Low Calorie Alcoholic Drinks

~ August 2002 No.151 ~

It is the summer. It is hot. At most social events the offer of a cold drink is often the first task of the host.

I’ve got to cut back on the calories. Have you got anything that’s low in calories?” This is a common request that more and more party hosts are receiving these days. People want to be sociable and have a glass in their hand as they meet other interesting people, but at the same time they are counting their calories more and more. Calories do count.

Alcohol, like all things we consume (except water), contains calories. So when dieters are keeping track of their caloric intake, they can’t forget alcoholic beverages. For most drinks, it is the alcohol that contributes to the total calorie content. So a comparison between drinks is easy; the higher the alcohol content, the higher the calorie count. The alcohol content of a beverage can calculated from its percentage alcohol content by volume (% ABV), which is marked on the bottle or container. Beer can have an alcohol content ranging from 0.05 -10%, wine usually is 5-13%, while liquors and liqueurs can be 14-40% alcohol. For drinks such as liqueurs that have lots of sugar in them, it is a combination of the alcohol and the sugar that bumps up their calorie count.

So what to offer? For the beer drinkers there is the choice of lite beer. By making that switch, a party goer can save about 40 calories per bottle. But what about drinks that contain "hard liquor"? Many people think gin is lowest in calories, but it just isn't so. Gin and tonic may have been the drink of choice for colonials, but that was to fight off malaria. Ounce per ounce gin has just as many calories as rum, whisky or tequila providing they all have the same alcohol content.

Amount of calories in alcoholic drinks
calories in per ounce per 100 g
Beer 12 41
Light beer 8 28
Gin, rum, vodka, whisky, tequila 64 231
Brandy, cognac 50 175
Crème de menthe 124 371
Coffee liqueur 117 336
Source: Calorie content of foods and beverages
Food and Nutrition Information Center

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