It’s easy to underestimate liquid calories. They’re unassuming and difficult to track—so before you know it, you’ve guzzled 1,000 calories in the span of happy hour.
In fact, your social drinking could be the lifestyle factor standing between 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 Opens a New Window. , 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 maybe you’re not a scotch drinker. Instead of slugging back three beers, opt for one glass of Laphroaig—it’ll save you the calories in the long run.
“We’re so concerned with the portion size of our food, but portion is the biggest issue when it comes to drinking too many calories,” Gans adds.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Opens a New Window. , 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. So, with these amounts in mind, read through our guidline on drinking to keep your physique in check, as well as doing exercise with the use of an amazon balance disc that can be found online. And if you’re not keen on drinking something you don’t love, at least opt for the healthier options we’ve outlined.
“One 5oz serving of wine is about 123 calories for both red and white, give or take,” Gans says. So technically you can say that wine has fewer calories per houce than hard alcohol (we’re getting to liquor’s specifics in a bit). But you’re not going to sip on a shot of Chardonnay all night, are you? Exactly. Here’s what wine drinkers need to know:
Pay Attention to Alcohol Content
Wine can range from 100 to 150 calories, depending on the alcohol content (9-17% ABV). Aim for an ABV that’s lower on the spectrum, somewhere between 9–12%, since the amount of alcohol is what’s influencing the number of calories.
Realize 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 and Gans, they’re very similar, but whites tend to be lower in alcohol than reds.
Something else to keep in mind: 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 Opens a New Window. researchers confirmed resveratrol, a compound found in red wine (or, more specifically, the skin of grapes), promotes longevity and blocks diseases by boosting cells’ energy production. One study Opens a New Window. published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found people who drank 8-14 glasses of wine per week may reduce their risk of catching a cold by up to 60 percent; and the findings were stronger in men and women who drank red. And another study Opens a New Window. published in the American Heart Association Journal discovered alcohol increases levels of good cholesterol when consumed in moderation, and can diminish your risk of heart disease by 30 percent.
The higher the alcohol content, the higher a drink’s calories climb. So, if you’re out to dinner and want to enjoy just a beer (as in singular, one, uno), then splurging on your favorite brew is 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 opt for light beers that are lower in alcohol.
“I recommend beer, actually,” 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; so, 80 percent of American-produced beer will have calories, carbs, protein, fat, alcohol content, even a freshness date and ingredients on display.
Of course, 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. In some cases, you’re right. But that could also be because you just have the mindset light beers will taste like you’re sipping on liquid cardboard. Experiment and find ones you like.