Nutrition Articles

Your Party Guide to Diet-Friendly Drinks

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A 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, sometimes in the form of an alcoholic drink. While alcohol is fat-free and low in carbs, it's the calories that count when it comes to weight management. In general, alcohol and dieting don’t mix well—your body processes alcohol first, leaving carbohydrates and fats to get stored as fat instead of getting used as fuel.

Even if you're careful about your alcohol consumption, all drinks are not created equal on the dieting scale and some choices are better than others. Here's a short guide to the calorie contents of different types of alcohol. Use it as a quick resource to find low-calorie alcohol choices while sticking to your dietary goals.


 
 

Wine: The Most Diet-Friendly Choice


If you’re going to drink, wine is the most calorie-friendly selection with a typical 20 calories per ounce. Each five-ounce glass would then be 100 calories with no cholesterol, sodium or fat. This is true for both red and white wine, from merlot to chardonnay. Sherry, a sweet, fortified wine, runs a bit higher with 32 calories per ounce, but is usually served in smaller portions as an after-dinner drink. 

Here is the nutritional information for some popular wines:
 
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: Easy on Your Diet


Hard liquor is higher in calories per ounce than wine and is often mixed with soda, which increases the calorie count. If you’re going to drink liquor, use calorie-free mixers like diet soda or diet tonic water. One shot glass or mixed drink will contain about 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.

Here is the nutritional information for some favorites:
 
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

Once you start mixing liquor with juice and other sweeteners to create cocktails, both calories and carbs can go up significantly. 

Here is the nutritional information for some favorites:
 
Cocktail Calories Per Ounce Carbs Per  Ounce       Per Typical Serving
Martini 61 .1 135 calories/
2.2 oz
Cosmopolitan 53 3.3 213 calories/
4 oz
Mojito 40 4 240 calories/
6 oz
Margarita 46 2.1 153 calories/
3.3 oz
Manhattan 39 1.1 130 calories/
3.3 oz
Whiskey Sour 46 3.9 162 calories/
3.5 oz
Daiquiri 56 2.1 224 calories/
4 oz
Piña Colada 55 7.1 245 calories/
4.5 oz


Beer: Raise Your Glass with Care


Beer is the next best choice for dieters, with about 150 calories per 12-ounce serving. Choosing light beers will drop your caloric intake without sacrificing much flavor, but keep in mind that it can be hard to estimate your intake when pouring from a pitcher or into an oversized beer mug.

Here is the nutritional information for different types of beer:
 
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: Small but Potent


The words "cordial" and "liqueur" are sometimes used interchangeably, as both drinks are flavored, very sweet and often served as (or with) dessert. Liqueurs can be served alone, over ice, with coffee or mixed with cream or other mixers. Adding mixers will increase the calorie and fat content of your drink. Whether served alone or in a cocktail, one liqueur serving is about 1.5 ounces. While tasty, liqueurs pack the most calories per ounce, so enjoy them sparingly.

Here is the nutritional information for common liqueurs:
 
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

If you budget your calories carefully, you can safely afford to have a drink or two on a special occasion. But beware: Drinking loosens your inhibitions and may make you eat without thinking. From a health standpoint, calories aren't the only thing to consider. Practice moderation (no more than one drink daily for women and no more than two drinks daily for men) and consider other potential health benefits of different types of alcohol.

Most health experts recommend the following hierarchy when choosing alcohol based on potential health benefits (such as antioxidant content): 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.

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Member Comments

  • This article is very helpful. I mix vodka with 50 calorie cranberry juice, and white rum with diet V8 tropical blend juice depending on my mood. Otherwise it's red wine for me ??.
  • BROADCASTINGBRI
    This sites awesome! Has anybody checked out www.LowestCalorie
    Alcohol.com they have great stuff too!
  • MUSICNUT
    Thanks for an informative article!
  • all in moderation
  • This is a great article to read if you're having a party and you went low calorie drinks! Great ideas!
  • Mocktails are good also. I have even considered starting a Sparkteam about such.
  • Not really my thing.
  • I have found that flavored vodka with club soda and fruit is a great way to go. Raspberry vodka w lime, blood orange with orange... Whatever floats your boat. Just keep an eye out for vodkas that add sugar with the flavor. I can't have fake sugar so diet soda isn't an option, but flavored sparkling water works great (beware of fake sugars)

    One problem with this article is the term "draft beer". Draft beer comes from the lightest of beers to double fermented IPA, to some thick stouts. None of these are even close to equal. Many individual Brewers provide nutrition info.
  • I have noticed in past blogs that this info is helpful to a good many people on SPARK, so I am glad it is here and available. For me -- not the info I am looking for.
  • i did stop drinking beer although i love it

    http://fitnessi
    sfunny.blogsp
    ot.com/
  • I find that the real problem with drinking alcohol and dieting is that drinking loosens the boundaries. It is harder for me to control myself and not to eat foods that I don't want to eat when I diet.
  • I carry crystal light lemonade flavor and sugar free key lime juice in my purse when we go to happy hour Friday. I order tequila in a margarita glass with rocks, salt and lime. I add my own very low calorie mixer to make a low cal margarita. It tastes just as good to me. But, it is true that it does make me crave chocolate after I drink it. I have made it a point to only have one drink a week.
  • ETHELMERZ
    I sent this article to others, concise info. Personally, I dislike the taste of alcoholic drinks, so no problem trying to fake it.
  • CEVIZAGACE
    If I drink any alcohol, it's not the calories those one or two glasses of wine that bother me, but that they lower my resistance to eat too much.

About The Author

Leanne Beattie Leanne Beattie
A freelance writer, marketing consultant and life coach, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. See all of Leanne's articles.

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