The weekend is approaching, and perhaps you’re thinking about imbibing to wind down from the work week. Without putting much thought into your drink, you can easily rack up an extra 500-1,000 calories in one evening. With that, and your health, in mind, it’s best to drink in moderation, if you’re going to drink at all (there’s no reason to start now, if you’re not currently a drinker). There are at least five alcoholic beverages that can help you wind down while staying healthy.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, drinking in moderation is one drink for women and two drinks for men per day. But what is considered a “drink?” Twelve ounces of beer, 5 oz of wine, and 1.5 oz of distilled spirits are all considered one drink.
With so many options to choose from, how can you make a healthy drink choice? Below are five alcohol options that are low in calories and may provide some nutritional value. Although they are all different sizes, they all contain the same alcohol content.
Vodka and club soda
A standard pour of distilled spirits is 1.5 oz. There are 97 calories in that pour of vodka. You can keep that drink at 97 calories by mixing it with club soda instead of a sugary, high-calorie beverage, because club soda
has zero calories, no sugar, and no artificial sweeteners.
is very bubbly, which might fill you up and keep you from drinking too much.
is a non-alcoholic beverage (in fact, it’s all water) that can help hydrate you while sipping on vodka.
Want to add some flavor? Squeeze in a lemon or lime slice.
The calorie content of a 12 oz light beer is 103, which is pretty good compared to 153 calories in a regular beer. Light beer also has half the carbs as regular beer. You might be surprised to know that light beer contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals like folate (which is important for healthy cell growth and function), niacin, and potassium.
A standard pour of wine is 5 oz. Restaurants and bars are pretty good at meeting the standard pour, but raise your hand if your at-home pour is more like 6 or 7 oz! This is where the extra calories really start to come in. There are 121 calories in a standard 5 oz pour of white wine. You’ll get some minerals such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium (by the way, magnesium is important for proper bone growth and maintenance as well as for proper function of nerves and muscles). And, there are very small amounts of B vitamins such as folate, niacin, B6, and riboflavin.
There are 125 calories in a 5 oz pour of red wine. It’s pretty common to hear or read about the health benefits of drinking red wine. Perhaps that’s because the drink contains minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium as well as minute amounts of vitamins such as vitamin A (which is important for vision health) and B vitamins like folate, niacin, and riboflavin (this B vitamin can help protect against free radicals, which can damage cells and play a role in aging). In general, table red wine has less sugar than table white wine.
And, what about those hard seltzers that have become so popular this year? A 12 oz can has around 100 calories and 1-2g of sugar. Compared with sweetened cocktails (such as a margarita, whiskey sour, and a mint julep), hard seltzers have fewer calories and less sugar, which might make them a better option.
And now, you can imbibe this weekend with your health in mind! But please, drink responsibly -- be of the legal drinking age, drink in moderation, and arrange a designated driver. Light beer, white wine, red wine, and vodka mixed with club soda are among the healthiest alcohol beverages. If you prefer a sweetened cocktail, swap it out for a hard seltzer. Cheers!