If you knew how many calories were in your favorite alcoholic drink … would you still drink it?
Drinking can definitely send your diet on a detour by adding hundreds of calories to your daily intake. The culprits: mixers, chasers and syrups. These add-ons can pack hundreds of extra calories into a cocktail and sometimes it is pretty easy to overdo it.
In addition to mixers, syrups and chasers, portion size can make those calories add up fast. The portion size of one standard drink may be smaller than you think! One standard drink is equivalent to:
- One 12 ounce beer
- One 5 ounce glass of wine
- One 1.5 ounce shot of 80 proof hard liquor (higher proofs contain more alcohol content and calories).
It is easier to keep track of the amount of beer we consume because it is usually served in a bottle or can. Unfortunately, when we are not measuring our drinks and allowing someone else to pour them, we might be getting more than just one drink, which means more alcohol and more calories.
So how do we keep our calories under control while drinking?
Here are a few tips:
Alternate alcoholic with non-alcoholic drinks to decrease your caloric intake. Ideally, your non-alcoholic drink, or mocktail, should be low calorie or no calorie. Many mocktails look just like the real thing, so try ordering a soda water with lime if you are drinking vodka sodas. Not only does this help save calories, but it also keeps you hydrated.
Choose light beer, wine or simple cocktails made with low-calorie mixers. Try mixing drinks with water, club soda, low calorie juices, artificial sweeteners or sugar free syrups. Fruit and vegetable juice can also be good choices because they can contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Be careful though, calories can add up quickly, even if they are more nutritious.
Some mixers that will NOT pack on the pounds include:
- Diet soda or diet tonic: 0 calories
- Orange juice (6 oz): 84 calories
- Cranberry juice cocktail (8 oz): 136 calories
- Light orange juice (8 oz): 50 calories
- Light cranberry juice (8 oz): 40 calories
- Light lemonade (8 oz): 5 calories
- Coffee, tea: 0 calories
- Sugar-free margarita or sweet ‘n’ sour mix: 0 calories
- Lemon or lime juice (1/2 oz): 10 calories
- Sugar-free syrups: 0 calories
Skip the mixer all together. Many companies are making fruit or flavor infused liquors. Try ordering this on the rocks. The flavoring does not add any calories to your drink!
Dilute your drink. Another option is diluting your drink with club soda or sparkling water. Wine spritzers are a low-calorie standby. If you usually drink vodka and cranberry, for example, try it with club soda, a splash of cranberry juice and a squeeze of lime. Garnish with a wedge of citrus or pineapple to add flavor and few calories.
Have a game plan. Decide before you go out how many cocktails you are going to have, or eat smaller, healthier meals before a night of drinking. Be sure to eat something light before you drink so that you do not get tipsy after the first drink or overindulge on food later in the evening. It is important to know your limits and stick to them.
**It is also important to realize that calories are not your only concern when drinking alcohol. Keep in mind that drinking in moderation and responsibly is the best way to ensure your safety, and the safety of those around you. **
So just how many calories are in your favorite cocktail?
These calorie counts for popular alcoholic drinks are based on popular recipes, but may vary depending on ingredients and portions.
- Pina Colada (6 oz): 378 calories
- Mojito (8 oz): 214 calories
- Cosmopolitan (4 oz): 200 calories
- Chocolate martini: (2 oz each vodka, chocolate liqueur, cream, 1/2 oz creme de cacao, chocolate syrup): 438
- Margarita (8 oz): 280
- Banana Daiquiri (5 oz) (1.5 oz Rum, 1.5 oz. lime juice, 1.5 oz. banana, .5 oz Triple Sec, 1 tsp. sugar, 1 maraschino cherry): 307
- Green apple martini (1 oz each vodka, sour apple, apple juice): 148
- Martini (2.5 oz): 160
- Port wine (3 oz):128
- Bloody Mary (5 oz): 118
- Red wine (5 oz):120
- White wine (5 oz): 120
- Alcohol-free wine (5 oz): 20-30
- Beer (12 oz): 150-198
- Light beer (12 oz): 95-136
- Ultra-light beer (12 oz): 64-95
- Champagne (5oz): 106-120
- Coffee liqueur (3 ounces): 348
- Godiva chocolate liqueur (3 oz): 310
- Wine spritzer (5 oz): 100
- Eggnog with rum (8 ounces): 370
- Hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps (8 oz): 380
- Hot buttered rum (8 oz): 292
- Spiced cider with rum ( 8 oz):150
- Mulled wine (5 oz): 200
- Vodka and tonic (8 oz): 200
- Screwdriver (8 oz): 190
- Mimosa (4 oz): 75
- Gin and tonic (7 oz): 200
- Long Island iced tea (8 oz): 780
- White Russian (2 oz vodka, 1.5 oz coffee liqueur, 1.5 oz cream): 425
- Mai Tai (6 oz) (1.5 oz rum, 1/2 oz cream de along, 1/2 oz triple sec, sour mix, pineapple juice): 350
- Rum and Coke (8 oz): 185
- Rum and Diet Coke (8 oz): 100
- Mike’s Hard Lemonade (11 oz): 98
- Mud Slide (6 oz)(1.5 oz Vodka, 1.5 oz Kahlua, 1.5 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream, 1.5 oz half-and-half): 556
- Jager Bomb (6 oz) (1.2 can Red Bull, 2 oz Jagermeister): 200
Article by: Lori Bednarchik, MPH, CHES
The following are helpful resources to check out:
- Alcohol Calorie Calculator
- WebMD “Low Calorie Cocktails”
- Medicinal Food News: Low Calorie Alcoholic Beverages
- “Fitness” Magazine: Low Calorie Drink Recipes
- “Good Housekeeping” Magazine: How Many Calories Are in Alcohol?
- “Best Mocktail Recipes”