Happy hour is a fun time to step out of the normal work flow and hang out with coworkers and friends. But it can snowball into an unexpectedly drunken night. These tips are for those who want to enjoy alcohol without overdoing it (especially in the company of coworkers). Here are some ways to stay healthy and survive happy hour:

  • Start with water. Starting with water ensures that you stay hydrated (happy hour doesn’t usually last just an hour). After your first beverage alternate it with water (water, alcohol, water, etc). The extra water will help crowd out all the alcohol. Remember that reasoning is the first thing to go with alcohol. Delaying that helps 😉
  • Save alcohol for after food. Eating snacks or appetizers at happy hour is the norm. Instead of pairing food with alcohol, stick to water. Here’s why: (1) you won’t be consuming a calorie beverage with food, which will help you moderate excess calories and (2) you’re just washing your food down anyway so water’s the perfect choice! Save your beverage(s) for after eating so you can enjoy it unadulterated by food. Plus, you’ll be full. Listen to that fullness cue and it will help you portion control the number of alcoholic beverages you’ll drink.
  • Choose champagne, a light beer, or simple cocktails. There are lighter options when it comes to alcohol, which is helpful if you’re trying not to overdo it in calories. Champagne is about 80 calories as compared to about 120-140 calories for wine (5 oz of each). If you want a cocktail, opt for simple ones like vodka soda with lime. Fun fact: tonic water is flavored with a syrup, so beware!
  • Order sparkling water with lime. It looks like alcohol but it isn’t! Please don’t call it a “mock-tail”. That’s not cool.
  • Set a daily/weekly maximum and stick to it! Guidelines for daily moderation is 1 alcoholic beverage for women and 2 for men. 1 serving is: 1 oz of liquor, 5 oz of wine, and 12 oz of beer. In addition to sticking to this, set a weekly limit: like 3-4/week max. If you don’t use it, you lose it a.k.a. you can’t save it all for Saturday. Make it a challenge with friends to get extra support with your maximum!
  • Schedule something for after happy hour. It’s a legitimate excuse to leave and to not drink/overdo it. Coming home to work out and have dinner with my hubby is what I look forward to most after work. My family is important to me. So, I make that a priority to come home at a reasonable hour. I also try my best to be consistent with exercise so I normally don’t drink after work. My schedule is already against me. I’d rather not make alcohol the reason I miss a workout or dinner at home.

So the next time you go out for happy hour, you’ll be fully armed with these healthy tips. Got forth and drink responsibly, friends!


Thomas is a Registered Dietitian in the Bay Area, California. He specializes in athletic performance and weight gain/loss. He loves Brussels sprouts but has never met a french fry he didn’t like. If you want to work with a Rise coach like Thomas, sign up at www.rise.us.