How to Track Alcohol Macros

Six friends toasting with alcoholic beverages

Tracking macronutrients is something that people do for a variety of reasons. They may do it because they want to lose weight or because they’re training for an athletic event. People who have diabetes must track their macros, too, particularly carbohydrates and sugars.

While most of the things we eat or drink are easy to quantify in terms of their nutrients, alcohol is an exception. While some alcoholic beverages obviously contain carbs–think beer or a sweet mixed drink with added sugar–others fall into a gray area. 

Understanding how to track alcohol macros is a must for anybody who tracks macros and consumes alcohol.

What Are Macronutrients?

What is a macronutrient and why should you track your intake of macronutrients? By definition, a macronutrient is a nutrient that your body needs in large quantities. The three macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Here are the caloric breakdowns for the three main macronutrients.

  • One gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
  • One gram of protein = 4 calories
  • One gram of fat = 9 calories

You can see that fat is more than twice as calorically dense as protein or carbohydrates.

Macronutrients typically contain micronutrients, which most people know as vitamins and minerals. These are required in smaller quantities than macronutrients. Tracking macronutrients can ensure that people eat a balanced diet and may also be useful in improving athletic performance and managing chronic health conditions.

How Do You Count Alcohol in Macros?

The question of how to count alcohol macros is one that often comes up when people start tracking their macros. When it comes to tracking macros alcohol is an exception because it doesn’t always fall into the three main categories of macronutrients.

The thing that makes tracking macros in alcohol tricky is that alcohol falls between carbohydrates and fat in terms of its calories, with seven calories per gram of alcohol. (Note that this calorie count does not take mixers into consideration–mixers may include fat or sugar and should be counted accordingly.)

How to Calculate Macros in Alcohol

According to Men’s Journal, there is an easy formula to use to incorporate alcohol intake into macro tracking. Alcohol macros may be counted toward your carb macro or your protein macro, and you can use this formulas.

Calories in your drink/calories in 1 gram of carbs or fat

For example, a 12-ounce serving of Corona beer has 148 calories. To count the macros as carbs, you would divide 148 by 4 to get 37 grams of carbs. To count it as fat, you would divide 148 by 9 to get 16.4 grams of fat.

Bottle of Corona beer on a beach

Should You Count Alcohol Macros as Carbs or Fat?

Because alcohol macros can be tracked as carbs or fats, it’s important to know which option to choose. For some, it may not matter.

For people on a low-carbohydrate diet, it may be preferable to track alcohol macros as fat to leave room for healthy carbs in their daily diet. For those on a high-carb/low-fat diet, it makes more sense to track alcohol macros as carbs.

Macro Friendly Alcohol

Pure forms of alcohol, including vodka, gin, whiskey, and bourbon, have seven calories per gram but do not contain carbohydrates or fats. They have no real nutritional value but they halt the body’s fat-burning ability in the same way that carbs do. 

Adding a mixer to alcohol may impact its macros or it may not. Adding Diet Coke to rum doesn’t add calories; adding regular Coke adds a significant number of carbs.

Low Macro Alcoholic Beverages

People who want to consume alcohol can minimize the alcohol’s effect on their macros by choosing low-macro options. Straight liquor is a low macro option, but there are others as well.

Macro Friendly Wine

Most wine has between 120 and 160 calories in a five-ounce glass. The sugar content is no surprise considering that wine is made from grapes, a high-sugar fruit. Here are some options that fall toward the low end of the caloric spectrum.

  • Dry red wines: Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Dry white wines: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Viognier
  • Dry sparkling wines: Brut or Extra Brut

Choosing a wine that isn’t dry can add 40-50 calories to each glass.

Macro Friendly Beer

Like wine, beer contains carbohydrates that add to its calorie count. The calories in beer vary depending on the brewing process and type of beer, with the average being about 150 calories per 12-ounce serving. (Keep in mind that a pint is 16 ounces and will have more calories.)

The best option for those who are counting macros is to go for a light beer. Light beers include lagers and ales. There are also stouts, sours, and gluten-free beers that have light options. 

Tracking Alcohol Macros Keeps Your Diet on Track

Knowing how to track alcohol macros means being able to enjoy an occasional alcoholic beverage without losing track of your weight loss, fitness, or health goals. You have the option to track alcohol macros as carbohydrates or fats, and choosing low-macro alcoholic beverages is the best option to avoid overdoing it.

This entry was posted in Health, Lifestyle, Wellness and tagged , , , . By Aimee Parrott