If you lovely readers are anything at all like me, I’m sure that you are feeling major dieter’s guilt and remorse about all of the crappy food and alcohol you shamelessly inhaled over the holiday weekend. (Thank you Las Vegas.) I’m sure you’ve heard that certain spirits are better to consume than others in terms of carbohydrate, sugar and calorie content, so I figured I would do some research and present the best low-calorie drinks for you to chose from when trying to adhere to a diet and still watch your weight. The key to any successful lifestyle change is moderation. While you may be sticking to a healthier eating plan on most days, certain occasions call for a bit of relaxation, oftentimes in the form of an alcoholic drink. But, alas, alcohol and dieting do not go hand-in-hand. In addition to your inhibitions being lowered and your will power for clean eating going out the window, when intoxicated, most people tend to consume excess amounts of food. And when you drink, your body processes the alcohol first, leaving carbohydrates and fats to be stored as fat instead of being used as fuel. Add more empty calories on top of that from specialty drinks and mixers and you’ve just exceeded your macros for the week. While alcohol is fat-free and low in carbs, it’s important to remember that it’s the calories that count when it comes to weight management. The problem with alcoholic beverages isn’t necessarily the alcohol itself, but the mixers, syrups, and sodas that get people into calorie trouble. Most drinks start with 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits that only have around 96 calories, but skyrockets up hundreds of calories when you add mixers. That being said, what I learned was that not everything is what it seems and that the true secret to consuming alcohol while dieting is to pay attention to the size of the drink and the mixers added to it, and not so much the alcoholic spirit, itself. Cheers to that.
Wanna hear about empty, wasted calories? 1 gram of alcohol has 7 calories, compared to only 4 calories for a gram of carbohydrates or protein. And calories add up even more quickly for mixed drinks than for beer and wine. The standard 1.5 oz serving of 80-proof alcohol has 96 calories even before you add any mixers. A 6-ounce serving of orange juice has 84 calories, but add a shot of alcohol to make it a screwdriver, and the calories more than double. Drinking alcohol can also make you feel hungrier because alcohol can lower blood sugar. Doesn’t sound so great anymore, huh?
The number of calories in mixed drinks depends on several things, including the amount and proof of the alcohol; the mixers; and the size of the drink. Regardless of whether you’re drinking a beer or a cosmopolitan, the higher the alcohol content, the higher the calories.
- 80-proof vodka (40% alcohol; the most common type) has 64 calories per 1oz
- 86-proof vodka (43% alcohol) has 70 calories/1 oz
- 90-proof vodka (45% alcohol) has 73 calories/1 oz
- 100-proof vodka (50% alcohol) has 82 calories/1 oz
Even if you are careful about your alcohol consumption, all drinks are not created equal on the dieting scale. When it comes to portion size, the average serving size of wine and alcoholic beverages is probably smaller than you think. Beer, on the other hand, is more standardized in bottles and beer glasses. Here’s a short guide to the calorie contents of different types of alcohol to use as a quick resource so you can make the best alcohol choices while sticking to your dietary goals, whatever hey may be. And stock your fridge with Modern Proteins meal prep food delivery so that when you do grub down in a drunken stupor, you can at least eat healthy and clean.
Red Wine – 5 oz = 100 calories/2 grams carbs
White Wine – 5 oz = 100 calories/2 grams carbs
Scotch – 1.5oz = 104 calories/0 gram carbs
Vodka – 1.5oz = 104 calories/0 grams carbs
Light Beer – 12 oz = 108 calories / 6 grams carbs
Martini – 2.2oz = 1135 calories / .2 grams carbs
Draft Beer – 12 oz = 144 calories / 13.2 carbs
Manhattan – 3.3oz = 153 calories / 3.6 grams carbs
|Wine||Calories Per Ounce||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|
|Hard Liquor||Calories Per Ounce||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|
|Cocktail||Calories Per Ounce||Carbs Per Ounce||Per Typical Serving|
|Whiskey Sour||46||3.9||162 calories/
|Piña Colada||55||7.1||245 calories/
|Beer||Calories Per Ounce||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|
|Liqueur||Calories Per Ounce||Carbs||Per 1.5-oz Serving|
|Chocolate Liqueur||103||11 g||155 calories, 17 g carbs|
|Mint Liqueur||103||11 g||155 calories, 17 g carbs|
|Peppermint Liqueur||103||11 g||155 calories, 17 g carbs|
|Strawberry Liqueur||103||11 g||155 calories, 17 g carbs|
Using the breakdown of calories and carbs per serving above, if you budget and plan out your calories carefully, you can actually afford to have a drink or two on special occasions. (Everyday life not included.)
If you are watching your carbohydrate intake and are on a bodybuilder diet or high protein diet, I advise you to stay away from beer, rum, liqueurs, and tequila. And if your concern is antioxidant content over calories, remember the following hierarchy when choosing your alcohol: choose red wine over white wine; choose wine over beer; choose darker-colored beers over lighter-colored beers; and choose beer over liquor and liqueur.
Here’s some surprisingly low calorie drinks you can enjoy on occasion:
Mojito – I hear the word ‘mojito’ and instantly think SUGAR! But did you know that you can very easily substitute the standard 1 tblspn of sugar with 2 tspns of sugar and get the same refreshing beverage for about ½ the calories of the original and around 140 calories total? Want to make it even more low cal? Use Splenda or stevia in lieu of sugar altogether to make it as “diet” an adult beverage as possible. Also request ½ the amount of the simple syrup that they use to keep it “skinny”. (
Rum & Diet Coke – The old school version contains full-on Coca-Cola as the mixer, but swap it for a Diet Coke and magically watch the calories, sugar and carb content go down dramatically. Only 170 calories.
Sea Breeze – Vodka drinker? Grab yourself this refreshing favorite tailor-made for dieters. 4 oz of grapefruit juice, 1.5 oz of cranberry juice and 1 oz of vodka only contains about 180 calories. Watch the juice though – the sugar alone can soar and cause your caloric count to spike, should you over-pour.
Vanilla Vodka & Diet Ginger Ale – Uh, oh! I may have a new addiction! Flavored vodkas are a great way to qualm a sweet tooth, keep the calories down, and still catch a buzz. This particular drink tastes like a slice of cake…and if done right, it only contains 100 calories and is sugar-free!
Tequila & Soda – Craving a margarita? Ditch the sugar-filled drink and go the skinny route with a tequila & club soda on the rocks. Squeeze in a fresh lime and enjoy the under 100 calorie new school take.
Champagne – A tall glass of bubbly is only 85 calories. Bottoms up!
Sour Apple Martini – What!?! Yep. I bet you didn’t think you could have. 2.5 oz sour mix and ¾ oz for both vodka and sour apple liqueur and somehow stay under 160 calories, huh? Surprise!
Vodka & Diet Sprite –It’s not the most exciting drink, but it’s practical and you won’t be mad if you spill it on your clothes. And it’s under a 100 calories, making it one of the skinniest drinks at the bar.
Gin & Tonic – It’s more sophisticated that a Vodka sugar free Red Bull and won’t grow your waistline. A G&T comes out to 103 calories with 1 oz gin and 3 oz tonic.
Swap the tonic for soda water for a lower sugar version.
IFBB Professional Bodybuilder