When we’re out having a good time, it’s easy to forget that drinking alcohol means consuming a lot of empty calories. Some cocktails can have as many calories as a snack or small meal! Below are some calorie estimates for common alcoholic beverages. Please be aware that calorie counts do depend on the specific type/brand of alcohol: (1)
- 12 oz Beer: 150 calories
- 1.5 oz vodka: 100 calories (not including mixers like soda, juice, or margarita mix)
- 4 oz wine: 90 calories
In addition to the calorie counts, the BU Sargent Choice Nutrition Center also points out that excessive drinking can prevent the body from absorbing nutrients. Not only that, but drinking alcohol can also increase the excretion of nutrients (especially zinc and calcium) through the urine.
Let’s do a little math.
If you have 5 beers every Friday and Saturday night, you are consuming:
- 750 calories per night
- 1,500 calories per weekend
- 6,000 calories per month
- 54,000 calories over an academic year
Want to know your personal calorie intake from alcohol? Check out this alcohol calorie calculator.
So how much weight gain could these extra calories cause? Well, about 3,500 calories consumed is equal to one pound of weight gain (2). If you aren’t active enough to burn the excess calories you’re drinking, you would gain:
- Almost 2 pounds a month
- 15 pounds over an academic year
And that doesn’t even include late night pizza.
To cut down on calories from alcohol, try going out only one night per week and having one less drink. If you’re pouring or mixing a drink yourself, measure standard drink portions to avoid extra calories. You can also alternate drinks with water to reduce your overall alcohol (and calorie) consumption.
SPREAD THE HEALTH: To avoid excessive drinking and empty calories, reduce the number of nights you go out, measure standard drinks, have one less, and alternate alcoholic beverages with water.