When we think of the heaven of carbohydrates, we imagine flaky croissants, decadent cupcakes, artisanal bread, baked potatoes drooling with cheese, and perfectly al dente pasta.
(BRB, we’re making our way to the carbohydrate load.)
(OK, we’re back.)
Our point is that alcohol doesn’t seem to be registering on our carbohydrate radar. And that makes sense when you are talking about hard alcohol that is carb-free until you add mixers and liquors.
Beer, wine, cider and malt beverages vary greatly in their carbohydrate content. We did some research and put together a guide to the carbohydrates in your alcohol.
The dietary guidelines for Americans recommend that we consume at least 1
For example, a young man might have a minimum caloric intake of 2,400 to 3,000 calories. With a carbohydrate intake of 45 percent, you would need 270 to 337 grams of carbohydrates per day. At 65 percent, they could consume 390 to 487 grams.
Following a low-carb diet should help you figure out how many naughty drops you can fit in while you can still eat.
But it’s hard to compare alcoholic beverages. Official nutritional information is not always available, and not all beers are created equal, so the number of carbohydrates can vary between brands.
Plus, there are different drinks in different serving sizes – and to be honest, you barely measure accurately while helping yourself at a house party.
But we kept it as up-to-date as possible, using the USDA’s food bible, FoodData Central.
The carbonated staple of family barbecues and game days can be a carbohydrate city, although many “light” varieties lower carbohydrates significantly.
But “light” can have different meanings – low in calories, low in alcohol or low in carbohydrates. So check the label to make sure you don’t accidentally exceed your daily carbohydrate count. (We have a full guide to lighting beer in case you’re in the IPA aisle and feeling more than a little confused.)
Some beers are easier to pigeonhole than others in terms of carbohydrate counts. Here’s a rundown of what high-carb beers can be like (per 12 fl oz bottle):
IPAs are hard to generalize in terms of the number of carbohydrates. They come from so many independent breweries (that’s why hipsters love them).
Many brands contain 10 to 20 grams of carbohydrates per bottle. However, some IPAs come in dainty little soda cans, and some contain added flavoring, sugar, and honey, which can increase carbohydrate counts over 20 grams.
If you’re looking for a surefire, low-carb option, Miller Lite has 3.2 grams of carbohydrates. However, moderation is still key – drinking a whole box of these bad guys is going to hit your daily carb limit significantly.
Wine plays more than a supportive role in the Mediterranean diet, one of our most popular eating plans (who doesn’t like an excuse to eat more olives?). And red wine can even have health benefits for your heart.
Overall, it’s also much easier for the carbohydrates than it is for beer, but there is far less variation in the number of carbohydrates of different types.
It might also look like wine has a lot fewer carbohydrates than beer, but these numbers are based on a standard serving size. A typical glass of wine is only 5 fluid ounces – much less than the 12 ounces in a typical bottle of beer.
Sweeter wines contain more sugar, so the carbohydrate number is slightly higher. Dry wines are the way to go if you’re looking for a nifty drop while keeping an eye on carbohydrate intake.
Liquor is the source of many misplaced house keys and bad decisions. They’re virtually carbohydrate-free – until they hit their blenders.
Fruit juices can be surprisingly high in carbohydrates – 27.4 grams in a cup of orange juice is pretty shocking. Even tonic water contains 32.2 grams of carbohydrates the same size as a regular beer.
Less sugar and less carbohydrate blenders are available to reduce the carbohydrate effect of a mixed drink.
A night of decent shots might not be the smartest decision when it comes to holding your head. So it’s worth chasing a couple of lower-carb mixers to help mitigate the effects of the juicy material.
If you’re keeping an eye on your carbs, it might be a good idea to skip creme de menthe, amaretto, and sambuca, which usually contain more than 15 grams of carbs per shot.
Liqueur lovers should opt for Irish Cream, Kirsch, or Orange Liqueur if they’re looking for a sweeter shot. While 10 grams of carbohydrates per shot is still a fairly heavy load of carbohydrates, it will devour less of your recommended daily allowance.
Ultimately, choosing a low-carb beer or dry wine as a tip will have less of an impact on your carbohydrate count.
Given the confusing selection of wines, beers, and spirits to choose from, it’s always best to check the nutrition label of the blender you choose, or search online for nutrition information for the beer or wine (as not many alcohol labels have this information).
If you drink responsibly and in moderation, indulging in some alcohol that you like can go a long way.
So, if you are going to a party and want to drink alcohol, perhaps you should have a less high-carb lunch or dinner. Here are a few options you can try.