A struggle all too familiar to college kids – staying fit with an active party life seems to be the most impossible of ‘catch 22s.’ There’s nothing worse than making gains at the gym one day just to waste them away on some high calorie cocktails that night. But what if you could get tipsy and look terrific too? With the help of some low calorie drinks and the right motivation, this fantasy could become a reality.

Step one is to know the facts; see what your standard drink looks like calorie-wise. Step two is to master the art of low-calorie drinking. But don’t fret, I’ve done the dirty work for you. With this cheat sheet, kicking back at the bar no longer has to break the scale.

Step One: Know The Facts

alcohol, liquor, wine, beer
Shelby Cohron

Red, White and Rose

Pinkies up, everyone. Minus the calories of complimentary cheese and chocolate, a 6 oz. glass of wine is roughly 120 calories with slight variations between each type and brand.


Don't be too upset if it’s sprayed rather than poured. Just one 6 oz. flute of champagne is roughly 160 calories.


Whether you’re drinking Bud on frat row or craft beer downtown, the average 12 oz. brew-ski will cost you about 150 calories. Slightly less, a light beer is only 100.

pumpkin, stout, lager, alcohol, liquor, ale, beer
Shelby Cohron


From vodka and gin to rum and tequila, a standard size of any 80 proof liquor is 100 calories. However, the same cannot be said for the variety of mixers and liqueurs sitting just behind the bar. To compare some commonly ordered cocktails: a Rum and Coke is 182 calories, a Vodka Cranberry is 172 calories, a Long Island is 275 calories, a Gin and Tonic is 178 calories and a Whiskey Sour is 175 calories.

Step Two: Master the Art

Sure, Becky can do a 20-second keg stand and Jim can shotgun in five, but you’ll beat the freshman fifteen and graduate without a beer belly. Now that’s the real party trick. Here’s how –

You know the facts, now pick your tricks. As a general rule, know that the higher the ABV, or alcohol by volume, the more kick you’ll get for your calories. If you’re drinking to let loose this may play a factor, making a higher calorie drink still worth it compared to a weaker, yet lower calorie one. Now pick your poison.

For our wine-enthusiasts, if you drink white you’re in luck. Generally, white wines are lower in calories than reds, roses and champagnes, but not by much. Two much stronger factors lie in a bottle’s ABV and origin. Because the calories in alcohol exceed the calories in sugar, the lower a wine’s ABV – the less calories it has.

Reasonably then, European wineries, which enforce lower ABV, produce lower calorie wines than other regions. But, if you prefer a ‘cold one’ over a glass of red – you haven't been forgotten.

To refute popular myth, avoiding beer is not the end-all secret to low calorie drinking. In fact, drinking four light beers would actually save you more calories than drinking four mix drinks made with any kind of 80 proof liquor.

So what’s the catch? Not all brew-skis are light, or low-cal. Generally, calories increase alongside quality and flavor. For example, Busch and Natty are around 95 calories a can, Corona and Bud are at 110, and Blue Moon skyrockets to about 160. So, it’s also not to say that drinking beer is the end-all secret either.

If you’re drinking on the rocks, here’s how to keep your diet on the rails. As we’ve seen – cocktails are the culprits, not the liquors. But if you’re mindful and swap sugary mixers for tasty substitutes, you can save hundreds of calories.

Substituting soda or tonic for club soda, with a lime or two, will cut a 180-200 calorie drink to around 110. If you’re a die-hard Vodka Cran drinker, try a vodka water with a splash of Mio or a flavored vodka with club soda. You’ll preserve the fruity tang and lose half the calories.

For our rum runners, there’s always a Rum and Diet Coke, but a Mojito with club soda will also do the trick. For those loyal ‘Long Islanders,’ you can cut your 300 calorie drink in thirds with a Tequila Soda and lime, or a Rum and lemon Crystal Light.

And still, if you can’t come to sacrifice your go-to Cosmo or must-have Marg, you can always compensate those calories by consuming less or burning more. Now you're ready. Step one – check. Step two – check. Step three: Midtown is going down. Cheers to that.