There are a lot of names for alcohol-based weight gain. Although we enter college at age 18, most people will blame the notorious “freshman fifteen” on booze; and a new job or any other big life change can result in an unexpected spike in alcohol consumption, and a few extra pounds, too. After college I calculated the difference my alcohol intake was having on my calorie count at day’s end, and the mystery of my suddenly tight-fitting clothes was solved. Sure, post college I was purely drinking too much, but once I curbed my intake I realized that half of my problem was simply not knowing the right things to drink to avoid tipping the scales, so to speak. Drinks aren’t all created equal in terms of calories — and the numbers might surprise you.
I’m going to go ahead and exclude mixers from this discussion. We all know that if we want to watch our waistlines, high-calorie mixers like margaritas, full-calorie sodas and fruit juices are treats and should be regarded as such. They at least double the calorie cost of a drink, and as far as I’m concerned they’re made for college girls with the metabolism of a tiger shark. There will be no more chocolate martinis in my future. So, what’s left? Wine, beer, and spirits. Go ahead and think of how you arrange these beverages from best to worst in terms of cost to your dietary habits. Now let’s break down the numbers.
|Wine||Calories||Carbs||Per 5-oz Serving|
|Chardonnay||20||0.4 g||100 calories, 2 g carbs|
|Pinot Grigio||20||0.4 g||100 calories, 2 g carbs|
|Zinfandel® White Wine||20||0.4 g||100 calories, 2 g carbs|
|Cabernet Sauvignon||20||0.8 g||100 calories, 4 g carbs|
|Merlot Red Wine||20||0.8 g||100 calories, 4 g carbs|
Wine, surprisingly to me, is the best choice for the calorie-conscious. I was amazed. I always thought wine was a lot like beer in the sense that it had a lot of “food value” but it turns out a glass of wine at a restaurant (I don’t know about you but most places in Austin serve a 4 ounce glass of wine… stingy) is around 100 calories or less. That means if you split a bottle of wine with a friend or your boo, you’re really only taking in about 250 calories. That’s like a scoop of ice cream. I love a glass of wine with my dinner, and one is almost always enough for me. So this is happy news.
|Hard Liquor||Calories||Carbs||Per 1.5-oz Serving|
|Vermouth||32||0.2 g||64 calories, 0.4 g carbs|
|Coconut Rum||51||5.3 g||77 calories, 8 g carbs|
|Beefeater® Gin||65||0 g||98 calories, 0 g carbs|
|Rye Whiskey||69||0 g||104 calories, 0 g carbs|
|Scotch Whiskey||69||0 g||104 calories, 0 g carbs|
|White Rum||69||0 g||104 calories, 0 g carbs|
|Vodka||69||0 g||104 calories, 0 g carbs|
|Cognac||69||2 g||104 calories, 3 g carbs|
|Tequila||69||5.3 g||104 calories, 8 g carbs|
|Gilbey’s® Gin||79||0 g||119 calories, 0 g carbs|
Next in the hierarchy is liquors. While they tip the scales by the ounce, they’re also a heck of a lot more potent — hence their usually being mixed with something. A shot of most liquors is around 100 calories, so if you’re not mixing it with anything caloric (you can use soda or diet anything) you’re still talking about 100 calories a drink. I don’t know about you, but I prefer wine over a liquor drink, unless we’re talking about a martini, which is usually 3 shots (good lord) and will cost you as much. Eep. Those are a treat I guess. But for sipping with dinner, your options are pretty equal between wine and a one-shot cocktail.
|Beer||Calories||Carbs||Per 12-oz Serving|
|“Light” Beer||9||0.5 g||108 calories, 6 g carbs|
|Draft Beer||12||1.1 g||144 calories, 13.2 g carbs|
|Lager||14||1.1 g||168 calories, 13.2 g carbs|
|Ale||18||1.1 g||216 calories, 13.2 g carbs|
I found this especially surprising. I mean I knew beer had a lot of food value, that’s why people drink it — so they don’t get outrageously drunk. But I really thought a glass of wine and a glass of beer were around the same in terms of heaviness. Turns out if it’s the wind-down factor you’re looking for, you’ll get the same amount of booze for fewer calories if you skip beer altogether.
I guess it just goes to show, I happened to make all the wrong choices in college — beer and martinis mostly — and that explains the reservoir of unanticipated calories I accumulated around my waistline. But amnesty to have a glass of wine with dinner feels fabulous. As always, lovelies, this post is designed to help you choose a drink wisely — do drink responsibly if you drink at all. I wanted to share these numbers because I found them so useful! Check out the calorie values of more drinks (liqueurs and such) at the source.
Do any of these surprise you?