Which Alcoholic Beverages Are Lowest in Calories?

Since alcohol is largely a fermented drink of starches and sugars, its nutritional benefit is relatively minimal -- alcohol doesn't contain vitamins or minerals that can offset the caloric intake. However, alcohol also has mild anesthetic or tranquilizing properties that can make it attractive at the end of a long day. Finding a low-calorie alcoholic beverage provides you the opportunity to indulge without sending your diet off the rails.

Which Alcoholic Beverages Are Lowest in Calories? (Image: Digital Vision/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Light Beer

Light beer has relatively few calories. (Image: Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Light beer has relatively few calories. Some brands offer a light beer alternative that contains fewer than 100 calories per 12-oz. serving, others range at a higher amount, between 120 and 130 calories in a 12-oz. serving. This can make it attractive as a low-calorie choice. However, light beer is also lighter in alcohol content, about 3 percent. Regular beer has between 3 to 8 percent alcohol.


A 5-oz. serving of wine provides about 150 calories. (Image: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

A 5-oz. serving of wine provides about 150 calories. White wine is about 12 percent alcohol and red wine is about 14 percent alcohol. To make white wine even lower in calories, dilute it with sparkling water. The resulting white wine spritzer not only has fewer calories, but also has a lower alcohol content. Avoid using sparkling water with added flavors as it can unpleasantly affect the flavor of the wine.

Straight Shot

A 1.5-oz. shot of liquor has about 150 calories. (Image: Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

A 1.5-oz. shot of liquor has about 150 calories, but packs a powerful punch. Most distilled alcohol is more potent than light beer or wine. When mixed with fruit juice, sugary drink mixes or soda, your drink becomes much more caloric. Distilled beverages, such as vodka, gin and rum, are labeled by proof, which is the alcohol content, doubled. For example, a 40 proof bottle of distilled liquor is 20 percent alcohol. The higher the proof, the more potent the liquor.

Sugar-Free Mixed Drink

When you consume a drink, your body burns the alcohol off first, prior to any fats, carbohydrate or protein. Although some products claim to be low-carb alternatives, suggesting they are also low in calories, alcohol in straight form doesn't contain carbohydrates. The calories are derived from the alcohol content. If you use sugar-free mixers, then the cocktail will be lower in calories than a regular mix option.

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