Calories in alcoholic drinks add up fast

Managing your daily caloric intake includes counting calories from all food and beverages, including alcoholic drinks. Ounce per ounce the calories from beer, wine and cocktails can add up quickly and sabotage your daily food plan.

Knowing your caloric needs and striving to stay under your maximum number of calories each day is one way to manage your weight. Often beverages are not fully considered when tallying your total calories from meals and snacks, yet the calories found in beverages can be significant. Michigan State University Extension encourages everyone to track the number of calories in beverages they consume each day, including alcoholic drinks, to gauge if you are at or over your caloric limit for your body.

Alcoholic drinks are considered empty calories, as they contain only trace amount of vitamins and minerals. Though void of much nutrition, they do contain calories – and in some cases significant calories. Drinking in moderation is the key recommendation. Think about the overall nutrient value of the food and beverages you consume each day. Empty calories do not provide the necessary nutrients your body needs to function well and should be limited.

Binge drinking defined for women is drinking four or more drinks in two hours, and men consuming five or more drinks in two hours. This not only results in a significant number of calories being consumed, but could also cause other potential health concerns.

Compare average calories in beer, wine, distilled spirits and cocktails in the following chart.

Beer (regular) – 12 ounces

150 calories

Wine – 5 ounces

100 calories

Whiskey – 1.5 ounces

105 calories

Brandy – 1.5 ounces

 98 calories

Margarita – 4 ounce

270 calories

Mai tai – 4 ounces

310 calories

When you consider that the total number of calories consumed in two or more cocktails can be equal or greater than the calories eaten at a typical meal, one should carefully evaluate the impact of over consumption. Drinking a lite alcoholic beverage reduces the calories but does not eliminate them. Being aware of your total calories is an effective tool in monitoring weight.

In the U.S. 50 percent of adults report they consume alcohol on a regular basis – this makes calorie awareness an important consideration. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that if alcohol is consumed, women should only have one drink per day, and men should only consume two drinks per day. Again be mindful of what alcoholic beverage you select and the calories you consume to stay within your daily caloric needs, and your efforts to maintain a healthy weight.

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