Food Fight: Beer vs. Liquor

Labor Day is around the corner—should you grab an ice cold beer or choose a spirits-filled cocktail? This battle is a tricky one…

Labor Day is around the corner—should you grab an ice-cold beer or choose a spirits-filled cocktail? This battle is a tricky one…

Beer

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for men. For beer, a “drink” is defined as a 12-fluid ounce bottle. Moderate alcohol consumption (as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines) can help reduce your risk of heart disease, reduce the risk of stroke, and lower the risk of gall stones.

The calories in a 12-fluid ounce bottle of regular beer vary from around 150 to 300. Lighter varieties usually run around 100 calories for 12-fluid ounces  and are widely available in bars, restaurants and retail markets.  However many bars offer pints (equivalent to 16-fluid ounces) with around 200 to 400 calories each.

If you’re looking for nutritional goodness, dark beer is the way to go. A 2011 study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that dark beers have more iron than both pale and non-alcoholic beer.

See the results of our light beer taste test.
Liquor

Liquor or spirits is your vodka, gin, rum, tequila, and other “hard” alcohol. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, one serving is considered 1.5 fluid ounces of an 80-proof liquor like rum or vodka. For 100-proof spirits, the serving is 1-fluid ounce. This will run you about 100 calories.

Liquor is used to make a variety of yummy cocktails—that’s where calories can get out of control. Combined with sugary mixers and regular soda or juice, they can run up to and above 500 calories each! Oftentimes, they contain more than one or two “servings” of liquor. It’s also easier to over-pour one serving, unless you use a jigger to measure.

Healthy Eats Winner: Beer takes the trophy for this food fight – it’s just easier to control calories. Unless you can enjoy liquor mixed with a non-calorie beverage (like seltzer) or over ice (love my whiskey on the rocks!) it’s just too easy to go overboard in those mixed cocktails.

TELL US: Who gets your vote: beer or liquor?
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