Drinking Calories

October 13, 2011

Experts often advise people who are trying to loss weight, “Don’t Drink Your Calories.” But that adage doesn’t consider people like me who would occasionally prefer to drink instead of eating.

But before I challenge the experts, let me address the overall truth to their advice. Yes, if you finish off a 600 calorie meal with a 200 calorie beverage, you’re not helping yourself as much as you might think. Also, there’s a good chance people who need to lose weight aren’t properly evaluating the calories they are intaking, including those in their drinks. I’m reminded of my freshman year in college: with an all-you-can-eat meal plan in my possession, I drank Coke with every meal for three months until I realized I wasn’t even tasting it anymore. Considering the number of calories in your beverages is a good idea for everybody, but especially people trying to diet (which is a word I don’t use).

But what about those of us who enjoy the occasional adult beverage? Can a dieting person enjoy a glass of beer or wine?

Of course. As long as that beer or wine doesn’t follow a 1000 calorie meal. And frankly, there are times, like when I went from work directly to the Incubus concert the other night, where I’m not eating any food at all. Which means my 2 or 3 beers was significantly fewer calories than the fastfood dinner that millions of other Americans ate that same night.

But of course there are drawbacks to what one might call an alcoholic’s diet. For one, 600-800 calories of alcohol is going to keep you from driving home safely. Which goes hand-in-hand with the basic truth that drunk people don’t usually eat healthy food. But if you can avoid those cheese fries at the bar and the Taco Bell on the way home, then really no harm no foul.

However, you should definitely consider the type of alcohol you’re drinking. Sweet cocktails are sweet for a reason. Take a look at the label of your favorite mixer next time you’re at the liquor store: those ingredients are virtually identical to the those in the soda that you’re trying to avoid. There’s really no point to drinking Diet Coke at lunch if you’re going to have 3 appletinis after work. Or as I recently explained to a friend, if you’re taking salsa lessons for the exercise (approximately 300-400 calories burned), then don’t shoot yourself in the foot by drinking 2 margaritas at the bar afterwards (500 calories each).

With that in mind, consider the calorie load of the following beverages:

  • 6 oz. Rum and Diet Coke – 65 Calories (1 oz. Rum, 5 oz. Diet Coke)
  • 6 oz. Vodka and Soda – 65 Calories (1 oz. Vodka, 5 oz. Soda Water)
  • 10 oz. Bloody Mary – 180 Calories (2 oz. Vodka,8 oz. tomato juice, Dash of Tabasco and pepper)
  • 7.5 oz. Gin & Diet Tonic – 115 Calories (1.5 oz. Gin, 6 oz. Diet Tonic)
  • 12 oz. Guinness Draught – 126 Calories
  • 12 oz. Bud Light – 110 Calories
  • 4 oz. Cabernet Sauvignon – 90 Calories
  • 4 oz. Chardonnay – 90 Calories
  • 4 oz Dry Champagne – 105 Calories


Not a bad meal, if you asked me.