If you enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or a few beers when you’re out with friends, you’re certainly not alone. But just like with any beverage other than water, it’s important to know what’s in your alcoholic drink and how it contributes to your diet. While we pay attention to the calories in our food, that number is often overlooked when it comes to drinks. Unfortunately, alcohol has a relatively high calorie content, and it has no nutritional value. To make matters worse, our bodies metabolize and store alcohol as fat, which can lead to weight gain and other health issues.
It can be very easy to drink a lot of calories without even realizing it, which is why moderation is key. You can still enjoy alcohol, but when it comes to how it affects your waistline and your health, it’s helpful to be informed. Here are three key things to consider the next time you’re about to order a drink:
1. The type of alcohol makes a difference. While actual calories can vary depending on the brand, light beer contains less calories than regular beer, IPAs, pale ales, and many fruity beers. Beer ranges from 100 calories for one can or bottle of light beer to 150 calories and above for regular beer. While 50 calories may not seem like a significant difference, if you’re planning on having more than one beer, those numbers start to add up quickly!
Wine is generally around 125 to 130 calories per 5-ounce glass. Dry white wines tend to be the lowest in calories, followed by blush wines, then dry reds. Usually, the higher the alcohol content, the more calories. And sweet wines like Port have a lot of calories and a high sugar content.
Hard liquor like vodka contains around 100 calories per small 1.5-ounce serving. And if you are mixing your liquor with fruit juice or soda, remember those calories count too! Order your drinks with diet or club soda instead.
Most specialty cocktails like margaritas have added juices and syrups which makes them extra tasty but super sugary, and therefore, high in calories. A martini can have 225 calories, and a piña colada can be over 500 calories! Try to stick to just one of these drinks and then convert to light beer or wine after that.
2. Beware of serving sizes. The calories listed above are based on standard drink portions. Often, especially with mixed drinks, you will get a much bigger size. So you can probably double or even triple several of the calorie contents to get a real idea of how much it’ll cost you. For example, those huge margaritas that come in the fancy glasses will set you back over 600 calories!
3. Pay attention to what you are eating with your drinks. Many of us know that alcohol can lower our inhibitions and stimulate hunger hormones. Consuming excess calories from alcoholic drinks and overeating is a bad combination that can lead to unwanted weight gain. So, you have to be extra vigilant about the foods that you eat when you’re consuming alcohol. While it’s always a good idea to eat something with your drinks so you don’t get too tipsy, be wary of bar snacks and some appetizers that can be loaded with fat and calories. Try to avoid the fried options and stick with something like hummus with veggies or a salad.
Entertaining at home?
Whether it’s a small dinner party or a big celebration, drinking alcohol at home allows you to control the calorie content more easily. If you want to serve mixed drinks, look for light/or skinny mixes. My personal favorite is Jose Cuervo Light Wild Berry Margarita mix! It’s got everything blended in; all you have to do is serve it on ice.
You don’t have to cut out alcohol completely to maintain a healthy weight. But you can make better decisions when it comes to choosing which beverages you consume. You’ll be happy you did.
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Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.