Nutrition

Calorie Source

Alcohol itself is a source of calories. The number of calories in a drink is primarily determined by the alcohol content, rather than the amount of sugar that is added to the drink. That's because alcohol is more calorie dense than carbohydrates. 

Alcohol is a source of "empty calories," which means it is calorie dense but does not provide other nutrients, like vitamin and minerals. 

This table shows the relative number of calories (calories per gram) coming from each macro-nutrient group. 

One Gram (g) Calories
Carbohydrates 4
Protein 4
Alcohol 7
Fats 9

So which drinks should have the most calories? Drinks with high alcohol content, larger sizes, and additional sugar and syrup mixers. 

Calorie Content of Common Drinks

Normally, we don't think about food in terms of calories per gram. The table below reports the amount of calories in common drinks.  Note: Drink sizes do not necessarily represent Standard Servings

Calories Beers
64 Miller Genuine Draft 64 (12 oz)
95 Natural Light (12 oz)
99 Corona Light (12 oz)
110 Bud Light (12 oz)
116 Bud Light Lime (12 oz)
125 Yuengling Lager (12 oz)
150 Heineken (12 oz)
157 Natural Ice (12 oz)
170 Sam Adams Boston Lager (12 oz)
200 Sam Adams Winter Lager (12 oz)
231 Sierra Nevada India Pale Ale (12 oz)
   
Calories Malt Beverages
220 Mike's Hard Lemonade (12 oz)
220 Twisted Tea (12 oz)
228 Smirnoff Ice (12 oz)
229 Bacardi Silver Mojito (12 oz)
660 Four Loko (23.5 oz)
   
Calories Wine
105 Beringer White Zinfandel (5 oz)
100 Yellow Tail Shiraz (5 oz)
120 Sauvignon Blanc (5 oz)
   
Calories Mixed Drinks
409 Bahama Breeze Ultimate Pina Colada (12 oz)
400 Dirty Martini with Olives (6 oz)
425 White Russian (5 oz)
775 Applebee's Mud Slide
780 Long Island (8 oz)

Dehydration

Alcohol in the bloodstream causes the pituitary gland in the brain to block the creation of vasopressin. This causes the kidneys to send water directly to the bladder rather than reabsorbing filtered water into the bloodstream. This diuretic effect increases as the blood alcohol content increases, and can lead to dehydration - a contributing factor to hangovers. 

Studies have shown that drinking 250 mL of alcoholic beverage causes the body to expel between 800-1000 mL. This means that the body is releasing more than just the liquid being consumed. One way to decrease the effect is to keep your BAC low, and alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks (preferably water).