Nutrition Articles

Diet-Friendly Alcohol Choices

Choose Wisely to Stay On Track

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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
Sometimes the words "cordial" and "liqueur" are used interchangeably since 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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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

  • Love this. Really good info to keep in mind.
    I'm a big sweet cocktail girl, can't stand straight liquor and dry wine.
    But I know I'll have to say good-bye to my margaritas, except for maybe twice a month.
    Oh well, feeling amazing in my wedding dress will be worth it!!! - 3/5/2015 1:01:40 PM
  • MARY1291
    Great information . Lots of information in a condensed form. Thank you - 2/7/2015 9:32:35 AM
  • Same as LULUGIRL.... - 1/16/2015 3:27:40 PM
  • KALAMAZOO8
    I ditto 9catman9, - 1/16/2015 11:52:18 AM
  • Many years ago I started drinking just the alcohol with soda water and a lime. You have to actually like the alcohol to drink it this way. I like whiskey or gin. It has been forever since I drank rum. I would recommend not using the pre mixed mixers. Try muddling your own lime with home made simple syrup. It not only tastes better, you have far more control over your calories. I personally hate the sweetness that comes with most of the drinks. My one big vice is a bloody Mary. But in reality if the mixer is house made it has almost no added sugar! - 1/8/2015 12:00:50 PM
  • 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

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