Every clubbing buff who bitterly passed the acceptable boozy blackout age loves to tell you how polishing off one wine bottle and three Cosmopolitans is utterly unhealthy. In the alcohol-fuelled mise en scène, you will wake up next to your old, satanic friends – splitting headache, hangxiety, the jitters of checking your bank account, blah, blah, blah.
Although there is a seed of truth in their motivational speech, nobody ever questions how many calories your late-night partier persona ingests while clubbing.
For entrée, we will serve you the following hard facts – one gram of alcohol translates into seven calories and your daily recommended calorie intake should range between 1,800 and 3,000, depending on your gender, height, and weight.
You don’t need to be a Math wiz to estimate that a few syrupy cocktails, one-too-many shots, and the post-drinking French fries add up until they reach half – or more – of the calories you should consume in a full day.
If you wonder when, why and how the fuck this happened, we sketched out the stages of your average night out and added some calorie-related sobering news to spice it up.
Arriving at the pre-drinking tradition
A core part of the clubbing ritual, the pre-drinking session sets the tone for tonight’s fate. Depending on your nocturnal hustle, it also lays the grounds for the calorie damage that tags along with your drinking habits.
Whether you’re into the get-shamed-ASAP mission or a laid-back drinking session, we already know that your go-to pre-drinks potions are wine and beer. Easy to transport and even easier to chug, those two boozy brews sit up high when it comes to calorie content.
One beer pint sets you back a whopping 200 calories, while a glass of white wine will add 125 calories to your night out. Although those numbers are far from a fat bomb, overdoing booze will do you dirty. For some of us, downing a whole bottle of wine is more of a pre-drinking staple than an outset for an alcoholic coma.
That will cost you a buzzed commute to the club and somewhere between 600 to 700 calories, depending on the wine. Yup, you got that right. Somehow, you drank the equivalent of one and a half burgers from your local fast food in two hours.
Since you are still away from the sticky-floored nightclub, you are in charge of the drinking options. The supermarket aisle is your oyster, so you can rear its shell and hunt for some slightly-less-sinful drinks – yes, those bad boys exist.
For a little less alcohol concentration than your fav fermented grape juice and only 80 calories per can, hard seltzer’s claw is there to catch you when the health-conscious vibe hits.
The mighty tipsy stop, AKA the nightclub
Slightly buzzed after the last vodka chug in the queue – which, by the way, adds 69 calories to the list – you set foot in the strobe-lit nightclub. In the alcohol lingo, a light start translates into a single gin or a vodka Redbull.
But if we talk about nutrition labels, your skinny nocturnal diet begins with a vodka soda. Standing at 133 calories per serving, the briny concoction is one of the low-calorie mixed drinks you can opt for, along with dry martini and diet G&T.
Depending on the alcohol brands, those boozy babies range between 110 and 170 calories.
The thing with transparent spirits is that they are not as calorie dense as dark liquors.
While tequila, gin, and vodka are in the safe zone with 100 to 120 calories per 50 ml, whiskey and brandy will set you back 130 to 150 calories – at least now you know what shot you are doing when dieting.
Not everybody is a fan of the throat-burning feeling that tags along with shots and on-the-rocks drinks. But combining your alcoholic holy grail with additional mixers will snowball the night out calories damage. For 100 ml, tonic water adds 35 calories, while coke and energy drinks raise the bar up 45 calories.
That means a double Vodka & Redbull indulges your body with 240 calories, while Rum & Coke will do the same for 211 calories. No big deal, now you need to walk for a whole hour to burn one drink.
Although shots are the easiest damage to make – five shots of Jager mean a short-lived euphoria and a whopping 486 calories – cocktails are the ones killing your waistline and gym gains. Uber-sugary and packed with calories, your beloved Cosmos, Piña Coladas, and Tequila Sunrises all go above 200 calories.
Whatever you do, stay away from the creamy White Russian – this bad boy is widely labeled as the most fattening cocktail, with a jaw-dropping 568 calories for 235 ml.
Would you like fries with that?
Following the social lubrication of alcohol, you’re staggering the length of a high street, hunting for the fluorescent lights of a kebab shop. Tipsy, tired, and broke from the $6 shots, you want a greasy reward for making it to the end of the night somehow sober.
You are boozed up, so smart ordering decisions are both out of sight and out of mind. Drunk dining is a gastronomical orgasm, but it will crash your body and diet.
A post-sesh McDonald’s full meal goes beyond 1,000 calories – shocking, we know – and thinking that your local chicken shop or go-to kebab stop will be any gentler with your calorie intake, you bark up at the wrong tree.
In a post-drinking scenario, nobody wants to eat a sad salad. If you want to minimise your night out calories, opt for one item instead of a whole meal.
A portion of French fries sits at 350 calories, while a slice of pizza is approximately 285 calories – far from being your five-a-day, but far from the grease-soaked cheesy roll meals and tower burgers.
At the end of the night, you draw the line and do the Math. Heartbroken, grief-stricken and devastated, you realize that on average night out, you roughly ingest 2,000 calories. Those hefty calories mean you had half a bottle of wine at the pre-drinking session, two shots and three low-calorie cocktails at the club, and didn’t finish your post-drinking meal.
But you shouldn’t fear your next night out experience because of calories. With two days of mindful eating and some light workout – yes, walking is included – you will bounce back immediately. Calories get consumed and burnt, but clubbing memories are forever.
*If you suffer from an eating disorder, please use the resources linked down below.
ANAD provides free, peer support services to anyone struggling with an eating disorder.
NEDA – National Eating Disorders Helpline