For many people who are trying to watch their calorie intake or lose weight, choosing lower calorie alcoholic beverages can be an important strategy. Shots and other concentrated forms of alcohol tend to be higher in calories, so finding the lowest calorie options is key. This article will explore some of the lowest calorie shots available and provide tips for minimizing calories when drinking.
What are the lowest calorie straight/neat spirits?
When it comes to minimizing calories in alcohol, starting with lower calorie base spirits is crucial. Here are some of the most commonly available lowest calorie straight spirit options:
- Vodka – Vodka is one of the most popular lower calorie alcohol choices, with around 96 calories per 1.5 ounce shot.
- Gin – Like vodka, gin is relatively low in calories at about 97 calories per 1.5 ounce serving.
- Rum – Light or white rum contains around 97 calories per 1.5 ounce shot.
- Tequila – Most tequila contains 97 calories for a 1.5 ounce pour.
- Whiskey – Bourbon whiskey, rye whiskey, and Irish whiskey all contain roughly 97 calories per 1.5 ounce shot.
So all of these base spirits contain right around 100 calories or less per standard serving size. This makes them a solid starting point for creating lower calorie cocktails and shots.
What about additives like flavorings and sweeteners?
While straight spirits are the best baseline for lower calorie shots, many popular shot options include additional ingredients like flavorings and sweeteners that can add to the calorie count. Here’s how these additives impact calories:
- Flavorings – Things like lemon, lime, bitters, herbs, and other flavor additions contribute minimal or no calories.
- Sweeteners – Sugar syrups, honey, agave nectar and other sweeteners contain significant calories, so these should be avoided or minimized.
- Juices – Fruit juices like cranberry, orange and pineapple can have high calorie counts so juice-based shots may be higher in calories.
- Cream/dairy – Cream, milk, and other dairy ingredients add significant calories. Even small amounts in shots can increase the calorie count.
When it comes to determining the lowest calorie options, shots with no or minimal added sweeteners, juices and cream/dairy products will have the lowest calorie counts. Clear, distilled spirits based shots with herb, spice, bitters or citrus flavors tend to be optimal for minimizing calories.
What are some of the lowest calorie shot options?
Here is a comparison of some popular lower calorie shot options, assuming a 1.5 ounce serving size:
|Vodka lemon drop||100|
|Gin & tonic||100|
|Paloma (tequila grapefruit soda)||100|
|Mojito (rum lime mint soda)||120|
|Kamikaze (vodka triple sec lime)||140|
|Lemon drop martini||180|
|Washington apple (crown royal apple pucker schnapps)||195|
|Buttery nipple (butterscotch schnapps irish cream)||250|
|Jello shots (водка or rum gelatin)||60-100 per 1oz|
As you can see, the most straightforward distilled spirit mixed shots with citrus, bitters, soda or herb additions tend to be lowest at around 100 calories per serving. Once you add more sugary liqueurs, creamy additions and juice, the calories increase. Jello shots can also be a lower calorie option if made only with a base clear liquor and minimal sweeteners.
What about low-calorie/calorie-free “skinny” or diet mixer options?
Using lower calorie or zero calorie mixer options in shots can also help cut calories:
- Diet tonic or soda – Using zero calorie tonic, club soda or other diet soda options eliminate added calories from sugary regular sodas.
- Low-calorie juices – Opt for low-calorie cranberry or lemon/lime juice concentrate to minimize calories versus regular juices.
- Water – Adding water or sparkling water is an easy way to add volume with zero added calories.
- Sugar free sweeteners – Swapping simple syrup for sugar free sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit or erythritol can provide sweetness without added calories.
Substituting low-calorie or zero-calorie alternatives whenever possible allows you to create full-flavored, satisfying shots for the fewest calories.
What about the alcohol content? Does higher proof mean more calories?
Alcohol itself contains roughly 100 calories per ounce across all types of distilled spirits. So generally speaking, higher alcohol content or proof does directly translate to higher calorie counts.
However, when comparing shot options, the calorie contribution of additives tends to make a bigger impact than small variances in alcohol percentages. For example, an 80 proof vodka lemon drop at 1.5 ounces will be almost identical in calories to an 80 proof gin & tonic of the same size. But it will be notably lower than a 1.5 ounce lemon drop martini that has added sugar syrup.
As a rule of thumb, for the lowest calorie options focus first on minimizing additives over any small proof variances between base spirits.
What about low-calorie/low-carbohydrate beer or wine options?
