A student walks into a bar.
No, this is not my lame opening joke. This is reality for the multitude of students who binge drink weekly and suffer the consequences on their waistlines.
Binge drinking is characterized by consuming five drinks in one sitting for men, and four drinks for women, an activity that McGill sociology and communications student Sydney Alexander is no stranger to three times a week.
Besides the drunken texts, dreaded skull-crushing hangover, Alexander fears that the calories in her drinks and late-night stops for poutine caused by decreased inhibitions will lead to weight gain.
“[I will] never [have] fruity drinks. I’ll drink beer, but I mostly go for white wine, or vodka soda or just shots with lime,” Alexander said as she described what she believes to be healthy options.
In a scholarly analysis, Harry G. Levine, a PhD in sociology, discovered that there are four distinctive categories that compose the American outlook on drinking. Each was manifested in a certain socio-political era of American history, though none have dissipated from our current practices.
Drunkenness, the first and more serious of the characteristics, permeates all throughout our modern culture, and never used to be stigmatized in colonial America.
“Alcohol did not permanently disable the will; it was not addicting, and habitual drunkenness was not regarded as a disease,” Levine found.
Come the early 19th century, reports of alcohol addiction began to skyrocket exponentially. Now, more than ever, moderate drinking needs to become part of our vocabulary if we want to stop mental and physical degeneration in their tracks.
The following beverages are your best picks, and they are to be enjoyed responsibly.
Throw back a couple Anchor Porter beers, weighing in at 209 calories or a McEwans Scotch Ale at 295 calories per 12-ounce serving, and you’re better off with a three-course meal.
Calories are most satiating when chewed, not sipped. Conveniently enough, health specialists recommend that you pair your drink with food to aid in alcoholic absorption.
“Alcohol itself increases acid secretion in the stomach and that can make you feel nauseous. Having food in your stomach will help minimize impact of that acid, and will help buffer the effect of alcohol,” Aaron White, an assistant research professor in psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina told MSNBC.
Choose from these 12 oz. servings of light-coloured beers so that you have room for the bar’s complimentary popcorn or peanuts.
Budweiser Select 55 â€“ 55 calories
Molson 67 â€“ 67 calories
Pabst Extra Light â€“ 67 calories
Anheuser Busch Natural Light – 95 calories
Bud Light Lime â€“ 116 calories
Now that we’ve covered the brews, it’s time to talk about the fruity drinks. Bethenny Frankel, one of the original housewives from The Real Housewives of New York, recently lost a ton of her baby weight, which she credits to drinking smartly. She was featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show boasting her 100 calorie Skinnygirl Cocktail beverages, which contain blends of wine and spirits to attract more women to the alcohol company Beam, that for 216 years, mainly targeted men.
However, this company’s archaic and sexist marketing strategy is not to be ignored. Now, with approximately 555,000 men and 365,000 women dying of heart attacks each year, some attributed to alcohol’s excessive sugar content, it is time for both genders to step up to the cup.
You don’t have to be in post-baby weight status like Bethenny to try out these skinny recipes, you just have to straight up, no chaser, be ready to turn your belligerent drinkscapades into nights your body won’t hate you for.
Flavourings are calorie bombs that people drop in their drinks mindlessly. If you’re too tipsy or enamoured by the blue-eyed stallion or leggy fox in front of you, who even cares what sugary flavour it is? Luckily, these recipes won’t force you to sacrifice health for taste.
If you’re stuck in the mindset that it’s better to consume excess sugar calories than to substitute them for equally tasty diet alternatives that contain aspartame, think again. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has tested aspartame in 200 studies over a span of three decades, and has determined the chemical to be completely safe. So let’s go ahead and skinnify our drinks with it:
Snow White Skinny Sangria:
1 bottle Chardonnay (the lightest of the whites, weighing in at 90 calories per 4 oz.)
1 litre Diet Sprite â€“ 0 calories
Â½ cup orange juice (make sure it says “juice” on the carton, as opposed to “beverage.”) â€“ 55 calories
Â¼ cup Smirnoff Vodka (or choose your favourite brand to replace with the sugary and unnecessary orange liqueur Triple Sec.) â€“ 128 calories
Thinly sliced oranges and peaches, and a handful of raspberries and blueberries for added fibre.
Pour contents in a large pitcher and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve and enjoy.
Virtually any cocktail can be thinned down a notch if you pair the spirit with a waist-friendly flavour. With a traditional 8 oz. Margarita costing you up to 600 calories, it’s a mystery how some people can still celebrate donning the tackiest of sombreros.
“Tequila is actually not bad, sugar-wise,” says Cloe Rubinfeld, a bartender at Chez Serge on St-Laurent and Typhoon Lounge on Monkland. “Margaritas made fresh and obviously easy on the syrup are a good choice.”
Easy on the syrup, you say? Try this recipe with no syrup:
2 oz. Tequila â€“ 128 calories
Splash of orange juice â€“ 10 calories
Â¼ cup Spice Exchange Sugar-Free Raspberry Margarita Mix (0 calories) or Acai White Peach Papaya Crystal Light mixed with water (0 Calories)
Fresh lime juice
Combine all ingredients with crushed ice in a shaker. Shake well and strain into a festive glass. Skip the salt-crusted rim and top it off with an actual fresh strawberry or frozen grape, instead of a sugar-saturated maraschino cherry.
No one says you have to adhere to the same cocktail-cutter templates over and over again. Get crafty at the counter and customize your own cocktail using these skinny tips.
Olivia Kelner, a bartender at Fats on Ste-Catherine, advises to start by choosing lighter liquor as a base.
“The higher the alcohol proof, the higher there are calories, so 100 proof is 50 per cent alcohol, versus 80 proof which is 40 per cent for vodka, for example,” Kelner explains. “The 100 proof has more calories.”
To jazz up the flavour, Rubinfeld suggests whipping up some vodka shaken and muddled with fresh lime, blueberries, cucumber, and lemon.
“Using Stevia as a sugar replacement is the best option, by mixing it with water and adding it to the cocktail,” she says. “It’s an all-natural sweetener that’s way better than any other option. You can buy boxes with single serving sachets at almost any grocer.”
Remember dudes, a glass of red wine or a couple beers a day won’t kill you. It’s the increase in hunger after downing a pitcher that will lead you to the nearest La Belle Province that will come back to bite you in your eventual fat bum.
“Another good tip is to try to adjust your daily caloric intake, for example, if you know you’re going to have a couple of drinks that night, and try skipping dessert to compensate for the calories you’re going to consume,” suggests Carol Haberman, a registered dietitian who studied family relations and applied nutrition at the University of Guelph.
Despite having started off university with not the healthiest of habits, Alexander leaves us with wise insight to sip on.
“If you’re seriously trying to lose weight, drinking is stupid altogether. Now that I’m just maintaining [my weight], I just try to go for those lighter options and chew gum so I don’t eat late-night poutine.”
Cheers to that.