How to Track Alcohol
As much as we’d like for it to be, alcohol isn’t a freebie when it comes to tracking calories and macros. Even clear liquors, like vodka or tequila are not calorie or carb free, despite what some article in a fitness magazine might have told you Alcohol is arguable considered the 4th macronutrient, next to carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, compared to carbs and protein (4 calories/gram) and fats (9 calories/gram). As you can see, it’s much more calorically dense compared to carbs and protein. Whether you’re tracking your dietary intake or not, it’s still important at the very least to acknowledge that alcohol does contain calories and you should pay attention to your consumption, especially if you have body composition goals in mind.
If you are tracking your food and calories, here is how to track alcohol.
Because protein’s main role in our body is to build muscle and repair tissue, and is not a considerable energy source like carbs and fats, we will only be tracking alcohol towards our fat or carbs goals. You can track the calories from your alcohol as either fats or carbs, or a combination of both, but for simplicity purposes – and to keep the math simple – let’s calculate them separate. As a refresher, carbs contain 4 calories per gram and fats contain 9 calories per gram. Let’s use a 1.5 oz shot of vodka as an example which is ~95 calories.
If we wanted to track the shot of vodka as carbs, we would divide the total calories by 4.
95/4 = 23.75; (we’d round up to 24). You would track that shot as 24g of carbs.
– OR -
If we wanted to track the shot of vodka as fat, we would do the same math, but dividing the calories by 9.
95/9 = 10.5 (let’s round to 11 here) – 11g of fat
As you’ve likely noticed, most alcohols, wines and spirits do not have a nutrition label. To find the calories per serving, do a simple google search to get this information. Here are some common liquors, serving sizes and calories. From here, you can do the math as shown above with these calorie amounts. Remember, this is per serving, so if you’re having more than one, you’ll need to account for that as well. My suggestion is to save this as a “recipe” in your tracking app to quickly and conveniently use in the future!
Hard liquors: 1.5 oz = ~70-90 calories
Wine: 5 oz. = ~ 120-150 calories
Beer (i.e. Coors): 12 oz. = ~155 calories
Light beer (i.e. Coors Light): = ~105 calories