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If I'm going to drink, what's the healthiest booze?

The question

I know all alcohol is bad from a health perspective but is one type of alcohol preferred over the other in terms of weight loss? I have a very weight conscious friend who's always drinking vodka sodas.

The answer

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The calories in alcoholic beverages come from alcohol, which contributes 7 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram of protein and carbohydrate. Every 5-ounce glass of wine, 1.5 ounces of hard liquor or 12-ounce bottle of light beer has roughly 100 calories (regular beer delivers 150 calories per 12-ounce serving).

Unlike dry wine and spirits, beer contains calories from alcohol and carbohydrate.

Many coolers – sugary beverages made mainly with vodka or rum - deliver at least 250 calories per 355 ml serving, more calories than you'd consume in two bottles of light beer. Some have as many as 310 calories and eight teaspoons of sugar per serving.

That's fine if you're having only one, but if you drink a few you could be gulping down more calories than your dinner.

And that certainly won't help weight loss efforts. Here's a look at how different drinks stack up in terms of calories:

Beer, regular (355 ml) 150

Beer, light (355 ml) 95 to 100

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Rum and Coke (7.5 oz) 170

Screwdriver, (7 oz) 175

Cosmopolitan 150

Vodka & Soda 76

Vodka cooler (355 ml) 250 to 370

Vodka cooler, light, (355 ml) 85 to 155

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Wine, red or white (5 oz) 105

Wine spritzer with soda (5 oz) 50

Here are a few more tips to help you keep your alcohol calories in check this summer.

• Eat before you drink. If you drink on an empty stomach, the alcohol will be absorbed in your bloodstream faster, making you more apt to overeat.

• Dilute the calories. Choose cocktails like vodka and soda, rum and diet Coke, or a white wine spritzer.

• Limit yourself to no more than one drink per hour. Drinking more often will result in a higher blood alcohol concentration, not to mention a weaker resolve to eat moderately. To slow your pace, drink two glasses of water between alcoholic drinks.

Send dietitian Leslie Beck your questions at She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

Read more Q&As from Leslie Beck.

Click here to see Q&As from all of our health experts.

The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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