Alcohol consumption inspires a variety of dietary questions: How many calories in a pint of lager? Does red wine have more calories than white? Let's weigh in on how alcohol affects weight loss.
Alcohol is a source of 'empty calories', meaning it has no nutritive value other than providing energy. Although most alcoholic drinks contain sugars and traces of vitamins and minerals, it's not usually in amounts that make any significant contribution to the diet.
People who are overweight actually gain weight more easily when they drink alcohol and calories from alcohol tend to be stored in the gut. If you want six-pack abs, you'll need to cut down on the booze.
So what's the damage?
Although alcohol itself doesn't contain fat, it is packed with calories. And when you add in mixers - juice, sugar and other ingredients - the calories really can add up.
Beer: Non-alcoholic beer actually has the same calories as alcoholic beer: 148 calories in a pint. If you drink a light beer - like Bud Light - you'll only take in around 99 calories per pint.
Wine: Dry wine contains fewer calories than sweeter wine. For example, a glass of dry wine has about 106 calories and a glass of sweet dessert wine has a whopping 226 calories. If you drink a glass of wine before dinner, another glass with dinner and a sweet wine for dessert, you've added more than 400 calories to your meal.
Champagne: Champagne contains the same amount of calories as other dry wines, 106 calories per glass.
Spirits: The calories in gin, rum, vodka or whiskey depends on the proof, which is twice the percentage of alcohol. For example, 90 proof vodka contains 45 per cent alcohol; 100 proof contains 50 per cent alcohol. And it's easy to guess which has more calories: the higher the proof, the higher the calories.
The calorie content of other types of liquor varies greatly. Watch the really sweet stuff, though. A serving of schnapps has 108 calories, and crème de menthe will set you back 186 calories.
Mixed drinks: Obviously, the larger the drink the higher the calorie content. If your favourite watering hole serves pond-sized margaritas, you can easily drink more than 400 calories (without the crisps and guacamole).
Choose a smaller cocktail like a Cosmopolitan and you'll only take in about a third of the calories. In a common serving size, here's how many calories your favourite drink contains:
Bloody Mary: 115 calories (the celery adds less than five calories)
Gin and tonic: 171 calories
Pina colada: 262 calories
Whiskey sour: 122 calories