Diet-Friendly Alcohol Choices

Choose Wisely to Stay On Track

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 knoww, 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.
  
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 per ounce:

Wine

Calories

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, based on one ounce:

Hard   Liquor

Calories

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

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, based on a single ounce:

Beer

Calories

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, per one-ounce serving:

Liqueur

Calories

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.