Advanced Search
Current and Breaking News for Professionals, Consumers and Media

Click here to learn how to advertise on this site and for ad rates.

Food/Nutrition Columnist Author: Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN - Food and Nutrition Columnist - Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

Holiday Drinks Can Add Up to Headaches and Extra Pounds

By Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN - Food and Nutrition Columnist -
Dec 23, 2013 - 12:02:00 AM

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Ezine
For Email Marketing you can trust

Email this article
 Printer friendly page

( - Drink too much alcohol and you know you will wake up with a headache the next day but few people think of drinking and calories. Hard alcohol contains no vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrate or fat but it does contain calories - alcohol calories -- 7 calories in 1 gram. That's almost as much as in 1 gram of fat and close to twice as many calories in 1 gram of protein or carbohydrate. Wine and beer have both alcohol calories and calories from carb. Mixed drinks may serve up sugar calories as well. Add that all together and multiply it by the number of times you enjoy a holiday drink and it could be the reason you gained some weight during the season.

One drink equals: 1 (12 ounce) bottle of beer, 1 (5 ounce) glass of wine, or 1 (1.5 ounce) jigger of gin, whiskey, vodka, or scotch. The drink you are poured at a party, bar or restaurant may vary considerably from the standard. Mixed drinks with multiple shots or add-ons such as soda, cream, coconut juice, and sugar can increase both the calories and volume of alcohol consumed.

Add alcohol to a meal and you stimulate your desire to eat, making it more likely you'll overeat. Alcohol lowers inhibitions. The same effect that makes one drink lead to another can also lead you to a second helping off the buffet table or a second slice of cheesecake.

It's a common misconception that alcohol used in cooking doesn't reach the dinner table. If red wine is added to a pot roast and cooked for over 2 hours, 5% of the alcohol still remains. When items are flamed in alcohol, like cherries jubilee, 75% of the brandy remains. If wine is used to deglaze a pan, boiling it for a few minutes, 85% of the alcohol remains. Bake fish in sherry for 30 minutes and over one-third of the alcohol is still there when the fish is served. Bottom line: cooking with alcohol adds calories to a dish.

What about the morning after headache? Almost everyone has a magic cure for a hangover. While some suggestions might help ease the symptoms - time, good food, and lots of liquids are really the only way to recover. It takes time for your body to process alcohol and there is no way to speed that up. Sleeping doesn't cure a hangover but you may be less aware of the discomfort because some of the recovery occurred while you slept.

Don't fall for the myth that coffee can sober you up or cure a hangover. It is a liquid so it will help you recover from the dehydrating effects of too much alcohol. But when you chase alcohol with caffeine, you may relieve a headache temporarily but soon both the headache and caffeine jiggers will return.

When it comes to hangovers, sex does count. Women are generally smaller than men, with more body fat and less muscle. Alcohol is diluted into water-holding muscles, not into fat tissue, and women have less of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol. So, alcohol builds up faster, is broken down more slowly, and stays in a woman's body longer.

Prevention may be the best cure for a hangover. Eat and drink water before you drink alcohol. Alcohol is absorbed more slowly on a full stomach. Dilute your alcohol with nonalcoholic beverages - sparkling water, tonic, ginger ale or even lots of ice. And, most importantly drink moderately.

To help keep calories in check, you should know:

Drink                                Calories                 Size

Beer                                 150                         12 ounces

Light Beer                         100                         12 ounces

White wine                        115                         5 ounces

Red wine                          110                         5 ounces

Hard liquor                        90 - 110                  1.5 ounces (jigger)

Martini                              206                         3 ounces

Do you know why James Bond always ordered his martinis shaken, not stirred? Two researchers, both of whom are avid Bond fans, published a review of Bond's alcohol intake ( and concluded that he drank more than four times the maximum alcohol recommendation for an adult male. This would put him at risk for multiple health problems including alcohol induced tremors which made it unlikely he could stir his martini, even if he wanted to. They concluded their tongue in cheek review with this advice to Bond: Although we appreciate the societal pressures to consume alcohol when working with international terrorists and high stake gamblers, we would advise Bond ... to reduce his intake to safe levels. Good advice for all during the holidays.

© NRH Nutrition Consultants, Inc.
Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian and the author of the nutrition counter series for Pocket Books with sales of more than 8.5 million books.

Look for:

The Diabetes Counter, 5th Ed., 2014

The Fat and Cholesterol Counter, 2014

The Most Complete Food Counter, 3rd ed., 2013

The Calorie Counter, 6th Ed., 2013

The Complete Food Counter, 4th ed., 2012

The Protein Counter, 3rd Ed., 2011

The Ultimate Carbohydrate Counter, 3rd Ed., 2010

The Healthy Wholefoods Counter, 2008

Your Complete Food Counter App:

For more information on Jo-Ann and her books, go to:


For advertising and promotion on, call Mike McCurdy: 877-634-9180 or [email protected] We have over 7,000 journalists as subscribers.


Top of Page

Food/Nutrition Columnist
Latest Headlines

+ Who Was Mary Engle Pennington?
+ Energy Drinks and Adolescents
+ Eat Whole Grain Bread
+ Kid-Sized Portions - How Big Should They Be?
+ Something Fishy
+ A New Eating Disorder?
+ Coming To Your Local Supermarket In 2018
+ Deck the Halls with Red and Green Healthy Foods
+ Holiday Food – Shop Safe, Cook Safe, Be Safe
+ Holiday Weight Gain – Myth or Reality

Contact Us | Job Listings | Help | Site Map | About Us
Advertising Information | HND Press Release | Submit Information | Disclaimer

Site hosted by Sanchez Productions