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How Many Calories in my Drink?

If you watch any television at all, and especially sports, then by now you are no doubt aware of the battle for king of the low calorie brews. More like an all out war. I have to confess, I’m going from memory here, but I’m pretty sure Michelob Ultra started this fight with a commercial showing a man and women office worker who meet at lunch time to change out of their suits into running clothes. They race all through the city only to finish off on the roof of a skyscraper to slug down a couple of ice cold beers at the end of their grueling workout. Gatorade, eat your heart out.

Just like “8 Minute Abs” was taken down a notch by “7 Minute Abs”, and the Schick Quattro (razor blade with only 4 pathetic blades) was bested by Gillette’s 5 bladed miracle, the other beer makers would not stand by and give up their share of the market for people who would prefer to get drunk on a treadmill. Why limit yourself to people who get drunk while watching basketball, when you could get the people who get drunk while playing basketball? (Softball flashbacks anyone?)

Enter M64. Michelob’s answer with 64 calories. This, of course, was only temporary, as Budweiser Select 55 showed up with 55 calories.

How did they do it you ask? If you think it was by magically reducing the amount of carbs in the beer, then you would be wrong. By their advertising, you can tell that they would have you think that, but a closer look shows what would be immediately obvious to any decent health professional.

What most people don’t realize is that alcohol has calories. Alcohol is not a carb, it is alcohol. Most people are educated enough to know that protein and carbs have about 4 calories per gram, and fat has about 9 calories per gram, but most do not realize that alcohol has about 7 calories per gram. This is all alcohol.

The average beer has between 4 and 5 percent alcohol, but not these special low calorie beers. Michelob Ultra, with 95 calories, is 4.1% alcohol by volume, while M64 is only 2.8%, and Budweiser Select 55 is only 2.2%. In other words, it’s quite simple to drop the amount of calories in beer. All you need to do is drop the alcohol.

It works the same way with liquor of course. A 1.5 oz. shot of 80 proof alcohol, like rum or vodka has about 97 calories, while 90 proof has 110, and 100 proof has about 124 calories.

I’m not going to post a chart with the calorie content of different beers or liquors, because that’s really not the point of this post. The point is really just to make sure anybody reading it learns 4 things.

  1. Alcohol is not a carbohydrate
  2. Alcohol has about 7 calories per gram
  3. Manufacturers and distributers magically lower the calorie content of drinks by lowering the alcohol content, but then advertise those drinks to make it seem like it has more to do with reduced carbs.
  4. These types of things are why people who are interested in their health should consult with actual health professionals.

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