We love happy hour (that’s why it’s rarely contained in just an hour). But, on top of a slight office hangover the next morning, your weeknight festivities could have you waking up a little, shall we say, “plumper” than you were yesterday. Many of us don’t realize how many happy hour calories we’re actually consuming. Once those high-calorie cocktails are in our inhibition goes down, cravings go up and we overload on the finger food ordered along with that second (or third!) margarita.
We broke down five popular happy hour cocktails and snacks and gave you similar–read: lower calorie–ones to opt for instead. No one will even know that you’re watching your sexy figure. Because it just comes naturally, right?
And along with the happy hour drinks, come the happy hour snacks.
Swap your crab cakes for shrimp cocktail.
The calorie count in crab cakes varies depending on breading, size and mayonnaise. But you’re likely consuming over 500 calories in two cakes–not counting the sauce you dip it in. So get your seafood fix and order shrimp cocktail instead; shrimp are very low in calories (only 80-90 in three ounces or a few medium-sized ones) and the cocktail sauce is equally bikini-friendly.
Swap your fried mozzarella for fried calamari.
Mmmm, fried food. It’s a tipsy girl’s best friend and I’m not even going to pretend any of us will give it up. Instead of those gooey, greasy fried mozzarella sticks (that have over 200 calories in just one teeny, tiny, measly stick) opt for fried calamari. The calamari has protein in it and only sets you back around 200 calories for a handful. Just avoid the ranch and dunk it in the cocktail sauce instead.
Swap your nachos for chips & salsa.
Split a plate of nachos six ways and you’re looking at over 400 calories. All that cheese, meat, sour cream and beans sure does taste good, but it really packs the punch. Split a bowl of chips and salsa six ways and you’re only looking at about 200 calories and a helluva lot less saturated fat. Shh…listen…it’s your arteries thanking you.
Swap your spinach-artichoke dip for bruschetta.
Split an average-sized serving of this creamy dip six ways and you’re still looking at around 330 calories each. And that’s not counting the bread. One slice of bruschetta, with the usual Italian bread, olive oil, tomatoes and seasonings is around 160 calories. And, luckily, restaurants usually serve these in small portions, so you get just one, maybe two pieces, per person.
Swap your fries for nuts.
There’s no harm in sharing a basket with a few friends, right? Depends on what your definition of “harm” is, I suppose. A basket made with two potatoes split between three will likely have you consuming 700 calories. Add creamy sauces, like ranch or honey-mustard sauce, and you’re pushing 1000. Ouch. On the other hand, you could munch on nuts. Though they vary depending on the nut and whether they’re raw or roasted, you’re looking at around 200 calories for a handful (1/4 cup). And they’re filling (in a non-bloated kind of way) and full of heart-healthy fats.
So no, you don’t have to totally skip out on happy hour if you’re gearing up for those poolside summer days. All it takes is healthy choices during cocktail hour–most of the time at least. (And keep an eye on those portions. Take note that many of these are meant to be split six ways. So even if you’re making the “healthier” swaps, if you eat a whole appetizer to yourself, or split it just two ways, the calories quickly multiply.) Especially if you turn happy hour into happy hours.