Alcohol is highly caloric in itself: 1 gram of alcohol brings in 7 calories, which is more than 1 gram of protein or 1 gram of carbohydrates, and almost as much as 1 gram of pure fat. To make
things worse, many alcoholic beverages are naturally high in sugars, and/or contain added sugars.
Not to mention that some drinks also contain blended cream. Factoring in these additions, the caloric consequences of alcoholic drinks are disastrous.
Alcohol is used by our body as a source of ready energy. The more alcohol available in the
bloodstream, the less our body will break down its fat deposits for energy purposes. This also
means that, whenever drinking alcohol with a meal, a larger part of that meal will be stored as fat
deposits, since energy is furnished by alcohol rather than the food ingested. Moreover, alcohol
can be used by the body to make lipids (fats), which contribute to weight gain and heart disease.
Therefore, I stand by the axiom that alcohol has no place in a weight control diet. As a social
pastime, it should be consumed in minimal amounts (if at all), and with increased awareness as to
its side effects.
Many grocery stores offer an impressive assortment of alcoholic beverages. There is one thing, however, that you won’t find in this aisle: Nutrition labels containing calorie information.
That’s right, none of the alcoholic drinks tell the consumer how many calories he or she
will be ingesting. There is a reason for this, of course, and that is: The calorie content is simply too
high to mention. If it were disclosed, sales just may go down.
We will now review the Calorie Content of the most common Alcoholic Beverages. Before
starting, let me say that it was rather difficult to put this list together, due to the wide discrepancy
of opinions regarding the calorie content of many alcoholic drinks. Calorie counts for cocktail
drinks, creamy liquors, and sweet dessert wines, in particular, vary significantly between various
sources (even for the same beverage amount). This may depend in part on the preparation of the
respective drinks. Anyway, I did my best to streamline the various data I found. Here are the
- Wines typically bring in 60-160 calories per 4 oz glass, with dry wines at the lower end of the
range, and sweeter wines at the higher end. (Note: These figure apply to table wines, not dessert wines.)
- Sherry wines bring in 170-190 calories per 4 oz glass.
- Sweet dessert wines (e.g., Port wine) are more caloric, from 200 up to 350 calories per 4 oz glass.
- Liquors (100 proof, 50% alcohol), such as Brandy, Whisky, Gin, Rum, Vodka, bring in about 125 calories per 1.5 oz shot (jigger).
- Bacardi (a rum derivative) may bring in 100-180 calories per 1.5 oz, depending on the brand.
- Tequila brings about 100 calories per 1.5 oz jigger.
- Cocktail drinks consisting of alcohol plus added sugar generally have a high calorie content:
- Margarita: 220-270 calories per 4 oz glass
- Martini: 200-280 calories per 4 oz glass
- Pina Colada: 230-300 calories per 4 oz glass
- As for creamy liquors (such as Bailey’s, Mudslide, etc), they come loaded with calories: A 4 oz glass may contain well in excess of 300 calories, and a restaurant-size serving may bring in more than 800 calories.
- Carbonated alcoholic beverages (Alco-Pops) contain on average more than 200 calories per 12 oz can, unless an artificial sweetener is used.
- Beer brings in about 140-200 calories per 12 oz can, depending on the brand.
- Light Beer contains a somewhat lower calorie amount, about 100 calories per can.
- Lager contains about 132 calories per can.
Note: All calorie counts are approximate.