Beer, Wine, and Liquor: Which Have the Least (and Most) Calories?

While there aren’t really any healthy alcoholic drinks, trying to do your best to keep calorie counts and carbs low when out on the town is never a bad idea. Beer, wine, mixed drinks, etc. all tend to have a good number of calories, and if you don’t want to develop a beer belly you’ll do yourself a favor by knowing what you’re guzzling. Choosing the lowest calorie alcohol is about to get easier, as many manufacturers are going to start putting calorie counts on the packaging — something most alcohol packaging lacks.

Still, you’d be hard-pressed to find any nutritionally sound or healthy drinks on a bar’s menu — so be forewarned. But with so much information available on the internet, and soon from packaging, picking the lowest calorie alcohol — be it beer, wine, liquor, or anything else — has never been easier.

Healthy drinks and lowest calorie alcohol

Bottles of alcohol, containing unhealthy and healthy drinks

Bottles of alcohol, containing unhealthy and healthy drinks | Source: iStock

Nutrition Action, a subsidiary of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, recently did the dirty work of digging through the nutritional information for tons of alcoholic beverages to figure out which had the least and most calories. They even broke it down by category (beer, light beer, wine, etc.) to make things really easy. Among eight different categories, here are the drinks with the least and most amount of calories.

Beer

mug of beer sitting on a wooden counter in low lighting

Mug of beer on a counter | Source: iStock

Most calories: Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout (320 calories)

Least calories: Busch (110)

With a name like Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout, you knew it wasn’t going to be slimming. That particular beer was the heaviest tested, coming in at a whopping 320 calories per 12-ounce bottle. Busch, on the other hand, was the lightest, with only 110. Most beers tested contained between 140 and 170 calories.

Light beer

beer bottles in assembly line

Beer bottles in assembly line | Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Most calories: Sam Adams Light, Bud Light Lime, and Michelob Light (120)

Least calories: Budweiser Select 55 (55)

Among 12-ounce light beers, there were three that tied for having the most calories, at 120: Sam Adams Light, Bud Light Lime, and Michelob Light. At 55 calories, Budweiser Select 55 was the leanest option — and 55 calories isn’t bad at all for a 12-ounce beer.

Malt beverages

malt grains

Malt grains | Source: iStock

Most calories: Sparks Blackberry, 16 oz. (380)

Least calories: Mike’s Lite Hard Lemonade (150)

As far as malt beverages go — that is, a drink that’s been produced from barley — you can get away with only 150 calories per 12-ounce drink with a Mike’s Lite Hard Lemonade. But you can more than double that if you have one 16-ounce Sparks Blackberry, which contains 380 calories. It’s also 8% alcohol by volume, which adds to the calorie count.

Hard cider

cider beer with apples

Mug of cold cider | Source: iStock

Most calories: Johnny Appleseed (210)

Least calories: Michelob Ultra Light (120)

Cider lovers out there, if you’re watching your figure, Michelob Ultra Light should be your drink of choice with a mere 120 calories per 12-ounces. If you’re not so concerned with that, reach for a Johnny Appleseed, the most calorie-heavy of the tested drinks at 210 calories. Of course, there is sugar content to take into consideration as well.

Wine

A glass of wine

A glass of wine | Source: iStock

Most calories: White, late harvest (210)

Least calories: Skinnygirl (120)

Wine can be tricky to figure out. There are a million wines out there, and getting any kind of nutritional information about them can be difficult. But of those tested, Skinnygirl was the lightest with 120 calories per 6-ounce glass. Late harvest white wine was the most calorie-heavy, with 210.

Liquor

Glasses of whiskey

Glasses of whiskey | Source: iStock

Most calories: Crème de menthe (190)

Least calories: Pimm’s No. 1 (80)

For those that like something a little stronger, the liquor with the most calories out there is crème de menthe with 190 per 1.5-ounces.. Pimm’s No. 1 only had 80. There weren’t many liquors listed in the study, but the majority of well-known drinks (whiskey, vodka, tequila) all have roughly 100 calories per 1.5 ounces.

Packaged mixed drinks

Bartender mixing drinks

Bartender mixing drinks | Source: iStock

Most calories: Daily’s Frozen Pi–ña Colada 10 oz. (290)

Least calories: Mr. & Mrs. T Original Bloody Mary Mix 6 oz. (90)

Prepackaged mixed drinks are harder to gauge, as the amount used when making a drink (as with the amount of alcohol) can vary a bit. But the drink with the least amount of calories was Mr. & Mrs. T Original Bloody Mary Mix with 90. Daily’s Frozen Pi–ña Colada, on the other hand, had the most with 290.

Restaurant mixed drinks

Red Robin's boozy milkshakes

Red Robin’s boozy milkshakes | Source: Red Robin

Most calories: Red Robin Irish Beer Shake (780)

Least calories: CPK Irish Coffee, Red Lobster’s Caramel Appletini, Manhattan, and Martini (160)

If you’re out to dinner, you’ll want to steer clear of the Red Robin Irish Beer Shake, which has a massive amount of calories at 780. That’s more than one-third of all the calories most people should be consuming over the course of a day. On the lighter side, several drinks came in at 160 calories, so take your pick.

Check out the complete list here from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

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