Low Calorie Alcoholic Drinks

So the weekend has come along and after all it’s been a long week, and you’re looking forward to happy hour and a small break from your diet. But what most people do not realize is that a night on the town and the calories in Alcohol can do some pretty serious damage. Still, going out with your friends and hitting the bars does not have to be a diet downer. With a little planning and foresight you can avoid diet disaster, and below I have listed some low calorie alcoholic drinks you should look at.

Most of us never realize how easy it is to overdo it. It’s pretty obvious to most of us that fast food and desserts are fattening. But when it comes to alcoholic drinks, sometimes the nutrition (or lack thereof) just doesn’t seem to matter. Nevermind that a single cocktail can do more damage than a McDonald’s grilled chicken burger. In fact, 1 gram of alcohol has 7 calories, compared with only 4 for a gram of carbohydrates or protein. Drinks are always typically overlooked as a source of weight gain and as result nobody looks out for low calorie alternatives. This is actually true for all drinks and not just alcohol. Below are some of the good and bad in terms of calories in alcoholic beverages.

Low Calorie Beer

Everyone has heard of the much dreaded beer belly so most people consider beer to be the biggest culprit of them all when it comes to alcohol causing weight gain. The primary point to be made is that beers with less alcohol generally turn out to be less fattening than the alternative with more alcohol. However if drinking something with less alcohol ends up with you drinking more of it then the entire exercise loses its point.

On average most beers will fall below 150 calories per bottle. Guinness, for example, is often looked at as a fatty brew because of the look and the texture, but ends up averaging only 126 calories per serving, this is less than your average latte at the local coffee house. The biggest offenders are the darker beers. But remember that you can easily exceed 500 plus calories once you start drinking more than two bottles of almost any brand of beer.

the worst
Among the fattiest beers is Anchor Porter, weighing in at 209 calories in a 12 oz serving. Looking at imports, the McEwans Scottish Ale delivers a staggering 295 calories per 12 oz serving.

the best
Pabst Extra Light Low Alcohol is only 67 per 12 oz serving which is stunning, and Molson Light which is up to 82 for the same quantity. One of the few other beers coming in under 100 is Anheuser Busch Natural Light, at 95 calories per 12 oz.

For a larger list look at my post on the calories in beer.

Low Calorie Wine


Talk to anyone about wine and you will find a surprisingly large amount of people will think that drinking wine is not bad for your diet. In terms of health properties, research and popular belief about wine seems to be the complete opposite of beer. Many studies suggest that a glass or two of wine each day is quite healthy. Just remember that something that is good for you might still lead to weight gain.

Most countries do not require wine makers to reveal health information, so counting calories can be problematic. The bottles do, however, list their alcohol content and for the most part it is safe to assume that the more alcohol any given bottle wine has, the more calories it will have. If you are really trying to cut down, one of the best options is to stick with spritzers. This gives you less alcohol but more volume to drink.

the worst
One of the highest calorie counts for a glass of wine comes from Ruby Port. In a 4 oz glass, Ruby Port can deliver 185 calories.

the best
Various brands may vary, for a 4 oz glass of wine, but white zinfandel tends to be one of the safest bets with a modest 80 calories. Other smart choices are Chablis, at 85, and chardonnays with around 90 calories all from 4 oz servings.

For a bit more information, have a look at my post on the calories in wine.

Low Calorie Liquor

Liquor bottles don’t list health information either and that again makes it very hard to count, or even remember to count, calories. But usually, the amount of calories in liquor is directly related to the alcohol content. On average, a fluid ounce of vodka, whiskey or brandy at 50% alcohol, will deliver 82 calories each. Once you mix liquors and add other ingredients, the numbers can easily climb. A standard serving of Brandy Alexander is 300 calories and a Harvey Walbanger is 250 calories. So make sure you do not let the bartender go crazy.

the worst
The most come from the sweet liquors, or liqueurs. An ounce of crème de menthe for instance registers an average of 125 calories. Also stay away from cocktails that combine several of the liqueurs, those are just bad news. The highest calorie count from alcoholic drinks are from the cocktails with multiple mixers, like the Long Island Iced Tea for example which clocks in at 780 per drink.

the best
For the lowest calories for the most punch, you have two options, one is to look for lower alcohol content or look to cocktails that don’t go crazy on the mixers. If you do like cocktails, try a Bloody Mary, highball or a Manhattan, as each delivers an average calorie count in the mid 100s for a standard serving and won’t have you regretting it the next day. A couple of other low calorie alcoholic drinks are the Moscow Mule and The Mojito. Here is a list of more low calorie alcoholic cocktail drink recipes.

Additional Resources

Comments

  1. daniel says:

    Hi,
    Nice article, you are right though, i never realized how much damage a night out would do until quite recently. so its nice to know that if i do go out then there is something i can do to limit the damage.

  2. jason says:

    this is all very good but if you really are serious about your fitness and nutrition you would be better off avoiding it altogether, I don’t see it being a problem if you don’t drink it :)

  3. admin says:

    Just a note to all our readers: on this New Year’s Eve 2011, remember not to overdo it with the alcoholic consumption! Last year we had some wild times, even with low calorie alcoholic drinks, but they ended up pretty badly in some cases. Take it easy on the alcohol, that’s the best way, for staying in control and not taking in the calories :)

  4. Maggie says:

    Hi,
    I was wondering if peach schnapps with cranberry juice is fattening?

    Normally I drink alcopops and I can’t seem to find any other drink I like, bar peach schnapps and cranberry.

    Thanks,
    Maggie :)

  5. Alex says:

    Cranberry juice is pretty high in sugar so it wouldn’t be the best…

  6. shanon says:

    Well you just shouldn’t drink if you’re looking to lose weight – I’m actually looking to gain some so it’s a good place to start!

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