Wednesday, March 21, 2012

In Light of St. Patty's Day...How to Get the Most Bang for Your Caloric Buck

Just how much green beer did you down on St. Patrick’s day? Did you engage in the debauchery, or did you treat it like any other day of the week?

As a young professional and current DC’er, I witnessed some pretty reckless binge drinking over the weekend, but didn't realize the extent of the calories consumed.

Women’s magazines and the occasional scientific study encourage us to sip red wine to maintain heart health, and remind us that, in moderation, nothing is truly off limits. But, on major drinking holidays (think: Mardi Gras, St. Patty’s Day, Fourth of July, etc.) calorie consumption from beverages alone can wreak havoc on your healthy habits.

Blue Moon, a favorite at DC bars, has 171 calories per 12-oz bottle. Drink one (or two, or three!) in addition to munching on happy hour snacks, and the average individual risks adding significant pudge around the midsection over time.

What about the college classics? Coors light, PBR, Bud light. All three of these adult beverages pack in over 100 calories per bottle. Your best bet when it comes to beer that still contains a comparable alcohol content is Busch Light (95 calories per 12-oz).

The quintessential St. Patrick’s day drink – the Irish Car Bomb – packs a whopping 237 calories per 12-oz glass. Worth it? Opt for a Guinness instead. At 126 calories, it's certainly an improvement over the mixed drink.

A glass of red wine (5-oz) has a little over 100 calories but offers 25% more alcohol as the same amount of beer. Clearly, wine is not the drink of choice on St. Patty’s day, but a glass of merlot offers more heart healthy benefits than a beer. In fact, for individuals who exercise regularly, eat healthfully, but still suffer from low HDL cholesterol levels, drinking wine can actually boost "good" cholesterol and decrease their cardiac risk.

Many Americans turn a blind eye to calorie consumption from drinks, ignoring the fact that sodas, smoothies, frappuccinos, and booze are some of the worst diet saboteurs out there.

(Remember to drink in moderation and never get behind the wheel after imbibing!)

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