A single drink is unlikely to make too much of a dent on your daily goals, but often one drink can turn into three or more! Alcohol offers little or no nutritional benefit besides calories, and mixed drinks can start adding up even quicker. Some drinks like a Long Island Ice Tea can end up totaling more than 700 calories! That is 35% of an average person's daily needs in just one drink!
Alcohol alone is not usually a high calorie item but it takes up space in your diet that you could be filling with more beneficial and nutritious choices.
- 12oz of beer: ~150 calories
- 5oz of wine: ~100 calories
- 12oz light beer: ~100 calories
- 1.5oz of 80-proof distilled spirits: 100 calories
- 1.5oz cordial/ liqueur: ~160
Each equivalency contains .6 fluid ounces of pure ethanol.
Some of the most commonly available drinks are some of the highest in calories. Margaritas, Pina Coladas, and anything with liqueurs in it like Mudslides, Chocotinis, and White Russians can quickly add up. It would just take a few of these drinks to add up to more than your entire daily caloric needs!
But at the same time, there are only so many vodka sodas with lime or whiskeys and diet soda that you can enjoy. Sometimes you want something more flavorful and fun! The following are 6 mixed drinks that are both tasty and lower calorie choices!
This is a fun one to make at home! Mix a beer/ lager with limes, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, black pepper, a little bit of sea salt and pour over ice! You can make with light or regular beer.
2. Bloody Mary with a Full Garden
This is a Sunday morning favorite, and is a low calorie choice! Mix your favorite unflavored vodka with vegetable juice/ tomato juice (read the label to choose low sodium and low calorie choices), Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, horseradish, pepper and optional salt. Try a full garden with lots of added vegetables like green beans, celery, cilantro, peppers, cherry tomatoes, baby asparagus, olives and artichoke hearts. Extra vegetables not only provide vitamins and minerals but the fiber will fill you up and may slow how fast you finish your drink.
3. Sea Breeze
Instead of a boring vodka with cranberry juice, try a sea breeze. The zest of the 4 oz. of grapefruit juice with 1½ oz. of cranberry juice, and 1 oz. of vodka will mix up your regular drink and is only 180 calories. Always read the label when purchasing fruit juice. Often juice, like cranberry juice, found in bars contains very little juice and is mostly sugar. Opt for fresh-squeezed or 100% fruit juice options to reduce added sugars or blend whole fruit for fiber, vitamins and minerals! Diluting with water, club soda and ice will also help reduce the amount of juice used.
4. Tequila and Soda
Salt the rim of your glass, then top your tequila with seltzer water with lots of fresh squeezed limes and you have a low-calorie drink that might meet your craving for margaritas! Margarita mix or most pre-made drink mixes are high in calories, preservatives (so they can sit on those bar counters forever!) and can mostly be unnecessary! Read the label of all drink mixes before you purchase. This drink will keep you around the 100 calorie range.
5. Champagne Cocktail
A 4oz glass of champagne is only 85 calories! That is fewer calories than a glass of wine or a light beer but be care that you are not too heavy handed when pouring. Because it is so light and fizzy a bottle can quickly disappear and at an average of 25 ounces, one bottle will have ~530 calories. Add fresh fruits for added flavor and nutrition. For a champagne cocktail, add a splash of your favorite fruit-flavored vodka and coordinating fruit or fruit juice.
6. Sour Apple Pear Martini
Martinis are some of the highest culprits because there are typically a minimum of 3 ounces of alcohol in a single drink. But for those who enjoy martinis, consider sour apple pear martini. This drink is made with made with 2 1/2oz sour mix, 3/4oz vodka and 3/4oz sour apple liqueur. Optional lime, lemon or sour orange cuts can be added. A single drink is about ~160 calories.
Emily DeLacey MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian and currently working in Jamaica as a HIV/ AIDS Prevention Specialist. She attended Central Washington University for her Bachelor's Degree in Science and Dietetics and continued on after her internship to Kent State University for her Master's Degree in Science and Nutrition, with a focus on public health and advocacy. She served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi 2012-2014 working as a Community Health Advisor in a rural village, immersing in the joys of life without electricity or running water. She has been to 20+ countries and 47 of the 50 states in the US. Traveling, adventuring and experiencing new cultures has made her a passionate advocate for the equality of nutrition and wellness for all people.