Skip to main content

The question: How many calories are in holiday cocktails?

The answer: It's not just the hors d'oeuvres, turkey stuffing and shortbread that add extra calories during the holiday season. Holiday cheer – think eggnog punch, vodka martinis and New Year's champagne – can also make a hefty withdrawal from your calorie bank.

Alcohol (e.g. ethanol) doesn't contain fat or carbohydrate, but it is high in calories. One gram of alcohol delivers seven calories (5 ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces of spirits each have 14 grams of alcohol). That's almost double the four calories found in one gram of protein. And when you add in mixers such as juice, pop and cream the calories can really add up.

Story continues below advertisement

Consider that a serving of eggnog punch (e.g. cream, eggs, sugar, rum) can pack as many as 400 calories. Not all of us drink high-fat eggnog that's laced with sugar and rum. But even an extra five glasses of wine per week will cost you 570 calories, or an additional hour on the treadmill to briskly walk them off.

Most studies show we don't compensate for extra alcohol calories by eating less. In fact, many people eat more when they enjoy a few drinks. Alcohol reduces your inhibitions or general awareness of how much you're eating. Drinking on an empty stomach can also trigger food cravings.

To prevent over-consuming calories – and alcohol – during the holiday season, practice the following tips:

  • Eat before you drink: If you imbibe on an empty stomach, the alcohol will enter your bloodstream and make its way to your brain more quickly.
  • Limit yourself to one drink an hour: Drinking more often will result in a higher blood alcohol concentration. To slow your pace, drink two glasses of water in between alcoholic drinks.
  • Dilute your calories: Order cocktails made with a calorie-free mixer, such as vodka and soda or a white wine spritzer.
  • Set your limit: Resolve ahead of time that you’ll have only two drinks. Then switch to water.

Leslie Beck, a registered dietitian, is based at the Medisys clinic in Toronto. She can be seen every Thursday at noon on CTV News Channel's Direct (www.lesliebeck.com).

Click here to submit your questions. Our Health Experts will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies