Whether you suffer from alcohol flush reaction or not, alcohol can certainly upset your body. While drinking alcohol is never going to be overtly healthy, there are a few tricks to make it a bit less negative. Here are some top healthy alcoholic drinks and tips to keep your night out comfortable, fun and as healthy as possible, without giving up alcohol.
Sugar is not your friend
Alcoholic drinks (and even non-alcoholic drinks) with high amounts of sugar are not healthy. That’s pretty obvious. But you may not realise which drinks are the main culprits, especially after you’ve already had a few pints at the bar.
Drinks with added sugar like fructose corn syrup are best to be avoided. Mixed drinks tend to have pretty high sugar content as well, especially if they’re mixed with pop. Anything mixed with Red Bull is a disaster waiting to happen.
Sugar and calories like to go hand-in-hand, so it’s important to be aware of how much you’re drinking.
Tip: Try mixing your drink with soda water, club soda or sugar free pop. This simple change can make a huge difference: not only to your sugar-intake, but also helping your body out as well. It already has a lot of work to do breaking down the alcohol you are consuming - don’t make it work even harder trying to deal with a spike of sugar.
Did you know: A basic tonic water has over 80 calories and nearly 22 grams of sugar. That’s almost as many calories and sugar in a regular can of pop! On the flip side, soda water contains zero calories and zero sugar.
Watch out for simple syrup
As mentioned before, sugar doesn’t help your body and certainly doesn't help when drinking alcohol. Many drinks have added sugar to improve the flavour, but it’s important to keep an eye on simple syrup. This is simply sugar dissolved in water, but if there’s a lot of simple syrup in your drink, you can expect the sugar-content to be high as well.
Tip: When making drinks at home, you can use different substitutes for simple syrup, such as honey. It has fewer calories than refined sugar with the added bonus of a few extra vitamins.
Did you know: Famous drinks like a Whisky Sour, Lemon Drop, Strawberry Daiquiri and Mojitos all use simple syrup.
Stay happy and hydrated
Alcohol is a natural diuretic and causes dehydration. This can be a real problem for those of us who deal with alcohol headaches, often caused by this dehydration effect. The simplest way to avoid this is to stay hydrated while you drink alcohol. You can do this by having water or a non-alcoholic drink in-between every alcoholic drink. By drinking water in-between, this gives you body some time to process the alcohol already in your system before you start adding more. This particular trick can be very helpful for those with Asian Flush who struggle to metabolise alcohol in the first place.
Tip: For every alcoholic drink you have, have one non-alcoholic drink.
Did you know: Drinking a pint of water before going to bed after a night out can greatly reduce the severity of your hangover. Make sure to drink your water!
Choose your drinks wisely
Most people recommend sticking to one type of alcohol for the entire evening. This can help your body slightly, and can reduce the severity of your hangover. Of course, drinking way too much of one type of alcohol won’t help, either.
However, you can also chose drinks that have less alcohol content than normal. Drinks like shandies, which are half beer and half lemonade, are great options. These allow you to still have some alcohol, while the amount of alcohol in the drink is much lower overall.
If you want to go even further, you can try out some alcohol-free drinks, or alcohol-reduced drinks. While these aren’t as common as regular alcoholic beverages, they’re becoming more and more popular. For more information, you can read about our favourite low-alcohol drinks.
Want something a little different that still could be seen as “healthy”? Try a Bloody Mary. These drinks typically include vodka, horseradish, tomato juice, Worcheshire sauce, Tabasco, celery, lemon juice, salt and pepper. As you can imagine, this drink isn’t for everyone. However, some of the ingredients, like tomatoes, celery and horseradish all come with their own health benefits.
It's not the same as drinking vitamin water, but it's at least a start.
Other drinks like a vodka cranberry may be a good option for you. Vodka is low in calories, while cranberry juice has its own health benefits, such as working as an anti-inflammatory and can help improve skin appearance. An added splash of lime juice can really make this drink come together.
Tip: Drinks like shandies or spritz still have alcohol, but much lower than a typical drink. This means your body has less alcohol to metabolise, you’ll consume less alcohol and minimize your hangover the next day. A win-win!
Did you know: MillerCoors sells their non-alcoholic beer Sharp’s, which has only 58 calories per bottle. Other light beers may have calories from 55 - 120 per bottle. While they're not always available at bars, many shops and supermarkets are getting more low-alcohol content drinks.
Typical calories in common alcoholic drinks
Of course this all depends on the type of drink, the brand, the amount of alcohol content and the size of the serving, but typically:
A standard glass of wine (175ml, white wine or red wine) could have around 160 calories. A bottle of wine could get you close to 700 calories.
A shot of dark spirit (5ml) like whisky with a mixer typically contains about 105 calories. Light-coloured spirits (such as vodka) tend to have slightly less calories.
A pint of lager would equal around 180 calories.
Did you know: A vodka soda is a decent, low-calorie option. Vodka typically has about 95 calories per 1.5 ounces while soda water has no calories. This is a far better option than pounding vodka shots, as well. Because the alcohol is mixed with a cold, calorie-free mixer, it makes you drink it much slower. This gives your body some time to metabolize the alcohol before getting flooded with more and more. At the same time, you’re working towards staying hydrated by including the soda water.
While a simple glass of red wine may not seem like a huge issue, most people don’t stop at just one. After a handful of various drinks and mixers, your calorie-intake for the night can skyrocket. A lot of people don't realise that a few beers could end up being the same as a cheeseburger and fries meal from McDonalds.
Of course, drinking alcohol isn’t part of most weight loss programs, nor will a handful of pints at the pub help you lose weight. However, it’s helpful to keep in mind how much you’re drinking and the potential calories associated with those drinks.
What about those with Asian Flush?
Individuals who deal with Asian Flush, or alcohol flush reaction, experience negative symptoms when drinking alcohol. Following some of these tips can help minimize the symptoms, but it won’t completely eliminate them.
The best way to deal with reducing Asian Flush symptoms is to utilize supplements like Sunset Alcohol Flush Reduction. The ingredients work to minimise the toxic byproducts of alcohol that cause this reaction in the first place. If you want to learn more about Asian Flush, check out our Asian Flush Guide.
Do healthy alcoholic drinks exist?
At the end of the day, drinking a lot of alcohol isn’t going to be healthy. We all know that. There are many other types of drinks that can provide nutritional value while avoiding the negative effects of alcohol.
However, not all of us are interested in cutting alcohol out of our diets completely. Alcohol is a huge part of our culture and society, from a glass of wine on a first day, to a cocktail at a business function. Alcohol can be really hard to avoid and you shouldn't have to. By following a few simple tricks and picking better drinks, you can still enjoy alcohol. And just maybe, reduce your hangover symptoms as well.