While shots have been the focus up until this point, for those watching calories, low-calorie beer and wine can also be smart options in moderation. Here are some good choices:
- Light/low-calorie beer – Most light beers range from 64 to 100 calories for a 12oz serving.
- Low-carb beer – Low carbohydrate, low-calorie beer options like Michelob Ultra contain 95 calories per 12oz.
- Dry wine – Dry red and white wine varieties contain between 90-120 calories per 5oz glass.
- Low-calorie wine – Brands like Skinny Girl offer wines with as few as 85 calories per 5oz pour.
Choosing low-ABV session beers and wines, and using proper serving sizes can help minimize calorie intake from beer and wine.
What about making homemade lower calorie liquor infusions?
One creative way to enjoy flavorful low-calorie shots is to make your own custom infused liquors using fresh herbs, spices, citrus, berries and other fruits. Simply add your desired flavors to a base clear spirit like vodka, gin or rum, allow to infuse for a few days, then strain and use the infused liquor in shots and cocktails.
Some delicious and easy infusion combinations for lower calorie shots include:
- Lemon or lime vodka
- Basil or rosemary gin
- Jalapeño tequila
- Blackberry rum
- Cucumber vodka
- Ginger infused whiskey
Infusing your own liquor at home lets you control the ingredients and customize flavors to your taste while keeping calories low.
What are some tips for reducing calories in shots and mixers?
Here are some helpful tips for minimizing calories when making or ordering shots:
- Stick to low calorie base spirits like vodka, gin, rum, tequila and whiskey whenever possible.
- Avoid shots with added sugars and syrups. Opt for naturally sweet ingredients like fresh fruit.
- Skip the creamy liquors and sweet liqueurs if aiming for lowest calories.
- Ask for sodas, juices and any other mixer to be diet or low-calorie options.
- Skip salt or sugar on the rims of glasses.
- Use smaller shot glass sizes like 1oz instead of larger 1.5oz pours.
- Be aware that layered or bomb style shots combine multiple types of liqueurs and tend to be higher calorie.
- At bars, don’t be afraid to ask about lower calorie options or possible substitutions.
Being ingredient savvy and making the right substitutions whenever possible can make a big dent in your alcohol calorie intake.
Are there any special diets that allow for low-calorie drinking?
Two popular diet approaches that specifically make room for low-calorie drinking options are:
Ketogenic (keto) diets
Keto and other very low-carb diets focus on limiting sugar and carbohydrates to achieve a metabolic state of ketosis for fat burning. Clear spirits like vodka and tequila are inherently low-carb and can easily fit into a keto lifestyle. There are even special low-carb mixers and “keto cocktails” formulated to minimize carbs and calories from sugars.
Intermittent fasting involves condensing your food and calorie intake into specific windows during the day, leaving extended periods of fasting in between. Some intermittent fasters will include low-calorie alcoholic drinks like clear spirit shots during their “fasting” windows to help curb appetite while still minimizing calorie intake for weight loss or maintenance.
So both keto and intermittent fasting can build in room for low calorie shots and other drinks when prepared properly. Just be sure to account for the alcohol calories accordingly.
Are there any health risks associated with low-calorie shots?
While limiting alcohol calories can aid weight goals, there are some potential downsides to consider:
- Higher alcohol concentration – Shots provide a concentrated dose of alcohol very quickly, which can lead to intoxication and related risks.
- Lack of feeling full – The lack of carbs, sugar and calories may allow you to consume more alcohol than intended.
- Mixing with diet soda – Combining alcohol with low-calorie sweeteners may impair judgment around intake.
- Interfering with diet goals – The alcohol itself provides “empty” calories with no nutrition, so overdoing it counteracts nutrition and weight loss goals.
Moderation and mindfulness of both alcohol content and calorie amounts is key if opting for low-calorie shots and mixers.
Paying attention to calories when drinking alcohol can make a meaningful difference in daily intake, especially for those aiming to lose weight or improve health. Clear, distilled spirits like vodka, gin and tequila served straight up or made into simple mixed shots with additions like citrus, herbs and low-calorie soda or juice offer the lowest calorie options, ranging from around 100 calories per 1 to 1.5 ounce serving. While no alcoholic drink is truly “healthy”, being calorie-conscious when drinking can help you stay on track with your wellness goals in moderation. Just be wary of overconsuming low-calorie cocktails or shots since the lower calorie count can be misleading – the metabolizing of alcohol itself still places demands on your system. Moderation and mindfulness are key when drinking low-calorie shots or any other alcoholic beverages.