Beer, wine and liquor: Are they making you fat?

Alcohol consumption inspires a variety of dietary questions. How many calories in a bottle of beer? Does red wine have more calories than white wine? And you don't even want to know the amount of calories in eggnog.

Alcohol and body weight

The calories in alcohol add up to increased body fat. Not a pretty sight. Consider these points:

  • Calories in alcohol are used before stored fat calories. There goes the theory that drinking a beer (or two) after a workout counts as a fluid replacement. In reality, post-exercise alcohol is a straight-to-the-fat-pads beverage.
  • People who are overweight actually gain weight more easily when they drink alcohol.
  • Calories from alcohol tend to be stored in the abdomen. If you want six-pack abs, abstain from alcohol.

Calorie content of common alcoholic beverages

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 can really add up.


Non-alcoholic beer actually has the same calories as beer with alcohol: 148 calories in 12 ounces. Drinking light beer, you'll only take in 99 calories per 12 ounces. One six-pack has more than 800 calories (and that's without the chips and dip).


Dry wine contains fewer calories than sweet: 106 calories for 5 ounces of dry wine and a whopping 226 calories for 5 ounces of sweet dessert wine (without the chocolate mousse). 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.

You'll be glad to hear that champagne contains the same amount of calories as other dry wines, 106 calories per 5 ounces.

The hard stuff

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 percent alcohol; 100 proof contains 50 percent alcohol. And it's easy to guess which has more calories: The higher the proof, the higher the calories. Here's the damage:

  • 1 1/2 ounces 80 proof contains 97 calories
  • 1 1/2 ounces 90 proof contains 110 calories
  • 1 1/2 ounces 100 proof contains 124 calories

Calorie content of other types of liquor varies greatly. If you're watching your weight, choose cordial, at only 20 calories per 1 1/2 ounces. Schnapps has 108 calories per 1 1/2 ounces, but 1 1/2 ounces of creme de menthe will set you back 186 calories.

Mixed drinks

Obviously, the larger the drink the higher the calorie content. If your favorite watering hole serves pond-sized margaritas, you can easily drink more than 400 calories (without the tortilla chips and guacamole). Choose a more petite 2-ounce Manhattan and you'll only drink 128 calories. Here are common serving sizes and calorie amounts for your favorite drinks:

  • 5-ounce Blood Mary: 115 calories (and the celery adds less than 5 calories)
  • 8-ounce eggnog: 490 calories (remember I said you wouldn't believe this)
  • 7.5-ounce gin and tonic: 171 calories
  • 4.5-ounce pina colada: 262 calories
  • 3-ounce whiskey sour: 122 calories

    Adding it all up

One beer every night adds 1,036 additional calories per week, or 15 pounds, to your stomach per year. No wonder they call it a beer belly. Three glasses of dry wine a week will cost you 318 calories, which takes an additional three miles on the treadmill just to walk off the extra calories. If you're watching your weight, try this advice:

  •  Don't drink alcohol on a regular basis.
  •  Remember that the calories from alcohol add up quickly, and they go straight to the fat in your abdomen.
  •  Most people eat high calorie snacks when they drink alcohol, a double whammy in terms of weight gain.

Suddenly, water with a twist of lemon never looked so good.

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.