It’s a well known fact that routine or excess alcohol consumption can lead to weight gain. But if you are going to choose the odd bevvy during the holiday season, is there one choice that is better than another? It’s a bit challenging to find this information, as nutritional information is not laid out on the labels of most alcoholic products, and can even be hard to find on the internet.

There are two elements to consider regarding the drink itself, those being a) the type of alcohol, and b) the mix.

As far as the caloric content of the alcohol goes:

  • 1 can or bottle of beer (360 mL): 140 cal
  • 1 can/bottle of light beer (360 mL): 100 cal
  • 1 can/bottle of non alcoholic beer (360 mL) 50-75 cal
  • 1 glass of wine (5 oz): 105 cal
  • 1 glass of dessert wine (50z): 235 cal
  • 1 glass of non alcoholic wine (5oz) 10 cal
  • 1 cooler (360 mL): 310 cal
  • 1 light cooler (360 mL): 210 cal
  • 1.5 oz hard liquor: 100 cal
  • 1.5 oz liquer/cordial: 175 cal

As for the mixes, your best bet is a diet pop or club soda, which are calorie free. Others:

  • regular pop (8 oz): 85-120 cal
  • tonic water (8 oz): 85 cal
  • orange juice (8 oz): 110 cal
  • cranberry juice (8 oz): 110 cal
  • tomato juice (8 oz): 40 cal

One hundred extra calories per day results in a 10 lb weight gain in one year, so you can see that the above numbers can add up quickly. One rum and coke per day is 20 pounds on the bathroom scale over that year!

On top of that, alcohol decreases our inhibitions, which can often lead to overindulging on food simultaneously. Even worse, alcohol inhibits the ability of our livers to produce glucose, resulting in increased hunger and food consumption in an effort to maintain blood sugar levels.

The bottom line is that alcohol consumption should be in moderation for many reasons – only one of which is the additional calories. Note that if you choose to enjoy a small amount of alcohol, the daily intake should be limited to maximum 1 drink for women, and 2 drinks for men. For more information about the potential hazards of alcohol consumption, and to find out if a moderate intake is safe for you, speak to your doctor.

Dr. Sue © 2009