When you're out with friends enjoying the evening and having a few (okay, many) drinks, you don't often think about the calorie content of alcohol.
Alcoholic drinks are liquid, so surely it doesn't matter that much, right? Really, the only thing we need to be mindful of is that deliciously greasy 2am halal snack pack...
The Cancer Council Victoria has found that popular alcoholic drinks exceed 240 calories (or 1,000 kilojoules) each, which is the same as a slice of pizza or a Mars Bar.
That means, if you're having four or more of these drinks on a night out, you're adding a huge 956 calories (or 4,000 kilojoules) or more to your diet. That's half the daily intake of the average Australian adult, which is 2,000 calories (or 8,700 kilojoules).
"We looked at the most popular drinks from a liquor outlet and we found that they're very high in kilojoules, which is a concern for us because alcohol in itself is a risk factor for cancer," Alison McAleese, LiveLighter campaign manager and accredited practising dietitian, told The Huffington Post Australia.
"But the other risk factor for cancer is being overweight, so these alcoholic drinks are actually putting you at risk twice."
If you're having four drinks a night, this is what they add up to in terms of food.
"4,000 kilojoules (which is about four drinks) is similar to 20 chicken nuggets, 12 Paddle Pops, three and a half cheeseburgers, or five bowls of Froot Loops and milk. It's quite a staggering amount," McAleese said.
There is no such thing as a 'healthy choice' when it comes to alcohol.
"Most people wouldn't dream of eating such an excessive amount of junk food, yet many would easily drink the equivalent on a night out."
So, which alcoholic drinks are the worst offenders?
"In terms of watching your weight, the worst offenders were the premix soft drinks and alcohol. They're really high in energy, around 1,000 kilojoules. If you're having four of those in a night, then that's about half your day's worth of energy intake," McAleese said.
Light spirits and cider are also high in calories. A 500ml bottle of cider contains up to 209 calories (875 kilojoules), which is around the same as a traditional cinnamon Krispy Kreme doughnut.
Wine drinkers, you'll be a little happier to know your favourite alcoholic drink is on the lower side of the calorie spectrum.
"Wine is the lower energy drink out of the alcoholic options we looked at," McAleese said.
However, wine and beer will also add several hundred extra kilojoules to our diets. To put this into perspective, one full-strength stubby of beer contains as much as 153 calories (640 kilojoules), which is around the same amount as a deep fried dim sim.
"It's easy to see how the kilojoules from alcohol can quickly add up over the course of a night, a week or a month," McAleese said.
"In fact, drinking just one stubby of beer a day could lead to around five kilograms of weight gain in a year."
Kilojoules in popular alcoholic beverages
Beverage -- kilojoules
- Jim Beam Black Label and Cola Cans 375ml, 1.8 standard drinks -- 1099
- Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey and Cola Cans 375ml, 1.5 standard drinks -- 1069
- Bundaberg U.P. Rum and Cola Cans 375ml, 1.4 standard drinks -- 998
- Wild Turkey Bourbon and Cola Cans 375ml, 1.5 standard drinks -- 977
- Johnnie Walker Red Label and Cola Cans 375ml, 1.4 standard drinks -- 971
- Smirnoff Ice Double Black Cans 6.5 percent 375ml, 1.9 standard drinks -- 1069
- Gordons Elderflower Spritz Bottle 500ml, 1.6 standard drinks -- 1015
- UDL Vodka and Raspberry Cans 375ml, 1.2 standard drinks -- 971
- Smirnoff Raspberry Sorbet Pouch 250ml, 0.9 standard drinks -- 955
- Smirnoff Lemon Sorbet Pouch 250ml, 0.9 standard drinks -- 950
- James Squire Orchard Crush Apple Cider 500ml, 1.3 standard drinks -- 875
- Bulmers Original Cider Bottle 500ml, 1.9 standard drinks -- 870
- Somersby Apple Cider Bottle 330ml, 1.2 standard drinks -- 868
- Somersby Pear Cider Bottle 330ml, 1.2 standard drinks -- 868
- Strongbow Classic Apple Cider Bottle 355ml, 1.4 standard drinks -- 767
- Crown Lager Bottle 375ml, 1.4 standard drinks -- 641
- Victoria Bitter Bottles 375ml 1.4 standard drinks -- 634
- James Boag's Premium Lager, 1.5standard drinks -- 623
- Corona Extra Beer 355ml, 1.3 standard drinks -- 611
- Carlton Draught Stubbies 375ml, 1.4 standard drinks -- 581
- Red wine 12 percent medium glass 160ml (average all brands), 1.6 standard drinks -- 456
- Dry white wine 12 percent medium glass 160ml (average all brands), 1.6 standard drinks -- 454
- Sweet white wine 11 percent medium glass 160ml (average all brands), 1.6 standard drinks -- 669
- Sparkling white wine 11 percent medium glass 160ml (average all brands), 1.6 standard drinks -- 434
- Rose medium glass 11 percent 160ml (average all brands), 1.6 standard drinks -- 469
- Espresso martini, 1.6 standard drinks -- 1190 kilojoules
Findings from Cancer Council Victoria.
Now that we're coming up to Christmas and New Year's Eve, here are four tips for smarter drinking.
"It's coming up to a busy time where people are going out a lot and could be drinking every day of the week, so just keep in mind how many drinks you're having," McAleese told HuffPost Australia.
1. Know the standard drink amount
"Try to learn the standard drinks. On the back of all alcoholic drinks in Australia it tells you how many standard drinks it is. Generally, one alcoholic drink is around two standard drinks," McAleese said.
"If you're having a glass of wine, for example, it's probably close to two drinks but you can easily find that out by having a look at the packaging."
2. Don't be fooled by 'healthy' or 'low carb' drinks
"Be wary of alcoholic beverages marketed as 'healthier choices', such as low-carbohydrate beers. Don't be fooled by sophisticated marketing, it's the alcohol content that contributes the most kilojoules," McAleese said.
"There is no such thing as a 'healthy choice' when it comes to alcohol. All alcohol increases your risk of cancer."
3. Follow the guidelines
"In terms of long term risk, the recommendation is to have no more than two drinks on average per day," McAleese said.
"The other part of the recommendation is around short term risk, such as doing silly things that might put you at harm, and that's not to have any more than four in one day."
4. Be mindful of what you're eating
"When you're drinking alcohol we can easily drink a lot and still have the junk food, as well, so that's a risk for weight gain," McAleese said.
To help you eat more healthily while drinking, McAleese recommends sticking to whole foods and staying away from chips and beer nuts.
"Things like veggies and dips are a healthy option. Plain nuts are good, or even a sandwich would be better than the chips we typically eat," McAleese said.
"Also, try to have something to eat before you go out so you're not drinking alcohol and all of the unhealthy foods, as well."
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