‘Think while you drink’ gets a whole new meaning

The nutritional facts behind a Thirsty Thursday.

The nutritional facts behind a Thirsty Thursday.

By Kelsey Henninger

Thirsty Thursday photo illustration
The inside of your stomach, early, early Friday mornings. (Illustration by Daniel R. Doherty)

Thirsty Thursdays are some of the biggest party nights for college students. But one night of heavy drinking can leave you with a nasty hangover, and the bad decisions you made can linger for days. The damage to your diet and your body, all the calories from alcohol, the unexpected late-night eating — it adds up.

Five bottles of Bud Light contribute 550 calories to your daily caloric intake; five drafts means 732 calories.

If beer isn’t your drink, it’s easy to assume you’re consuming fewer calories. Think again. Sugary cocktails add to your waistline, too. Mixing different types of alcohol in one drink is harsh on the body, and that much alcohol needs a lot of additives to make it sweet. One 12-ounce margarita will add about 540 calories while the same-sized pina colada has 625. Tack on the fact that college students tend to reach for fatty snacks after a night of drinking, and you’ve easily consumed double your daily caloric intake.

Senior sports administration major Chris Stroh predicts he consumed 2,628 calories within a four-hour period.

He drank eight bottles of Pabst Blue Ribbon during his eight games of beer pong, which he claims he won early, in the night. One bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon is 153 calories. Eight is 1,224 calories.

And he was just getting started.

Then, he took two shots of Jose Cuervo to celebrate a friend’s birthday. A shot of alcohol typically ranges from 70 to 95 calories depending on the proof of the alcohol. For Stroh, each shot was another 97 calories. Next, he drank his last four beers, which added another 612 calories.

He drank two Keystone Lights before eating a bowl of Campbell’s New England Clam Chowder, serving size: half a cup. We doubled that to one cup to represent a bowl. So the two beers and soup equal another 388 calories. Stroh then munched on some tortilla chips and salsa. He didn’t know exactly how much, so we estimate 180 calories for the chips and another 30 for the salsa added to his total consumption.

For many college students, Stroh’s night is typical. And the following morning is usually spent in bed catching up on lost sleep or waiting for the hangover to go away. Revelers rarely plan how much they’ll drink during the night, and it’s difficult to avoid late-night hunger.

And even if you get up and try to work off the pounds, you may not be doing your body any good. “Alcohol consumption does slow the absorption of certain proteins, which allow for muscle growth,” fitness associate and personal trainer Derek Baker says. “Basically, the rule of thumb I’ve always heard is, for every three drinks you have, you negate one day of working out.”

(This article originally appeared in the Winter 2009-10 print edition.)

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