Welcome to the final hours of my underagedness. In just two days, the Philly bar scene will be subjected to me in all my glorious legality. Pretty much anyone who has been within 100 feet of me during the past month can tell you, I’m pretty excited.
But, I’m not going to go completely crazy. While I’m sure the whole “21 shots on your 21st” deal would be entertaining for those around me, I know too much about the repercussions to subject my body to it. As someone who devotes a lot of time and energy to maintaining physical health, I did a little research to determine the best way to enjoy my birthday without having to endure a two-day recovery and extra time on the treadmill. I thought I would share it with you.
Alcohol is a major source of hidden calories, meaning that while you’re downing shot after shot, you’re probably not keeping tabs on your caloric intake. Knowing the approximate caloric content of different kinds of alcohol will help you make ‘healthier’ selections. The greater the concentration of alcohol in a drink, the higher the calories. For example, beer has an alcoholic content of .05 to 10 percent, while liquors and liqueurs range from 14 to 40 percent. However, odds are you’ll be drinking far more beer than liqueurs to get an effect. Although one ounce of beer has only 12 calories compared to the 117 calories in one ounce of coffee liqueur, most beers come in 12 ounce bottles, which rockets the content to 144 calories on average. Drinking a light beer will save you about 40 calories per bottle (and some change in your pocket).
Remember that adding juices or sodas to alcohol (rum and cokes, cranberry and vodkas), will add anywhere from 100 to 200 calories per drink. The milk in cream drinks (Toasted Almonds, White Russians), tacks on fat calories as well, which vary according to what kind of milk is used. See the graphic below for more content information.
Another way to protect the body is to understand how it deals with alcohol. The average adult body can only handle .5 ounces of alcohol per hour, which is about equivalent to the alcohol from one can of beer. More than that per hour will affect how you function mentally and physically. Also, women’s bodies (as if we don’t already have enough to worry about) tend to have more fat and less muscle tissue than men’s. Muscle tissue has much more water than fat does, which means that the alcohol consumed by a man will be more dilute than the same amount consumed by a woman. She will be slurring sooner than he will. Lightweight by birth.
The effects of alcohol will also be slowed by whatever grub you have in your stomach. A hearty meal will slow the process of alcohol absorption. This does not mean eating a side salad will prep you for beer pong. If you plan to drink, feed yourself beforehand. Conversely, carbonated drinks speed the absorption process, which will have you feeling the effects of the alcohol sooner than non-carbonated drinks. If you haven’t had much to eat, steer clear of cola and club soda.
Other physical effects include increased blood flow to the stomach, intestines and the skin. Your body will start to perspire, which can cause a drop in body temperature according to howstuffworks.com. Advise your flush-faced buddy that seems to be sweating more than he’s drinking to take a break and have some water. Dehydration is a very common result of binge drinking. Make sure to drink glasses of water between the martinis.
Finally, know your limits and respect them. Sexual arousal is significantly increased under the influence of alcohol (because of a depression of the nerve centers in the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. Bet you can’t say that three times fast). Emotions are also peaked. Maintaining control over yourself greatly ups the tendency to make decisions you won’t regret in the morning.
Should you fail to follow this advice, at the very least make sure you’re surrounded by people who do. Alcohol abuse affects eight percent of people 18 and older. Don’t be a statistic.
That said, I’ll return to the painstaking process of counting down the minutes left until midnight.
Nadia Stadnycki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.