Liquid Calories

Ever wonder just how many calories that beer or glass of wine is adding to your daily total? If you haven't given it a thought, you're like many Americans. But it's time to face the facts: Beverages have calories-and sometimes quite a few.

Several consumer groups, including the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and Shape Up America, have been pushing for alcoholic-beverage labeling for years. In 2003 these groups petitioned the federal government to set nutrition-labeling standards. One of their major motives was research data that showed that many consumers believe alcoholic beverages contain fewer calories than they actually do.

Here is a rundown of the calories in alcoholic beverages:

12 ounces of beer: 120 to 190
12 ounces of light beer: 100
5 ounces of wine: 100
1 ½ ounces of liquor: 100
4 ½ ounce Pina Colada: 260
5 ½ ounce Tequila Sunrise: 190

Keep in mind that most people drink liquor with caloric mixers, which can increase calories dramatically. Remember, a safe level of alcohol consumption for men is no more than two alcoholic beverages per day on average (no more than four drinks on one occasion) and one alcoholic beverage per day on average for women (no more than three drinks on one occasion).

Beth Kitchin, MS, RD
Assistant Professor
UAB Department of Nutrition Sciences