Long, hard work week? What’s your choice way to relax? Perhaps you go for a killer workout at the gym, or you curl up on the couch with a book you’ve been dying to read. But be honest, how many of us can’t wait to pour that glass of red wine or pop the top on that craft brew? For many adults, the preferred way to unwind is with alcohol.

Though we’ve all heard the reports that say moderate drinking can have health benefits, too much alcohol can cause many short-term and long-term problems in your body. It’s important to know exactly what is meant by ‘moderation’, how much is too much, and which alcoholic drinks are healthier than others.

Moderation:

In moderation, certain alcoholic drinks like red wine can lower bad cholesterol, boost good cholesterol, and reduce blood clotting. But remember, this evidence is not conclusive so moderation is truly key. But, exactly, what is moderation?

For women, moderation is one serving a day. For men, moderation is two servings a day.

1 Serving:

  • 12-ounces of regular beer or wine cooler.

  • 8-ounces of malt liquor.

  • 5-ounces of wine.

  • 1.5-ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey).

Heavy Drinking:

Heavy drinking is defined as more than one serving a day for women, and more than two servings a day for men. Thus, one extra serving above the moderate level puts you into the heavy drinking bracket. And the heavy drinking bracket not only eliminates all health benefits, it also brings about a load of health risks.

Calories:

Aside from internal health risks, alcohol is also one of the biggest contributors to weight gain. And don’t think by slamming back shots of clear liquor, you cut the calories. Wine, beer, liquor, or liqueur—they all hold heavy calories that should be accounted for in your weekly fitness and nutrition regiment.

The following is an overall calorie count for wine, hard liquor, beer, and liqueur. For calorie counts in specific brands and specialty cocktails, look here.

Wine
Red wine is thought to have more heart-health antioxidants than white wine and is also the most calorie-friendly alcoholic beverage.

Wine

Per 5-oz Serving

Chardonnay

100 calories, 2 g carbs

Pinot Grigio

100 calories, 2 g carbs

Zinfandel

100 calories, 2 g carbs

Cabernet Sauvignon

100 calories, 4 g carbs

Merlot

100 calories, 4 g carbs

Hard Liquor
Surprisingly enough, hard liquor is higher in calories than wine per ounce. What’s worse, hard liquor is often mixed with sugary sodas increasing the calories and damage to the body. Drink with caution.

Hard Liquor

Per 1.5-oz Serving

Vermouth

64 calories, 0.4 g carbs

Coconut Rum

77 calories, 8 g carbs

Gin

98 calories, 0 g carbs

Rye Whiskey

104 calories, 0 g carbs

Scotch Whiskey

104 calories, 0 g carbs

White Rum

104 calories, 0 g carbs

Vodka

104 calories, 0 g carbs

Cognac

104 calories, 3 g carbs

Tequila

104 calories, 8 g carbs

Beer
I would never suggest to any beer-heads to grab a “light” beer and be satisfied. For all you craft brew lovers out there, light beer just isn’t going to cut it. But keep in mind that with every frothy mug of vanilla-infused porter, you are increasing your caloric intake by as much as one hundred calories as compared to a light beer. And serving size can be hard to judge when drinking from a pitcher or a viking helmet.

Beer

Per 12-oz Serving

“Light” Beer

108 calories, 6 g carbs

Draft Beer

144 calories, 13.2 g carbs

Lager

168 calories, 13.2 g carbs

Ale

216 calories, 13.2 g carbs

Liqueur
Liqueurs or cordials are usually enjoyed as after-dinner drinks sometimes alongside a dessert. They are often creamy with high calorie and fat content. Drink less often, for special occasions.

Liqueur

Per 1.5-oz Serving

Chocolate Liqueur

155 calories, 17 g carbs

Mint Liqueur

155 calories, 17 g carbs

Peppermint Liqueur

155 calories, 17 g carbs

Strawberry Liqueur

155 calories, 17 g carbs

Familiarizing yourself with the facts and knowing the risks of consuming, you can still enjoy a martini or some Pinot Noir now and again. As always, drink responsibly.