Your craft beer or cocktail of choice may be amounting to many calories a glass. Use these master tips and recommendations to order smart instead, whatever you mark as liquor.
It’s very easy to underestimate liquid calories. They’re unassuming and hard to track.So before you know it, you’ve swallowed 1,000 calories in the span of happy hour.
Actually, your social drinking could be the lifestyle factor standing among you and six-pack abs.
“If you want to save calories while drinking and yes, this sounds ridiculous but choose what you don’t love,” says Keri Gans, M.S., a registered dietitian, nutritionist, and writer. “Think: What are you going to drink less of if you’re trying to cut calories?”
So perhaps you’re not a whiskey drinker. Instead of slugging back three beers, select for one glass of Laphroaig—it’ll spare you the calories on the long run.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, standard U.S. drink sizes are 12oz of 5% ABV beer, 5oz of 12% ABV wine, 8oz of 7% malt liquor, and 1.5oz of 40% (80-proof) liquor. If you’re not keen on drinking something you don’t love, at least choose from some a little bit healthier options.
“One 5oz serving of wine is around 123 calories for both red and white” Gans says. So technically you can say that wine has less calories per houce than hard alcohol. But you’re not going to sip on a shot of Chardonnay all night, are you? Exactly. This is what wine drinkers need to know.
Focus on Alcohol Content
Wine can go from 100 to 150 calories, depending on the alcohol content (9-17% ABV). Go for an ABV that’s lower on the spectrum, somewhere between 9–12%, since the amount of alcohol is what’s affecting the number of calories.
Know that Whites and Reds Are Comparable in Calories (when the alcohol content is the same).
You’ll read that whites tend to be slightly lower in calories. According to the USDA, they’re very similar, but whites tend to be lower in alcohol than reds, so that can account for varying calories:
5oz of Chardonnay: 127 calories (3.1g carbs)
5oz of Sauvignon Blanc: 127 calories (3g carbs)
5oz of Cabernet Sauvignon: 127 calories (3.8g carbs)
5oz of Pinot Grigio: 127 calories (3g carbs)
5oz of Riesling: 128 calories (5.5g carbs)
5oz of Merlot: 127 calories (3.7g carbs)
5oz of Pinot Noir: 127 calories (3.4g carbs)
Another thing to remember: rosé (a sweeter wine) comes in at about 130 and champagne has about 96 calories per 5oz.
But Red Wine Does Have Its Benefits
Harvard Medical School researchers confirmed resveratrol, a compound found in red wine (specifically, the skin of grapes), promotes longevity and blocks diseases by boosting cells’ energy production. People who drink 8-14 glasses of wine per week may reduce their risk of getting a cold by up to 60 percent. The findings were stronger in men and women who drank red. And another study published in the American Heart Association Journal discovered alcohol increases levels of good cholesterol when consumed in normal quantity and can reduce your risk of heart disease by 30 percent.
The higher the alcohol content, the higher the drink’s calories are. So, if you’re out to dinner and want to enjoy just a beer (as in singular), then splurging on your favorite brew is just fine. If you’re out at a bachelor party or drinking your way through a nasty breakup, then you might want to do your physique a favor and go for light beers that are lower in alcohol.
“I recommend beer” Gans says. “You know exactly what you’re getting, calorie-wise.” Actually, the four top brewers: Anheuser-Busch InBev, MillerCoors, Constellation Brands, and Heineken—have all agreed to add nutrition labels to their bottles by 2020. That means, 80 percent of American-produced beer will have calories, carbs, protein, fat, alcohol content, even a freshness date and ingredients on the label.
Obviously, some guys might argue that those found in every bar and gas station light beers aren’t going to taste as good as beers higher in alcohol. Now and again, you’re right.However that could also be because you simply have the mindset light beers will taste like you’re sipping on liquid cardboard. Experiment and discover the ones you like.
Light Beers Under 100 Calories
99 calories: Corona Light (5g carbs), Heineken Light (6.8g carbs), Budweiser Select (3.2g carbs), Yuengling Light Lager (8.5)
96 calories: Miller Lite (3.2g carbs)
95 calories: Natural Light (3g carbs), Michelob ULTRA (2.6g carbs), Anheuser-Busch Light Pale Lager (3.2g), Amstel Light (5g carbs)
64 Calories: Miller 64 (2.4g carbs)
63 calories: Beck’s Premier Light (3.8g carbs)
55 calories: Budweiser Select 55 (1.8g carbs)
Be Wary of Craft Beers
Craft beer might be more appealing, but it’s higher in alcohol and can pack hundreds of calories. Some of the worst parties:
Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA: 540 calories and 50g carbs (18% ABV)
Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale: 330 calories and 32g carbs (9.6% ABV)
Sam Adams Imperial White: 321 calories and 28g carbs (10.30% ABV)
When It Comes to Beer on Tap
“The size of the glass is everything,” Gans says. “Pilsner glasses are usually smaller and pint glasses are bigger.” Sure, you’re probably tempted to go for the Oktoberfest Das Boot vessel—but that’s a huge amount of beer. Some pilsner glasses start around 7oz; beer mugs are about 10oz, as are goblets; steins can be anywhere from 12-16oz. Be mindful of how much you’re actually drinking if you’re trying to watch calories.
Be Careful With Hard Cider
Most brands are loaded with sugar (some can contain 7 teaspoons of sugar), so choose for low-sugar varieties or ones that are dry (they have less sugar and a higher alcohol content). Just know cider will have, for the most part, more sugar and carbs than beer.
“If it’s gin, vodka, rum, whiskey, or scotch, an ounce is 64 calories for 80% proof and 80 calories for 100% proof,” Gans says.
Make It Neat or On the Rocks
Both clear and dark liquor are pretty close in calories; as with wine, it’s a myth that they differ, she explains. But it’s always healthiest (lowest in calories) to drink your liquor neat (served with no water, without being chilled, or served over ice or any other mixer), with a splash of water, or on the rocks (over ice). You’ll keep your calories down.
MIXED DRINKS + COCKTAILS
“The majority calories from cocktails comes from the size of the drink and what we put in it. Otherwise, they start off pretty comparable in calories,” Gans says. Problem is, cocktails also come in a huge variety of glasses. Calories can vary tremendously.
Be Mindful When Choosing a Mixer
The best mixers are obviously ones that don’t provide any additional calories. “Seltzer and club soda are by far the best, hands down,” Gans says. “Add a squeeze of lemon or lime, or throw in a wedge of either for a burst of flavor. Tonic might seem healthy, but it has added sugar, so it’s a step below.” Diet sodas aren’t too terrible.
Only Add a Splash of Juice
Juices are sugar bombs. “There’s nothing wrong with a splash of cranberry or orange. But a juice-heavy drink is going to set you back,” Gans says.
Never Opt for Pre-Made Mixes
These packs are convenient, but they’re also loaded with sodium and sugar. Margaritas on the rocks are not so bad for you if they’re made from scratch. Anything else will cause a steep rise in calories. If you can’t control what a bartender is using, opt for a simple drink, like a vodka soda.