After a long day, it can be nice to enjoy a drink of bourbon, either neat or on the rocks. However, when you're trying to watch your weight, it's vital to take the calories in that nightcap into account.
According to the USDA, a shot of 80-proof whiskey or bourbon (equivalent to 1.5 ounces) has 97 calories. Other proof levels may have different calorie counts.
Number of Calories in Bourbon
One shot of 80-proof bourbon, which is equal to 1.5 ounces, has 97 calories, according to USDA's FoodData Central. Keep in mind, however, that there are other proof levels available to buy, and the higher number means a higher calorie content. For example, one shot of 100-proof bourbon has 124 calories, reports the USDA.
If you're the type to mix bourbon with another beverage, such as cola or ginger ale, take into consideration the number of calories in that mixer, too. The calories in gin and other types of distilled spirits are the same as the calories in bourbon and other types of whiskey, as long as there aren't any calorie-containing additions to the bottle.
If you're focused more on carbohydrates than calories, rest assured — there are no carbohydrates in bourbon, just like there are no carbohydrates in other non-flavored spirits. However, that shouldn't be taken as a license to throw back glass after glass of bourbon, as the calories still count when it comes to weight management, even if your main focus is on cutting back on carbohydrates.
Drinking in Moderation
Drinking alcohol can be part of an otherwise healthy diet, as long as it's done in moderation. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020, updated and released approximately every five years by the federal government's Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, defines "moderate" drinking as up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
More specifically, one drink refers to 1.5 ounces, or one shot, of distilled 80-proof spirits, such as bourbon. However, don't think you can mix-and-match spirits, wine and beer without thought — a 12-ounce beer or 5-ounce glass of wine also counts as one drink.
Read more: 5 Hidden Health Benefits of Alcohol
Pros and Cons of Bourbon
While the Dietary Guidelines do not recommended drinking, alcohol such as bourbon might have some potential health benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, moderate alcohol consumption might reduce the risk of developing heart disease or diabetes, as well as reduce the risk of ischemic stroke, which occurs when the arteries to your brain narrow or become blocked, reducing necessary blood flow.
However, the Mayo Clinic also notes that even light drinkers have an increased risk of certain cancers, including esophageal cancer. Additionally, heavy drinking — consuming more than seven drinks a week for all women or men over the age of 65 or 14 drinks a week for men aged 65 or younger — carries heavy risks, including a higher potential for cancers such as breast and liver cancer, pancreatitis, heart muscle damage, high blood pressure and liver disease.
Read more: How Bad is Alcohol for Weight Loss?