... food and drink, calories and nutrition

Alcohol: does it fit into a healthy diet?

Which drinks contain the least calories?

If you're looking for a way to enjoy moderate drinking while minimizing the calories you consume, you should be aware that alcohol itself has a fixed energy content. Low calorie beverages are made by reducing the alcoholic strength along with any sugars in the mixers. There aren't any truly "diet" or "health" alcoholic drinks.

If you're on a weight loss diet, you will need to limit your intake strictly, because in its purest form there are 7 calories in alcohol per gram. That's the bottom line and there is no getting away from that fact. You can keep to a minimum, however, the energy contained in the rest of your drink. So here are some suggestions for drinks which have fewer calories compared with their alcoholic content.

Maximum alcohol, minimum calories

For the lowest calorie alcohol, straight spirits such as tequila, gin, bourbon, vodka and whiskey will give you the best alc-to-cal ratio. However, all these tipples require particular care as they make it all too easy to consume more alcohol than you ought in one go.

Somewhat better might be spirits with the addition of some water or a low-calorie diet mixer. This way it may be easier to track the amount you drink, though it would still require some extra restraint. Don't forget - if you have too much, you'll probably forget all your low-cal good intentions!

A good choice for many

Next best on the list - and maybe the best compromise for most drinkers - are the "light" or diet versions of standard beverages: beer, cider, wine. These would contain between perhaps 5% and 20% more calories per alcohol unit than straight spirits or spirits with low-calorie mixers, but are easier to control in terms of not drinking to excess.

Approach with caution

Full-blown beer, cider and wine, with up to about twice as many calories per unit than straight spirits or spirits with low-cal mixers, are probably best avoided or at least kept to a minimum.

Cal City

If you like lots of calories, fortified wine such as port or sherry or the branded mixer drinks or spirits such as vodka with standard mixers - and especially liqueurs such as Bailey's Irish Cream, which is jam-packed with them - would be the way to go, but you should only have these if you don't care about calorie consumption (or need to put on weight)!

Cocktails, of course, vary enormously, as their recipes call for any number of shots and mixers, so every serving would require its own analysis for calories.

As well as body mass considerations, it is wise also when drinking to consider your health. If you need a more comprehensive breakdown of the calories in individual drinks, you can find it here.