There are a million opinions on how alcohol fits into a healthy lifestyle and I’m not here to give you the perfect answer. I am, however, going to tell you how I fit alcohol into my lifestyle in a way that works with counting macros!
First of all, living a healthy lifestyle does NOT mean you can never have a drink again. It doesn’t mean you can’t have 6 in one night every once in a while. It’s about balance! I’m the first one to tell you I love a night of cutting loose with my buddy Jose. Alcohol, of course, has it’s down sides but if it is a part of your lifestyle that you enjoy, I say CHEERS! With that being said, here are a few fun facts about alcohol labeling and macro counting tips when it comes to alcohol.
First of all, here’s a couple fun facts about alcohol and nutrition information
- The FDA does not regulate alcohol labeling which is why you will see nutrition labels missing from most forms of alcohol (primarily wine & liquor).
- You’ll usually find the nutrition facts on bottled or canned beer, cider, and selzer but rarely on other forms of alcohol. If you are curious, you can likely hop online or find a QR code on the label that will lead you to nurtition facts. They are becoming more present on packaging by the day but still aren’t regulated or required!
- When a nutrition label is present, the calories you’ll find at the top will not align with the macros you see below.
- Let’s take a White Claw for example. 100 Calories but the only macronutrient calories on the label are 2 grams of carbs. With carbs containing 4 calories each, that makes the drink seem to be a mere 8 cals! What’s not there is the alcohol which comes with about 7 calories per gram. Those are what make up the rest of the calories you see at the top of the label.
So as far as the technicals of tracking alcohol while counting macros goes – it’s pretty easy but strays from the simple scan or search and add. When you search and add an alcoholic beverage to your tracking app, it is likely going to pull the numbers right off of the label for the product. But, as I shared above, the alcohol calories aren’t in there! So… we have to create a food ourselves.
You’ve got 2 options –
Log as fats: Total Cals/9 = fat grams to log
Log as carbs: Total Cals/4 = carb grams to log
A couple assumptions you can use when tracking:
- Liquor can be generalized to be around 100 calories per shot. There are, of course, some that run a bit higher or lower but not by more than 10-20 calories.
- Craft beers are generally higher calorie
- Light beer labels can be deceiving! Ignore the “net carb” number advertised if you’re counting and take a look at the overall calorie number.
If you’re adding a drink that you have often, save it as one of your foods for easy add next time! I keep my go to’s: Cider and Tequila/Water stored for use as carbs as well as for use as fats so that I can easily add based on where my day is!