How many calories does the average alcoholic beverage have?

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I have a question regarding alcohol, calories and weight gain. How many calories does the average alcoholic beverage have? And, is it typical for drinkers (depending on amount) to gain or lose weight? Thanks so much.

Alcohol has been found to stimulate the appetite and 1 drink before meals have been prescribed for adults with a poor appetite. So in a person who already has a good appetite, alcohol will also improve their appetite which can lead to weight gain.

The following describes 1 alcohol drink or 1 alcohol unit.

  • 12 ounces beer = 150 calories and 13.9 grams of alcohol equal to eating 1 slice of bread with 1 1/2 teaspoons of butter
  • 12 ounces lite beer = 100 calories and 11 grams alcohol equal to eating 2 teaspoons of butter
  • 4 ounces wine (red or dry white) = 85 calories and 15.6 grams of alcohol equal to eating 2 teaspoons of butter
  • 4 ounces sweet wine (white) = 90 calories and 15.1 grams of alcohol equal to eating 1 slice of bread and 3 teaspoons of butter.
  • 3 ounces sake = 117 calories and 14.1 grams of alcohol
  • 1 1/2 ounces liquor (80 proof or 40% alcohol) = 105 calories and 14 grams of alcohol equal to eating 2 teaspoons of butter
    • add 6 ounces carbonated beverage mix to 1 1/2 ounces liquor and the calories and carbohydrates increase:
      • cola 68 calories and 18 grams carbohydrate
      • lemon-lime 74 calories and 19 grams carbohydrate
  • Exchange values by the Joslin Clinic.

In 2012, Gallup found Americans average 4 alcohol drinks per week which can add up to at least 500 to 612 (beer) calories a week depending on what a person drinks. All it takes is 500 calories a day to gain 1 pound in a week. So a person who drinks 4 drinks a week could gain 1 pound every 7 weeks or 7.5 pounds a year. Research shows that abdominal weight gain increases with frequent use of alcohol. If people limit their intake of alcohol, it would help with weight loss. However, people who consume large amounts of alcohol and little food usually lose weight and have liver disease (cirrhosis) or protein-calorie malnutrition.

To reduce health risk from drinking alcohol, it is recommended that:

  • men drink no more than 2 drinks described above or 2 alcohol units.
  • women drink no more than 1 drink described above or 1 alcohol unit. More drinks per day will increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer.