15 Lowest-Calorie Alcohols For Weight Loss | The 15 Lowest-Calorie Alcohols To Sip If You’re Trying To Lose Weight, According To Nutritionists

When embarking on a weight loss journey, you may find yourself scrutinizing the calorie content of the foods and drinks you consume, especially considering the surprising calorie density of some favorites like alcoholic beverages. While maintaining a calorie deficit is crucial for weight loss, the impact of drinking extends beyond just additional calories. Kimberly Gomer, RDN, the director of nutrition at Body Beautiful Miami, notes that alcohol, being a toxin and inflammatory substance, is prioritized by the liver as an immediate energy source, potentially slowing down or halting weight loss progress.

In addition to its caloric impact, alcohol can lower inhibitions, impair focus during meals, and contribute to overeating or choosing less healthy foods, explains Marissa Meshulam, RDN, the owner of MPM Nutrition. Tanya Mezher, RDN, a lead functional practitioner at Malla, adds that alcohol-induced drops in blood sugar levels can lead to increased hunger and snacking. Moreover, dealing with hangovers may disrupt regular exercise routines and healthy habits.

Despite these challenges, it’s feasible to include alcohol in your lifestyle while aiming for weight loss, but it requires awareness of quantity and consideration of the types of alcohol consumed. To guide your choices, dietitians provide insights into the best low-calorie drinks for home consumption or ordering at a bar.

How many calories are in different types of alcohol?

Generally, various types of alcohol contain roughly the same number of calories, as explained by Amy Gorin, RDN, the owner of Plant Based With Amy. She emphasizes that a drink with around 100 calories, on its own, is not likely to derail your weight loss goals. The key factor that can make a drink more filling is not the alcohol content but rather the additional ingredients bartenders incorporate, such as sugary mixes and simple syrups.

Here’s a breakdown of the calorie count for each type of alcohol:

  • Vodka: One shot contains 97 calories (0 grams carbs, 0 grams sugar)
  • Rum: One shot contains 97 calories (0 grams carbs, 0 grams sugar)
  • Whiskey, bourbon, and scotch: One shot contains 105 calories (0.03 grams of carbs per ounce, 0.03 grams of sugar per ounce)
  • Gin: One shot contains 110 calories (0 grams carbs, 0 grams sugar)
  • Tequila: One shot contains 105 calories (0 grams carbs, 0 grams sugar)
  • Champagne: One 4-ounce glass contains 90 calories (3 grams carbs, 1 gram sugar)
  • Beer: One 12-ounce bottle contains 153 calories (13 grams carbs, 0 grams sugar)
  • Wine: One 5-ounce glass of wine contains 123 calories (4 grams carbs, 1 gram sugar)
  • Baileys: One shot contains 147 calories (11 grams carbs, 9 grams sugar)

How do you make a low-calorie alcoholic drink?

Here are some tips for creating a light and low-calorie alcoholic drink at home, provided by Gomer:

  • Add seltzer to any cocktail (e.g., a wine spritzer) for extra fizz and volume with 0 calories and 0 carbs.
  • Use plenty of ice to stretch your drink and add volume without additional calories.
  • Drink a glass of water or seltzer before and after consuming alcohol to mitigate dehydration effects and slow down consumption.
  • Choose a mixer like diet tonic, diet soda, or sugar-free options such as Sparkling Ice (which has only five calories per bottle and no sugar).
  • Avoid adding sugary fruit juices, puree, or syrups to reduce calories and carbs.

The Best Low-Calorie Alcoholic Drinks For Weight Loss

Here’s a quick tip sheet for ordering a drink that aligns with your weight-loss goals, featuring the best drink orders with popular spirits, according to our experts.

1. Vodka Soda 2.0

Opting for zero-calorie seltzer with vodka can be a weight-conscious choice, as vodka typically contains about 97 calories per 1.5-ounce shot, notes Mezher. For those following a higher carbohydrate plan, adding a squeeze or slice of fresh fruit is acceptable, according to Gomer. However, if you’re on a low-carb diet, a squeeze of lemon or lime might be a better option, she suggests. Experimenting with various teas, such as matcha, and sparkling water at home can enhance the flavor without adding extra calories, says Mezher. For example, try shaking matcha, lime seltzer, and vodka and serving it over ice.

2. Rum And Diet Cola

Opt for a diet cola with rum instead of the regular version to effortlessly cut down on calories and sugar, advises Gomer. A 1.5-fluid-ounce serving of rum contains no carbs, no fat, and approximately 97 calories.

3. Rum And Unsweetened Black Tea

If you’re not a fan of cola, consider opting for rum with unsweetened black tea, as suggested by Gorin. Adding one cup of unsweetened black tea to your drink will contribute only about two calories, while the rum itself contains approximately 97 calories per 1.5-ounce shot, according to Mezher.

“This might be challenging to order at a restaurant or bar, but it’s a great option for home preparation,” notes Gomer. “Just be aware that black tea contains caffeine, which adds to the dehydrating effect, so staying hydrated is important, especially if you’re having more than one.”

4. Manhattan

If you prefer not to drink your whiskey straight, consider opting for a classic Manhattan (whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters) – a choice that keeps calories, carbs, and sugars at a lower level. The typical recipe involves two ounces of whiskey (approximately 105 calories) and one ounce of sweet vermouth (about 64 calories), totaling around 169 calories. “A Manhattan is a reasonable option if you can limit yourself to ideally one or two drinks,” suggests Gomer.

5. Gin Martini

Embracing your inner Bond might be a wise move for weight loss, as a gin martini with two olives and brine contains approximately 200 calories with virtually no sugar or carbs, according to Mezher.

