We are in the search to find the lowest calorie alcohol-containing drink. Since it’s no longer a surprise that alcohol consumption contributes to weight gain, we need to know what the better choices are. Undeniably, drinking alcohol is an integral part of many social settings. According to the World Health Organisation, the amount of alcohol consumed in Singapore has been on the rise since 2003. Interestingly, it appears that our favourite alcoholic beverage is beer (at a staggering 70% of alcoholic beverages consumed!) followed by spirits, wine and other drinks respectively.
How ‘Fat’ is Alcohol?
Let’s do a breakdown shall we? There are 3 macronutrients in our diet- Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat. Now let’s compare how many calories there are in 1g of each macronutrient. Carbohydrates and protein weigh in at around 4 calories (kcal) per gram. Fat on the other hand contains 9 calories per gram. *drumroll please*
1g of Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram! That’s close to the amount found in 1g of fat, the highest calorie nutrient.
What is a Serve of Alcohol?
A serve is what we call 1 standard drink. There are about 10g of alcohol in a standard drink but this can vary between different countries. A standard is used to account for the varying percentages of alcohol amongst alcoholic drinks. The general guideline is to have no more than 2 standard drinks for men and 1 standard drink for women on any single day. Refer to the table below to check out what counts as a serve:
Alcohol and nutrition
Here’s the bad news. Pure alcohol in a standard drink already accounts for 70 calories! Doesn’t sound like a lot? Well remember, this does not include calories from carbohydrates naturally occurring or intentionally added to the drinks. For 70 calories and under, you can eat a whole heap of nutrient-dense foods such as a serve of fruit, a small slice of wholemeal bread, a slice of low fat cheese or a tub of plain low fat yogurt. You get the drift.
Over the years there has been speculation on whether certain alcoholic beverages provide health benefits. In particular, red wine has been the centre of attention due to high levels of antioxidants that are shown to be protective against certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease. However, the benefit of risk reduction is linked with alcohol itself and not specific to red wine. There has been fair scientific evidence to show that moderate alcohol consumption helps decrease the risk of heart disease. But hold up! Before we crack open a bottle of champagne to celebrate, we do have to consider the larger picture.
There has been a great body of evidence to show that chronic consumption of more than 1-2 standard drinks a day is associated with increased risk of numerous cancers such as breast, lung, endometrial, liver and gastric cancers. It is also well documented that chronic consumption increases the risk of alcohol related liver disease.
The bottomline? It’s not worth it to risk the adverse health effects of alcohol for a small benefit.
Show me the numbers for the lowest calorie alcohol
Before we jump into the details, do note that calories in a standard drink may vary due to the percentage of alcohol contained. Spirits and liqueurs in particular have a large range of alcohol content. Opt for the lower strength alcoholic beverage under each category to reduce some calories! The infographic below shows the lowest calorie alcohol drinks you can indulge in with a friendly reminder of its food equivalent in calories 😉
If you’re diabetic, click here for more information on how you can enjoy your drinks.
With the newly gained knowledge, remember to enjoy responsibly!