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We've talked about some of the negative health impacts alcohol can have, but we haven't talked about the calories. It's not great news on that front. Booze is calorie dense. Even the "light" stuff.

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There are lots of reasons that drinking too much alcohol is a bad idea, but we don't often talk about the calories. Let's do that now. This is Healthcare Triage News.


The Center for Science in the Public Interest, whose calorie counts of terrible foods we've covered in the past, has put out a tally on alcohol. Totally worth a perusal. 

Let's start with light beer, which, given the name, you'd hope is low in calories. Sometimes. Budweiser Select 55 clocks in at the bottom at, you guessed it, 55 calories. Not bad, if you can stand to drink one. If you drink a lot though, still a lot of calories. And what about Budlight Lime, Michelob Light, and Sam Adam's Light? 120 calories each! That's actually more than plain old Busch, at 110 calories, that was the choice of certain college kids I might have know at Amherst College in the early 1990s. Who knew we were drinking light?

And, when you get to the fancy beers, like imperial IPAs, or a personal favorite, Victory Golden Monkey, you're topping out at 250 calories or more per beer. That's more calories than a small fries at McDonald's. If you have two beers, it's like the calories of a Big Mac.

Wine has calories, too. A five ounce glass of white wine is about 121 calories, and red is 125 calories. But, are you just drinking 5 ounces and just one glass?

Straight up liquor has fewer calories. A one and a half ounce drink of gin. vodka, whiskey, bourbon, scotch, which are all great, they're all, in general, fewer than 100 calories. So are brandy and cognac. Liqueurs go a bit higher, to 165 calories.

But, when you go and turn liquor into mixed drinks, which through in simple syrup and such, things can be much worse. Chili's Ultimate Fresh Margarita has 270 calories. Red Lobster's traditional Lobsterita, which apparently is a thing, has 410. Red Robin has an Irish Beer Shake, which has Guinness, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream, that tops out at, and I kid you not, 780 calories. I mean, you are basically consuming a meal in a drink.

And that's all fun, and I know that none of you are drinking the Irish Beer Shake, right? But, the bottom line is that, as always, in moderation most of these are fine. The problem is that people often don't drink just one drink. A few fancy beers can run you 700 calories easily. A few mixed drinks can do the same. Even one or two a night can add up over time.

Don't ignore the calories in alcohol. Don't ignore the alcohol in alcohol either, of course. Think about what you're drinking in every sense possible.


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