For those desiring more flavor, Mezher recommends getting creative with ingredients such as chopped ginger or muddled mint or sage leaves, which are not only low in calories but also nutritious. Mix them in a cocktail shaker with ice and gin, shake thoroughly, pour over ice, and garnish with a cucumber slice.

6. Paloma

The tangy pink paloma, crafted with grapefruit and lime juice, offers a margarita-like experience with fewer calories. Nevertheless, Gomer points out, “This drink has 158 calories and six grams of carbs, so it can add up fast if you have more than one.” Additionally, it’s worth noting that most palomas are traditionally made with grapefruit soda, so choosing a squeeze of fresh grapefruit or grapefruit seltzer can help avoid extra calories and carbs, according to Mezher.

7. Champagne, Seltzer, And Fruit

A five-ounce glass of bubbly isn’t much—but you can fill up the rest of your flute with seltzer and fresh fruit or mint leaves for a drink that’s yummy and only 90 calories, says Mezher. Another pro tip? Muddle fruit and herbs, which add true natural flavor without refined sugar.

8. Light Beer

Opt for a light beer instead of the regular version, as a 12-ounce pour only has about 90 to 100 calories, depending on the brand, says Mezher. It’s a good way to still enjoy beer without the same density as the usual beverage, Gorin says.

Need a specific recommendation? The Budweiser Select 55 has the lowest calorie and carb count, according to Gomer. “It’s also a larger portion compared to other drinks, so nursing two all night is a great strategy,” she says.

9. Dry Red Wine

Red wine usually has around 120 to 130 calories per five-ounce pour, as indicated by Mezher.

Choose a dry wine over sweeter options like moscato, sherry, riesling, or dessert wines whenever possible, as they contain less sugar, suggests Mezher. Additionally, Gomer advises diluting your wine with seltzer or ice to consume fewer calories.

10. Baileys And Coffee

Enhance your cup of coffee with a 1.5-ounce shot of Baileys, as coffee is not only delicious but also almost calorie-free, according to Gorin. However, limit it to one drink, as each shot contains over 100 calories, as noted by Mezher, and the caffeine in coffee can contribute to dehydration, says Gomer. (You can also choose decaf coffee as an option.) To minimize calorie intake per drink, it’s advisable to avoid adding sweeteners or creamers, adds Mezher.

11. Tequila And Lime Splash

Create a refreshing drink with a 1.5-ounce shot of tequila, a splash of lime, and soda, delivering a kick and a hint of citrus flavor with approximately 100 calories. For those seeking a touch of sweetness, Mezher suggests trying seasonal ingredients such as muddled mint and basil or freshly chopped berries, offering rich flavors without the added calories. Simply combine all the ingredients in an ice-cold shaker, shake well, and serve in a chilled glass. For an additional tangy twist, rim the glass with a lime wedge.

12. Vodka And Mint, Cucumber, And A Lime Wedge

Create a refreshing and low-calorie drink by mixing muddled mint and cucumber with fresh lime juice and vodka, suggests Mezher. This choice is excellent as it is low in calories and carbs, and the addition of mint, cucumber, and lime imparts a bold flavor, notes Gomer. With vodka containing about 97 calories per shot, the mint and cucumber contribute minimal calories, making it a flavorful yet light option.

13. Margarita on the Rocks

Opt for a margarita on the rocks instead of fancy frozen drinks like daiquiris, advises Keri Gans, RD, author of The Small Change Diet. For a reduced-sugar option, request no agave. Keep in mind that a margarita on the rocks contains about 200 calories per drink, primarily from tequila and orange liqueur, according to Mezher. Be mindful of the carb content and limit yourself to one.

14. Seasonal Cocktail

Many bars and restaurants are innovating with creative cocktail menus that incorporate seasonal ingredients, such as sage spritzers or ginger margaritas, according to Mezher. When ordering, inquire about the additional ingredients to avoid added sugars.

15. Liquor With A Wedge

“Choose tequila, vodka, or gin with club soda or seltzer,” recommends Gans. The liquor contains about 96 to 105 calories per shot, but Gomer suggests enhancing it with a single fruit wedge, such as grapefruit, lemon, or lime on the side, for a refreshing and delicious twist with only a negligible amount of additional calories or carbs. You can also muddle fruits and herbs to infuse natural flavors without the extra calories and carbs typically found in pre-made mixers, adds Mezher.

What is the best way to order an alcoholic drink if you’re trying to lose weight?

Now that you’ve identified the best alcoholic drinks for weight loss, consider these tips for ordering your drink thoughtfully:

  1. Keep it simple: Gans advises sticking to straightforward choices. Mixing different types of alcohol can significantly increase calorie content. Opt for simplicity, like enjoying gin neat with a splash of fresh lime instead of a sugar-loaded G&T.
  2. Embrace whiskey: When aiming for the lowest-calorie alcohol, start with whiskey or scotch and add water to enhance the flavors. Alternatively, use a no-calorie mixer like club soda, suggests Gorin.
  3. Make ingredient swaps: Lower the calorie count in your favorite drink by making simple swaps. For instance, ask for a margarita with less agave or request a mojito with reduced sugar, advises Gorin. Be mindful of juice choices, opting for 100 percent juice over juice cocktails that may contain added sugar.
  4. Add fruits for flavor: Enhance your drink with natural flavors by incorporating muddled fruits and herbs instead of relying on juices, soda, or sugar, recommends Meshulam. Elevate your beverage with splashes of lemon, lime, and soda water for a refreshing twist.

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