The Nutritionist: Avoid the Hangover

Champagne Mario Gonzaga

It’s not only the season for a cozy fireplace drinking. It’s also Christmas Office Party season which means even the strongest-willed of us will indulge in a tipple too many.

So, what tipple will keep you from becoming the water-cooler topic the next day - and keep you most clear headed?

It is only the beginning of December, but I have already attended two parties to celebrate the season and I have six more to go to. The good thing is that I know my enemies. I know the effects of one too many glasses of wine and I now choose my alcoholic enemies wisely.

Check out the nutritional value of your favourite festive tipples and find out which one might be the best option to avoid disaster on the career front next year:

Calories in a long drink, pint or wine glass

Girls like their wines, and it seems the norm that the 175ml 'small' glass has been replaced with the 'oh-come-on-it’s-only-one-glass' 250ml version. Have one of those and you will drink between 240 and 260 calories, slightly more in sweeter wines. Oh, the boss is footing the bill and it's champagne for everyone? Say cheers to another 133 calories per 175ml glass. I know, the problem is the waiters keep topping up your glass so it won’t take long for you to have lost count of how many glasses (& calories) you actually drank.

The most calorie rich alcoholic beverage is beer with 170-200 calories per pint. The least fattening alcoholic beverage is vodka with only 72calories per 35ml shot. But I’m not suggesting shots already; I think we all know where the night will be heading then.

The Hangover scale

Knowing how many calories are in your festive tipple might be interesting to know, but it doesn’t really give you an idea why certain drinks will give you a worse hangover than others. So what should you be (not) drinking if you would like to be able to remember how you got home that night?

Let’s look at wine first. Both white and red wine score pretty high up on the hangover scale with 6/10 and 7/10, respectively. White wine contains natural or added sulphites to stop it going brown, and these are likely to cause your wine hangover on the next day. They also wear away your tooth enamel, making your teeth more sensitive, and can cause allergic reactions. Great, you’ll just opt for red wine, which is meant to be good for your heart anyway with its high content in antioxidants and resveratrol.

The problem with red wine is that it can give you a worse hangover than white wine or beer due to the fact that it contains two types of alcohol (ethanol and methanol). Your already stressed out liver breaks down ethanol first, which leaves methanol floating around in your body for much longer. Bring on the happy morning after feeling!

Champagne is not much better. It might be high in antioxidants, but the problems are the lovely bubbles which speed up the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream. If you want to be on the safe side and remember what you said to your boss that night you might want to opt for beer or vodka tonic. Beer will make you feel drunk the slowest as it usually has a lower alcohol content than wine or champagne. Vodka might have the highest alcohol content but it is the 'cleanest' alcohol, containing hardly any impurities normally formed during fermentation. A study by the British Medical Association states vodka is the least likely alcoholic drink to leave you with a hangover. But watch out for all those mixed drinks where you can’t taste the vodka anymore.

You might have noticed I didn’t mention any of those very strong drinks which catapult you right into hangover hell. Remember that drinking any alcoholic beverages on an empty stomach (and especially those) will ensure you're the talk around the water cooler the next day a whole lot quicker!

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