Nutrition Articles

Diet-Friendly Alcohol Choices

Choose Wisely to Stay On Track

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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, oftentimes in the form of an alcoholic drink. 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. As you know, 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 are 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 so you can make the best alcohol choices while sticking to your dietary goals.

The Most Diet-Friendly Drink Choices
 

 
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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 5-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 it 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
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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.

Member Comments

  • RKTHETEXGAL
    Hey dont forget a 'skinny girl' margarita...its 100calories and 4 g of carbs per 4 oz serving. This is per spark peoples nutrition tracker. Love these!
    :) - 3/14/2014 6:41:30 PM
  • I personally couldn't drink diet pop and alcohol . Recently I am not so sure alcohol is OK from a Biblical perspective. - 3/13/2014 9:00:30 PM
  • Here's something I have never understood and would appreciate an expert opinion: If a drink like vodka has no carbs, what does that mean if you are a diabetic and not worried so much about the calories? - 1/31/2014 6:47:10 AM
  • SUZEEFM
    The calories for wine on here are less than I'd read somewhere previously. Thanks! - 1/30/2014 1:53:39 PM
  • I am printing this blog out and keeping it forever. Thank You - 1/30/2014 9:05:50 AM
  • I'm printing the chart out and putting it in my purse. It'll be nice to have when I go out to celebrate my birthday tomorrow night. Perfect timing! Thanks :) - 1/30/2014 7:33:27 AM
  • The carb content in an alcoholic drink is for ingredients that are not alcohol per se. Like in the wine chart, you'll notice that the white wines have zero carbs: no grape skins, but the red wines have some carbs: food value from the grape skin content.
    - 12/7/2013 5:03:14 PM
  • Here's a question I have always had...how can hard liquor, an alcohol, be '0' carbs? I never understood this when a friend, who is carb counting but not calorie counting, tells me that liquor is ok for him. What's the science on this? - 12/6/2013 6:49:41 AM
  • This article contradicts itself. It first lists a Manhattan as 153 calories per 3.3 ounces, then in another chart it lists a Manhattan as 130 calories per 3.3 ounces. Check your facts and edit your articles Sparkpeople! - 12/5/2013 10:44:56 AM
  • Great article, but I have to wonder about some of the "typical servings." For example, I have never been served a 3.3 oz margarita. - 12/5/2013 8:05:32 AM
  • Frankly, having a glass of wine with dinner is a pleasure I greatly enjoy, but have found that it can sabotage my "best laid plans." I may have only one glass of wine, but the wine seems to perk up my appetite and let down my inhibitions, and before you know it, I have eaten more than I planned! - 10/1/2013 6:31:46 PM
  • MARILYNK426
    You forgot to include gluten free beer. Many of us are having to live by this diet and I have found this beer to be much more diet friendly. While researching this, I have found hard cider to be very high in sugar content. - 6/13/2013 3:04:59 PM
  • I made a great choice for a diet/alcohol drink. Please understand...I would NEVER suggest that others follow my lead...enjoy life..have a drink..have fun! BUT..for the last 8 years I have chosen non alcholic beverages and diet soda.Now this is just me...I enjoy my life and everything much better..I get enjoyment vicariously when my friends drink..and when I'm around everyone has a designated driver! CHEERS! Scott. - 6/13/2013 4:11:54 AM
  • MATTIOI
    I really like rum and diet coke as a healthy drink for my nights out. I thought this site was pretty neat for keeping me in the know about the booze calories I am putting in my body: http://calories-i
    n-alcohol.com/ - 4/16/2013 10:45:21 AM
  • Not such a good idea to mix diet soda with alcohol. See the following article regarding research being done by a psychology professor where I work (Dr. Cecile Marczinski at Northern Kentucky University).

    http://abcnews.
    go.com/Health
    /diet-soda-po
    tent-alcohol-
    mixer/story?id=18411329 - 3/16/2013 9:20:47 PM

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