Want to lose weight but can’t stick with water? Need to drink but want to skip the calories? Read on and see which of your favorite alcoholic drinks is the lesser evil.
Cliché as it may sound, moderation is still the key to a successful change in lifestyle. But given that nobody’s perfect, there are times that you may be “forced” to succumb to little temptations like a glass of an alcoholic drink. Although alcohol is free of fat and has insignificant amount of carbohydrates, it may still contain calories which are the compounds that count when it comes to weight management.
We don’t want to push it but we’ll say it again to remind you – alcohol and weight loss don’t go together. But for those occasions that call for a bit of relaxation, or for that craving to unwind after a hard day at work, go ahead and drink but be careful about your choice of beverage.
Here’s a table of your favorite alcoholic drinks and its calorie count per serving:
|Alcoholic Beverage||Serving Size||Calories|
|Vodka with soda (40%)||30ml vodka + 150ml soda||64|
|White Wine (11.5%)||150ml||70-120|
|Sparkling Wine (11.5%)||150ml||70-120|
|Red Wine (13.5%)||150ml||100-120|
|Full strength beer (4.8%)||425ml||155|
|Gin and tonic (4.5%)||30ml gin + 250ml tonic||200|
|Rum and cola (4.6%)||375ml can||248|
|Piña Colada (13%)||150ml||290-480|
|Premix gin and tonic (4.5%)||375ml can||320|
The Winner: Vodka + Soda Water
It seems that Vodka with soda water is our winner. The Efficient Drinker tells us that a shot or 1.5 ounces of vodka (80 proof) is just 97 calories. The colorless, odorless vodka used to be America’s favorite spirit. After more than a decade of being at the top spot, its sales dwindled in the past two years and whiskey is now taking over.
Add soda water which, of course, has zero calorie and there you get a somehow healthy yet somehow boring drink. The only calorie in vodka soda comes from the liquor itself. But note that if you mix vodka with tonic water, you’ll get additional 83 calories and 21.5 grams of sugar as this clear and fizzy liquid is made up of sugar, quinine and carbonated water. Tonic water and soda water are two different things hence you cannot substitute one for the other.
Runner-up: Wine or Liquor
If you wish to make the choice as simple as possible, choose between wine or liquor. Order a liquor neat or on the rocks and skip the mixers, soda and syrups. Below is a list of famous spirits and liquor brands and their corresponding calorie count per serving.
|Spirits & Liquor Brand||Calories per Serving|
|Amaretto||118 per 1.5 oz|
|Bacardi Rum||120 per 2.5 fl oz|
|Bacardi Rum, Limon||97 per 1.5 oz|
|Bacardi Rum, Solera||93 per 1.5 oz|
|Brandy, 100 proof||125 per 1 jigger|
|Cinzano Dry Vermouth||32 per 1 oz|
|Jagermeister||113 per 1 oz|
|Scotch Whiskey||115 per 1 jigger|
|Tequila||115 per 1 jigger|
|Vodka Blue||60 per 1 oz|
As SparkPeople’s research says, a shot of vodka or tequila or whiskey has about 100 calories only which is equal to the calories of a (wine) glass of red or white wine.
And if you chose wine, it may actually be good for you. Unlike most alcoholic beverages with empty calories or with zero nutritional value, wine offers nutrients because of its key ingredient – wine grapes. The grapes used in wines are packed with antioxidants that absorb free radicals. Resveratrol and flavanoids found in wine grapes do not just serve as antioxidants, they are also perceived to protect the heart by reducing cell inflammation and blood clotting. Some studies even suggest that the antioxidants found in wines may inhibit cancer as it induces the natural death of damaged or diseased cells.
Red wines actually contain more minerals and antioxidants that most white wines. This is because of the higher flavanoid content in the wine grapes’ skins and seeds. Anthocyanidin is a flavanoid in red wine that provides the ruby color. So the deeper the color of your wine is, the longer the contact of the skin during fermentation, hence the higher anthocyanidin flavanoid content.
Red wine varieties with grapes grown in regions with cool and damp climates appear to have a higher amount of resveratrol. Older wines are likewise higher in resveratrol. Wines made from warmer regions, on the other hand, make higher alcohol wine. This is because of the higher sugar content in the grapes that they use which converts to a higher alcohol content in wine. Among the dry wines with typically higher alcohol content are Amarone, Shiraz, Zinfandel, and GSM or Grenache-Syrah-Mouvedre.
Other nutrients that you can find in wine are manganese, potassium, iron, Vitamin B6, riboflavin, phosphorus and choline.
Of course, the nutritional value and health benefits of wine can easily be overshadowed by its alcohol and calorie content the moment you drink too much of it. Remember that only two glasses of wine are recommended for daily intake for men.
You may also want to consider the alcohol content because it is the alcohol that has the calories. If you can, check the label. Lighter and younger wines tend to have lower alcohol content. Champagne and sparkling wines have low alcohol content too. Pinot Noirs are most often the reds with lower alcohol. Generally, fortified wines are high in alcohol. Sweet wines like Tawny Port, Port and Banyuls have double the alcohol calories and double the sugar carb too.
