer, 150 cal regular beerSangria (8 oz): 164 calMartini- regular (4 oz): 260 cal (add in juices and mixers and you have increased the calories by ~120)Wine (standard wine glass): 115 cal average among the different varieties (more for the sweeter wines)
Does this mean you should skip Happy Hour? No. Absolutely not! You can enjoy Happy Hour by using some of the following tips:1. Watch Portion Size: Like I said above, some of those margaritas are mammoth! If you feel like you have just consumed 2 margaritas- or any other drink - in that one glass, you probably have. So ask yourself if you actually need another one. Or in this case, two.2. Slow down: For every 2 drinks my friends are able to down, I am able to polish off only one because I just drink really slowly (mostly because I talk a lot!). That means I have lasted the evening on fewer drinks, and thus saved myself calories and money. 3. Avoid the free food: Fried cheese, fried potatoes, fried tortillas, fried meat. Avoid it. If you need to graze a little, graze A LITTLE. But that's it. And then....4. Leave:  Don't stay around at the bar for dinner. As above, bar food is typically not healthy, so go somewhere else where you can order something more in tune with your health goals. 5. Avoid the post-drunk junk: My friend told me that after a night of drinking, she and her friends would head to Taco Bell for a junk-fest. It's not really necessary, and it's usually psychological ("...because we did it in college and it was so much fun!!!!"). That stuff (and I include ALL fast food joints) is not food, and it will probably make you feel even more disgusting. If you can help it, make it a point to NEVER step foot in those places ever again. That way, even when you are drunk, hopefully, fast food won't even be on your radar.6. Know your body: As we age, our metabolism slows (unless we are really in tip-top shape with a lovely amount of lean muscle), so chances are, drinking a lot, especially drinks with lots of sugars and mix-ins, will adversely effect our bodies more in comparison to 5-10 years ago. It will also affect our liver, which has to process all of it. Go easy on your body and moderate yourself.  7. Be Happy: Happy Hour for me is a chance to unwind and welcome the weekend, mostly with my husband (we do Date Night every Friday), but sometimes with friends too. It gives me a chance to really reconnect with the people in my life, and if I go overboard, I'm not going to have that quality time with them (reminiscing about how drunk you were gets old pretty quickly). So do what you need to do in moderation and have fun.
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