Coming home after a long, stressful day of work and pouring a drink is a very typical habit in our society. It helps us relax and makes us feel good. There is nothing wrong with this, but when one drink becomes 4 or 5, we may be impacted more than we think—especially in terms of weight and life-long health. In order to find balance, it’s important to imbibe in alcohol moderation.
Alcohol Moderation Recommendations
It is recommended that females stick to one drink per day, and males two per day. The guidelines are fairly vague, as a martini has a significantly higher alcohol content when compared to a highball—yet both appear to be one drink. To have a better understanding of what one drink looks like, consider the graphic below. If your drink of choice is beer, there are two different serving sizes: 12 oz. of regular/light beer or 8-9 oz. of dark/craft beer. For wine, a standard serving size is 5 oz. A serving of distilled liquor measures in at 1.5 oz. A typical highball is made with the 1.5 oz serving, while martinis are typically made with 3 oz. Each of these beverages are different in their alcohol content, thus different in volume per serving.
Each of these serving sizes contain roughly 14 grams of alcohol. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, so it may be estimated that one drink contains 98 calories. When considering the calories coming from a drink, there is almost always additional calories from other sugars that are in the drink. There may be 98 calories in 1.5 oz. of distilled spirit but mixing it with 8 oz. of Sprite will significantly increase the calories and sugar of one standard drink.
Choosing the best drink for you
Aside from the sugar and calories that come naturally with wine or from sodas and other mixers, spirits and beer can vary greatly as well. Listed below are typical drinks and their overall calorie content (not just calories from alcohol).
- Beer (1 can/bottle)
- Light: 103 calories
- Regular: 154 calories
- Craft/higher alcohol: 170-180 calories
- Distilled liquor (1.5 oz.)
- 80 proof: 97 calories
- 94 proof: 116 calories
- Wine (5 oz.)
- Red: 121-125 calories
- White: 128 calories
- Dessert wine: 157-165 calories
- Mixed drinks (varying sizes)
- Vodka seltzer (10 oz.): 132 calories
- Vodka tonic (7 oz.): 189 calories
- Margarita (4 oz.): 168 calories
- White Russian (8 oz.): 568 calories
- Pina colada (6.8 oz.): 526 calories
When selecting your drink of choice, be aware of additional calories from flavors and mixers. Above, you can see that drinks such as a white Russian are significantly higher in calories than a vodka seltzer. Keep in mind that tonic water does contain sugar and additional calories; this is something that is often forgotten. If you’re not a fan of seltzer and prefer soda or juice, try mixing in half seltzer or half water. This keeps the flavor there, but lessens the calorie load. Eventually you might move to only adding a splash of juice or soda. Choosing a drink that satisfies your goals for health and happiness is key!
If you’re still unsure what constitutes alcohol moderation, schedule a FREE nutrition consultation with Elite’s Registered Dietitian, Sarah Brunner! She’ll recommend a plan so you can achieve your dietary goals.Schedule a Nutrition Consultation
Written by Whitney Ament, Nutrition Intern at Elite Sports Clubs