Tis the season to be jolly. This weekend well and truly marked the beginning of the Christmas party circuit. Filled with bonhomie and good cheer. More often than not over a glass of something deliciously sparkling. This year, with the help of the 5-2 fast day diet, I am determined not to put on any weight, not even a gram, as I navigate my way through festive get togethers and celebrations.
I remember almost choking on my morning cappuccino last year after reading that the average Australian gains 0.8 to 1.5 kg over the Christmas period. One or two kilograms might not sound like much, but researchers have identified that weight gained over the holiday period is rarely lost. What’s more the holiday season doesn’t represent just one day of overrating and over imbibing but six whole weeks from late November to early January.
Following a forewarned is forearmed philosophy, I’m fairly confident that I can maintain two 5-2 fast days throughout most of December. Switching to a 6-1 format for just one week between Christmas and New Year. Squeezing in two non consecutive fast days per week into six very social weeks is the easy part. More difficult will be moderating the festive eating and drinking on my feast days. The 5-2 approach to steady weight loss only works when you resist the urge to overindulge on feast days. Practically speaking, this means calorie restriction for two days and eating sensibly for the remaining five to maintain a weekly calorie deficit. It also means keeping a vigilant eye on the errant calories in my alcohol consumption.
What to drink on the Christmas party circuit while on the 5-2 diet? Obviously with a meagre 500 calorie limit on fast days there is not a lot of room to move. I personally find it best to avoid alcohol completely on fast days, not least because just one drink can easily weaken my resolve, one leading to another, then inevitably just one more. No wonder very few diets allow even the merest sniff of alcohol.
Theoretically, there are no limits to what you can drink on a feast day. Practically, however, it is important to be sensible about what you actually do drink if the benefits of your hard fought fast days are to be realised. By and large, it is incredibly difficult to estimate the actual quantity of alcohol consumed in social situations. Glass sizes vary and are continuously topped up through the course of the evening, and the composition of cocktails is unknown. To make things even more complicated, consider this. In Australia a standard drink consists of just 100 ml of wine or 30 ml of spirits. Cocktails can contain as much alcohol as five or six standard drinks, depending on the recipe. In reality, the average serving size of most drinks is 150 ml not 100 ml. To add to the confusion most calorie counters work off a 125 ml, or half a cup, serve.
In the interests of keeping myself honest, I have trawled through a number of calorie counting sites and estimated the calorie count of some of my favourite tipples on the basis of an average 150ml serve. I’m not an expert but as a general rule of thumb, it seems most red or white table wines come in at an average 25 calories per 30ml. Its all about the sugar content. The dryer the wine, the lower the calorie value. Conversely, sweeter or fortified wines with a higher residual sugar content, carry a higher alcohol and calorie count. Here is what I will be drinking this festive season:
Prosecco 100 calories
Brut Champagne 105 calories
Gin and Tonic (30 ml Gin and 120ml Tonic) 110 calories
Vodka Cranberry (30 ml Vodka and 120ml pure cranberry juice) 124 calories
Sparkling Wine 125 calories
Red Wine 125 calories
Riesling, Chardonnay 127 calories
Sauternes, Dessert Wine 135 calories
To make things even easier, I’m also planning to go one for one. Chasing every glass of alcohol with a glass of calorie free sparkling mineral water. Giving me the added advantage of keeping well hydrated and hopefully hang-over free.
In the meantime, here is how I like to prepare my Vodka Cranberry On Ice. Be generous with the ice and be sure to use pure, unsweetened cranberry juice. A very refreshing and delicious tipple at just 124 calories per serve.
Vodka Cranberry On Ice
124 calories per serve
30ml (1 nip) Vodka (64 calories)
120ml cranberry juice, unsweetened (60 calories)
freshly squeezed lime, to taste
FILL an old-fashioned or low ball glass halfway with ice.
ADD vodka, cranberry and lime juice.
SERVE garnished with a slice of lime.