When you think of summer, you might think of rooftop season, patio season, happy hour season, summer barbecue season, baseball season, rosé all day season, summer Friday season, vacation season—you get it. If reading through that list made you think, “Wow, summer is peak drinking season,” you’re not alone.
Although some of us may consume alcoholic beverages year-round, not just in the summer (think tailgate and football season, Oktoberfest, ugly sweater party season), the amount of calories in alcoholic beverages doesn’t change like the seasons do—as much as we wish they did.
Regardless of season and personal preference, we’re #blessed to have so many health conscious options when it comes to choosing alcoholic beverages. From wine to beer and tequila to vodka, we wanted to learn more about which drinks contain the least amount of calories so you can feel less guilty skipping a workout and heading to happy hour.
To learn more, we talked to Tracy Lockwood, celebrity registered dietitian in New York City and founder of Tracy Lockwood Nutrition. Here are the drinks she says are the best when it comes to watching calories, and here’s what she has to say about popular alcoholic drinks:
“Generally speaking, red wine has taken the gold medal as far as heart health goes due to its antioxidant content,” says Lockwood. “However, we should also be aware of the calorie and sugar content of the wine we are consuming, which might lead us to choosing a white wine.”
Lockwood suggests that a light, white wine can have a lower alcohol content, therefore has fewer overall calories, coming out to about 140 per glass. For comparison, “heavy red wines such as pinot noir, can have up to 200 calories per glass,” she adds.
To minimize red wine calorie intake, “when picking wine, generally the drier and the bigger flavor the better, which usually implies a lower caloric content and sugar level,” Lockwood says.
Outside of this general red-white rule, here are a few wine brands Lockwood loves that can help simplify the process for you:
Bellissima: “This is a Prosecco created by CoverGirl spokeswoman Christie Brinkley. All of their products are 100% organic and they have one by the name of zero sugar sparkling wine, which contains zero sugar and zero carbs,” says Lockwood. Win-win!
Skinny Girl Cocktails: You may have heard about this company, which was created by Real Housewives of NYC’s own Bethenny Frankel. While Skinny Girl offers an option for nearly every cocktail known, according to Lockwood, they also have a wine line where the pinot noir only weighs in at about 100 calories per glass.
FitVine: According to Lockwood, FitVine understands that drinking wine should be fun, but knows that the next day sometimes needs to be productive (aka sans hangover). “FitVine performs a dry fermentation process with no residual sugar levels, so that the only sugar in the wine is what is naturally found in the alcohol, about 0.2 grams per glass!”
Beer is a tough one. Either you love it or you hate it. Very rarely is someone in-between. Whether you’re a true beer drinking or only drinking it because “it’s what’s here,” Lockwood says, “light beer is always going to be your friend.”
If you’re just sipping, “choose a beer that has a very low alcoholic content and the calories could be as low as 60 calories,” she says. “However, if you are looking for a higher alcoholic content, the calories unfortunately come along with it.”
Keep in mind, if slimming down is one of your goals, beer might not be the best option for you. “One single beer can total to about seven slices of bread,” warns Lockwood. “If beer truly is your drink of choice, lean toward beers like Miller light, Natural light, Michelob ULTRA or Corona light for the lowest calorie and carb content.”
It might be hard to gulp down, but hard liquor might be a better choice over those high caloric beers, especially when you are looking to get a little fancy for fewer calories, says Lockwood.
No matter what your liquor of choice is—gin, vodka, rum, scotch or whiskey—at 80 proof, these all come in at about 64 calories an ounce. If you’re really trying to keep your calorie intake to a minimum, “on the rocks might be your best choice. “Harsh, I know,” says Lockwood. If you’re looking for something a little more enjoyable but still low in calories, seltzer or club soda can be a great choice. “Add a little lemon, lime or even the juice of your favorite fruit to spice it up,” Lockwood suggests
You can also check out these hacks to make your favorite cocktail healthier. Cheers!