We’ve all seen it attached to the front of our once thin and athletic friend – the infamous “beer belly.”

So, just how many calories does the average alcoholic drink contain? The answer is far from simple. A 12-ounce container of beer contains anywhere from 115 to 200 calories, with the typical beer averaging approximately 155 calories per serving. Light beers average 100 calories per 12-ounce serving – still a hefty number for one drink. The term “beer belly” is misleading in the sense that other alcoholic drinks, particular mixed drinks and increasingly popular “alcopops,” can contain significantly more calories per serving. Most liquors and spirits average 62 to 160 calories per 1.25-ounce serving – one shot – but certain liquors such as Southern Comfort and tequila boast upwards of 200 calories per 1.25-ounce serving.

Most wines average anywhere from 80 to 130 calories per 4-ounce glass. On average, the sweeter the wine, the more calories per serving. Mixed drinks are entirely dependent on their content, and don’t forget to include the caloric value of the mixer or juice! Experts estimate that the typical Gin and Tonic averages 180 calories, with a Long Island Iced Tea averaging closer to 800. Alcopops first appeared in Great Britain in 1995 and have since taken off in markets around the world. Alcopops include drinks such as Smirnoff Ice, Bacardi’s Silver Raz, O3 and Limn, as well as Skyy Blue and Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Alcopops come pre-mixed in 12-ounce bottles, and average 220 to 315 calories per 12-ounce serving.

Considered to be “empty calories” – in that they possess no inherent nutritional value – the hidden calories in your favorite drink can become a serious problem over time.

Newman works in the Health Promotion Office of the University Health Service and can be reached at jnewman@campustimes.org.

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