Here’s a quick guide on some of your well-loved wines and their calorie content per typical glass serving.
|Wine Type and Brand||Calorie content per serving|
|Franzia Cabernet Sauvignon||105 calories per 5 oz|
|Napa Cabernet Sauvignon||175 calories per 5 oz|
|Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon||119 calories per 5 oz|
|Carlo Rossi Cabernet Sauvignon||125 calories per 5 oz|
|Sterling Vineyards Chardonnay||156 calories per 5 oz|
|Dom Perignon Champagne (2000)||110 calories per 5 oz|
|Moet Imperial Champagne (White Star)||114 calories per 5 oz|
|Marsala||80 per 4 fl oz|
|Merlot||95 per 4 fl oz|
|Rose||95 per 4 fl oz|
|Davinci Chianti||125 calories per 5 oz|
|Sauvignon Blanc||143 calories per 5 oz|
|Carlo Rossi Burgundy||135 calories per 5 oz|
|Brut Nature Champagne||120 calories per 5 oz|
|Tawny Port||106 calories per 2 oz|
|German Auclese Riesling||160 calories per 6 oz|
|Australian Shiraz||190 calories per 6 oz|
Must Avoid: Beer and Flavored Drinks
If you really wish to avoid the calories, stay away from beer and cocktails as they are the ones with the higher calorie content. While a single can of beer doesn’t have the same calories as a milkshake or a cheeseburger, it is unlikely that you will stop with just one. Don’t ever rely on cutting back on the amount you drink. Given the addicting nature of alcohol, it is very much less likely that you will rationally choose to stick with just a shot or a can or a bottle.
Want to know the calorie content of your beer favorites? The calorie counts listed below were provided by CalorieKing and are based on a single can/bottle/12-ounces serving.
|Budweiser Select 66||55|
|Guinness Extra Stout||176|
|Miller Genuine Draft||143|
|Sierra Nevada Pale Ale||175|
|Sam Adams Boston Lager||180|
|Pabst Blue Ribbon||145|
|Rolling Rock Extra Pale Lager||132|
The beer belly is enough evidence to prove that beer can’t help you with your weight management goals. Beer is fat-free, yes. But then again, it has calories. And it’s very easy to overdo drinking so if you finish a can in one sitting, that’s already 150 calories added to your body. Consume more while having a good conversation with a friend and you’ll end up with serious calorie overload. What is more, your liver is pressured to burn alcohol instead of fat when you drink so your belly will have the tendency to accumulate the fat and the excess calories.
|Flavored Drink||Calories per Serving|
|Martini||295 calories per 4 oz|
|Cosmopolitan||175 calories per 3.5 oz|
|Strawberry Daiquiri – Bartles & Jaymes||220 calories per 12 oz|
|Skinnygirl White Peach Margarita||298 calories per 12 oz|
|Jose Cuervo – Golden Margarita Pre mixed||424 calories per 12 oz|
|Bloody Mary||239 calories per 12 oz|
|Flavored Vodka||120 calories per 1.5 oz|
|Skinnygirl Sangria||132 calories per 5 oz|
|Bacardi Light Mojito||278 calories per 12 oz|
|Long Island Iced Tea||529 calories per 12 oz|
|Black Jack||186 per 3.5 oz|
|Bahama Mama||300 per 8 oz|
|Gin Tonic||170 per 7.5 fl oz|
|Godiva Chocolate Martini||438 per 6 oz|
|Sex on the beach||292 per 4.2 oz|
|Singapore Sling||230 per 8 fl oz|
Mixed drinks have the highest potential for larger calorie count because you’re starting with a base of about a hundred calories for the liquor. Then you add mixers to enhance the flavor – to make it sweeter, more sour or savory – but it also significantly augment the carbs and calories. Drink mixers include caffeinated beverages, carbonated drinks, dairy products, juices, sauces and syrups; most of which are high in sugar. Among the highest calorie flavored drinks are long island iced tea, margarita, and piña colada.
Technically speaking, vodka sodas have the least amount of calories. Note, however, that clinical and experimental research on alcoholism showed that alcoholic beverages made with low-calorie mixer like vodka soda can get you drunk faster. Also consider the fact that drinks with low alcohol content may entice you to drink more. So in reality, the lackluster vodka-soda isn’t the only diet drink that you’re allowed to take if you’re on a weight loss or weight management plan.
If you really can’t stick with water and you do not want to ruin your social life, take these tips in mind:
- Choose wine. It is the most diet-friendly choice. It’s relatively low in calories plus it has some nutritional value.
- Drink liquor by itself. Again, by itself. Stick with unflavored vodka please.
- If you crave for a mixed drink, consider sodas, juices and diet tonic.
- No diet mixers? Choose martinis. Be wiser however and skip the chocolate martini.
- Light beer is a lesser evil than pale ale.
Now, if you insist on drinking what you like but swears not to add an extra pound or an inch onto your waistline, you may want to:
- limit yourself to two drinks, or
- alternate between alcoholic drink and water throughout the night.
Obviously, a healthy and fit body won’t be the result of simply counting calories in your alcoholic drink. You still have to see what truly works for you and stick with it. Problems in gaining and losing weight may be attributed to lack of self-control. So if you believe you’re easy to be influenced and would have a hard time stopping at two shots, then stick with low-calorie and less flavorful alcoholic beverages. If you know your limit and you can consistently keep up with it, then go ahead and indulge from time to time.
Going back to our initial statement, moderation is the key. It is responsible drinking and not simply calorie counting that can help you enjoy a night out drinking with friends without having to worry about hangover, gaining pounds, and getting your liver at risk afterwards.