Liquid calories: Knowing what’s in your drink

Recently, the debate in New York City over large, sugary drinks – and the calories they contain – has been in the news and on many people’s minds. But there’s another source of liquid calories that adults should also be aware of – alcoholic beverages.


liquid-blog-updated-logoConsidering some fast-food places sell 32-ounce beverages, the consumer is looking at 270-310 calories for a non-diet soda.

One can look no further than the frozen margarita for the alcohol equivalent of the problem with serving size and portions. Four ounces of margarita contains 168 calories – consumers would be hard-pressed to find a margarita that contains less than 8 ounces (or 336 calories).

And after you’ve had a few drinks? The desire for salty foods increases, according to Baylor College of Medicine dietitian Molly Gee, and that can lead to overeating unhealthy foods on top of the liquid calories. In addition, Gee said, research shows that liquid calories don’t satisfy hunger cravings.

“With an alcoholic beverage you just swallow. You don’t chew and most of the time you feel good right away. And you don’t realize the calories you’ve had,” Gee said.

That might make the basket of free salty chips next to the schooner of margarita (typically 20 ounces, or 840 calories) tempting.

“It can be easy to go to happy hour and plan dinner afterwards – but you’ve already had your calories in the drinks and chips and beer nuts at the bar,” Gee said.

One way to cut back on the liquid calories is to consider light beers or light mixers, such as diet soda, tonic water or ginger ale during a night out.

Being aware of how much you’re drinking isn’t only good to prevent drunk driving – consumers should also be aware of what they’re drinking, especially this Nutrition Month.

-By Andy Phifer

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