6 Guilt-Free Ways to Booze Without the Beer Gut
The Hard Truth About Hard Liquor
That said, the calorie counts soon to be listed on some vodka, rum, and other spirit bottles may be deceiving. A standard 1.5-ounce shot of hard liquor provides about 100 calories and 0 grams carbohydrates, which sounds like a bargain, but those numbers only apply if you drink spirits neat or on the rocks. When liquor is blended with sugary liqueurs, soda, or syrups to create mixed drinks, the stats can skyrocket; a single cocktail can deliver more calories than a king-sized candy bar and a comparable sugar rush. In general, drier drinks like Manhattans and martinis provide around 200 calories, while sweeter concoctions like margaritas, pina coladas, and mai tais are in the 300 to 400+ calorie range (of course, serving size matters). For a lighter cocktail, blend a shot of your favorite liquor with club soda and a splash of fruit juice (about 125 calories).
Nutrition facts aren't expected on wine labels any time soon, but it's easier to account for these calories because, compared to mixed drinks, there's far less variation from glass to glass. A 5-ounce pour of red, white, or sparkling wine has about 120 calories. Ports and sweet dessert wines are higher in calories, but servings tend be smaller.
Craft Beers Come With a Cost
Beer is a different story.
The number of calories in a 12-ounce bottle can vary wildly, from as low as 65 calories for some ultra-light, low-carb beers to more than 350 calories for a heavy, sweet imperial stout. In general, as the percent of alcohol by volume (ABV) rises, so does the calorie count (the carbohydrate content, driven by the amount of residual sugar in the brew, also has an impact).
Standard American lagers such as Budweiser, Coors, and Miller, which are around 5 percent ABV, have about 150 calories per bottle. Their light counterparts drop to around 100 calories, with the savings primarily due to fewer carbs rather than a lower alcohol content. However, the craft brew industry boom has dramatically increased beer drinkers' options, and as with their flavor profiles, the calorie counts for these independent brews are all over the map. Many popular IPAs boast alcohol percentages in the 6 percent to 8 percent range, which translates to around 180 to 270 calories per bottle, or, if you're ordering off tap, 240 to 320 calories per pint. In other words, your beverage calories can get out of hand really quickly. (Despite the calorie counts, .)
The Calorie-Conscious Way to Enjoy Alcohol
If you're a craft beer fan, here are some ways to enjoy a few rounds without taking in more calories than you intended:
- Pay attention to the percent of ABV(typically listed on the bottle or bar menu) when making your selections.
- Opt for lighter beerslike wheats, Kolsches, pilsners, summer ales, and Belgian whites. Limit barleywines, Belgian tripels, and anything "imperial" — if you go this route, you're best off sticking to one drink.
- Order half-pints or tasting portionsso you can sample a variety of beers without overindulging.
Whatever your libation of choice, follow these tips to sip smarter:
- Drink in moderation, and preferably with food, not on an empty stomach.Eating will help to slow the absorption of alcohol into your system and make your drink last longer.
- Enjoy your drink alongside a glass of water.Restaurants almost always serve both, but you may not think to pour yourself a glass of water at home. Taking periodic sips of water can help you pace your drinking and stay hydrated.
- Keep track of your drink count.When you top off your wine glass or pour beer from a pitcher, it's difficult to monitor your intake. Finish one drink completely before deciding to have another.
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