Whether you're mixing up a gin and tonic or a Tom Collins, it's important to keep in mind the calories in gin so you don't derail your diet. Although a shot of gin is fairly low in calories, the added mixers are often full of sugar. Get the scoop on delicious low-calorie gin cocktails!
At just 97 calories per shot, gin is considered one of the lowest-calorie alcohol options. Mixers, on the other hand, can be high in calories and sugar.
How Many Calories in Gin?
Gin is an alcoholic beverage that gets its distinctive flavor from juniper berries, making it a popular choice for cocktails. It's often mixed with tonic water or enjoyed as a gin martini garnished with olives.
According to the USDA, one shot of gin has 97 calories. The calories in gin don't provide any nutritional value, though. It's easy to overlook them, but they do add to your energy intake for the day and may cause you to gain weight in the long run.
The calories in liquor are only part of the equation. Although gin doesn't contain any sugar, many of the mixers are full of sugars and other artificial ingredients that increase the calorie count.
A gin and tonic cocktail is a popular choice among gin drinkers. The calories in tonic water can vary according to the brand, so check the nutrition labels for the exact number. Schweppes Tonic Water, for example, has 130 calories in one serving size, which is 12 ounces. Tonic water contains mineral water, sweetener (in this case high fructose corn syrup), citric acid, preservatives and quinine.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, high doses of quinine are typically used to treat malaria, while small doses are used in beverages to give them a distinctive bitter flavor. Contrary to popular belief, this compound won't prevent muscle cramps, but it does make a tasty mixer for gin.
A cocktail with 12 ounces of Schweppes tonic water and one shot of gin will have 227 calories. If you're trying to reduce your energy intake, look for diet tonic water with non-caloric sweeteners. A gin and tonic cocktail with one shot of gin and diet tonic water will have only 97 calories — that's quite a difference in the total calorie count.
Here are some popular gin cocktails and their calorie counts:
Lowest-Calorie Alcohol Options
You may be surprised to find out that gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, tequila, brandy and cognac all have 97 calories in one shot (1.5 ounces).
A 12-ounce bottle of beer has around 155 calories, but most brands vary greatly in terms of calorie count, so check the label. Some light beers provide around 100 calories per bottle, while India Pale Ale beers can have up to 240 calories per bottle.
Read more: How Bad Is Alcohol for Weight Loss?
A 6-ounce glass of red wine has 153 calories, while the same quantity of white wine has 148 calories. Red wine does have additional health benefits compared to hard alcohol like gin because it contains polyphenols, notes Harvard Health Publishing.
The calories in liquor are fairly low compared to those in beer and wine, but it's important to look for light mixers to keep the calories in check. Most stores and pubs offer diet-friendly options for mixers.
Is Gin Healthy?
Staying healthy involves more than just drinking the lowest-calorie alcohol. You also need to consider how much you drink.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that alcohol should always be consumed in moderation. The recommended amount is no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks for men. Heavy drinking may lead to an increase in the risk of heart and liver disease, cancer, mental problems and other ailments.
A June 2018 cohort study published in PLOS Medicine has found that older adults who drank one to three alcoholic beverages per week had lower mortality rates than heavy drinks and those who didn't consume alcohol at all. Intakes below one drink per day were the most beneficial. Again, moderation is the key.
To keep your health in check, watch your alcohol intake and look for low-calorie gin cocktails that won't derail your diet. Our RJ Maroon gin cocktail, for example, is delicious and uses strawberries instead of sugar for sweetness, whereas our Fresh Start gin cocktail is made with nutritious vegetable juices and antioxidant-rich ginger juice, so try them out.
- USDA FoodData Central: "Gin"
- Schweppes: "Regular Tonic Water"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Will Tonic Water Prevent Nighttime Leg Cramps?"
- Schweppes: "Diet Tonic Water"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Martini"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Tom Collins"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Gin Fizz"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Gin Rickey"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Gin Gimlet"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Beer"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Wine, Table, Red"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Wine, Table, White"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Is Wine Fine, or Beer Better?"
- Health.gov: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020: Appendix 9. Alcohol"
- PLOS Medicine: "The Association of Lifetime Alcohol Use With Mortality and Cancer Risk in Older Adults: A Cohort Study"