Beer Calories Vs. Liquor Calories

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Many consumers enjoy an occasional alcoholic beverage, whether it is a beer or a cocktail. When trying to determine which choice has fewer calories, it is best to select beer. A 12-ounce light beer has approximately 100 calories, while some liquors can contain twice that amount in 1.5 ounces. Many liquors are also mixed with other beverages to create cocktails, which in some cases can double the amount of calories.

Six pack and single bottles of beer on store shelf
Six pack and single bottles of beer on store shelf (Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Misconceptions

Many consumers do not consider the high calorie count of alcoholic beverages. This leads to misconceptions concerning the actual calorie intake after just a few drinks. According to nutritionist Elizabeth Somer, R.D., “The reason you gain weight from alcohol is that you don't compensate by eating less later. You still eat the same amount, regardless of whether you had the drink." Beverages do not give the feeling of fullness that meals or snacks might, causing many people to fill up on calories without actually being full.

Liquor bottles on bar shelf
Liquor bottles on bar shelf (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Types

Most 1.5-ounce shots of liquor contain more than 100 calories. Popular cocktails can contain triple that amount once the mixer is added. A daiquiri has more than 300 calories, while a Long Island iced tea has 275 calories. A rum and coke contains 182 calories, a Manhattan has 210, and a margarita has 246. A dark 12-ounce beer has 150 calories. The amount of calories found in beer and liquor vary by brand, but liquor with less alcohol content will have fewer calories.

Bartenders making margaritas
Bartenders making margaritas (Image: Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Comparisons

To put the numbers into perspective, consider that one 12-ounce beer has approximately the same amount of calories as one 3.5-ounce roasted skinless chicken. A martini can be compared with a slice of cheese pizza, and a gin and tonic has a similar calorie count of a bowl of chips and salsa. Five ounces of Baileys Irish Creme is comparable with a meal consisting of a 3.5-ounce lean steak, baked potato with sour cream, and a green salad.

Martini on bar counter
Martini on bar counter (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Fewer Calories

For drinks with the least amount of calories, choose a light beer. If you prefer liquor or cocktails, a Bloody Mary has 123 calories. A martini has 135. For shots, select liquor with a lower proof. A shot of 80 proof liquor contains fewer calories than one that is 100 proof. Brandy and cognac have the least amount of calories; each contains 64 calories per 80 proof shot.

Bartender serving Bloody Mary drinks
Bartender serving Bloody Mary drinks (Image: Rob Kim/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Considerations

When choosing a beer, remember that the amount of calories is usually directly related to the color of the beer. The darker it is, the higher the calorie count it contains. Also, remember that when consuming liquor, adding a mixer of 6 ounces of carbonated soda can increase the calorie content by 65-75 calories. Keep track of the beverages you are drinking so that you do not consume more calories than intended.

Different liquor drinks and beer
Different liquor drinks and beer (Image: Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

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