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Sneaky calorie content in popular alcoholic drinks

December 27, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Moderation is key when alcohol is involved. But in our "bigger-is-better" society, larger drinks equate to not just more alcohol but also many more calories.

Nutritionist Patricia Greenberg believes many adults are in the dark about just how many calories they consume through drinking.

"Nowadays with all the concoctions being created by the bartenders to be more creative and more interesting and have different flavors, it's a higher sugar content and actual higher quantity," Greenberg said.

Greenberg runs the Fit Gourmet, an education consulting firm that specializes in teaching nutrition seminars nationwide. As a nutrition expert and certified culinary professional, Greenberg is concerned about liquid calories, particularly the kind with alcohol we tend to indulge in over the holidays.

"We know it's got some calories but really people don't understand the full impact especially of a mixed drink," Greenberg said.

Studies indicate we don't recognize liquid calories as we do solids and they certainly don't fill us up. Let's look at the calorie counts when we compare them to food.

A martini delivers 338 calories in one hit, about the equivalent of a full slice of pizza.

Margaritas and sweet juice drinks are now served in a standard 7.5-ounce glass.

"It could be almost 300 calories for one drink," Greenberg said. "That may not sound like a lot but combined with the food having two or three, again you're almost at 1,000 calories in your drinks and appetizers."

Egg nog, a holiday favorite, is the worst offender. The single-biggest calorie drink delivers a whopping 480 calories, about the same as a serving of beef stroganoff.

According to a study in the journal of Drug and Alcohol Review, mixed drinks frequently contain 42 percent more alcohol than a standard one-shot beverage.

It's assumed a generous pour might equal a better tip. But the end result is a higher amount of alcohol with a sugar beverage, that's why beer or wine might be a better bet.

A light beer can be a nice option ranging between 55 and 90 calories equaling a healthy salad.

And a glass of white wine or a regular beer, ranges from 150 to 170 calories depending on the brand. It equals three buffalo wings or five crackers and an ounce of cheese.

Red wine ranks slightly higher with 200 calories, the same count you'll get in 3 ounces of roast beef.

And while wine glasses vary in size, many are pouring 6 to 8 ounces.

"Two or three glasses of wine with dinner can be the equivalent of 600 to 700 calories," Greenberg said.

Obviously, Greenberg wants you to rehydrate with water and limit consumption.

"Sipping your alcohol, this is a critical part of it," Greenberg said. "Savor the flavor of the drink. Don't down it."


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