Just how many calories in vodka are there?

How many calories in vodka? Is your daily cocktail ruining your diet? Or does it actually help you lose weight? Is too much vodka destroying your liver, or is moderate alcohol consumption good for your heart? (Click here to read about alcohol and cholesterol). Is it okay to drink if you find low calorie mixers for vodka? There’s a lot of misinformation flying around out there regarding alcohol. Hopefully I can help clear some of it up.

The Basics

Let’s start with the basics. One shot of vodka, which is 1.5 fluid ounces or 42 grams, has about 100 calories. That’s for vodka that is 80-proof, which is what most vodkas are. Higher proof means higher alcohol, and more calories. Vodka that is 100-proof has about 125 calories per shot. But it’s still not a lot; it might only take you fifteen to twenty minutes of exercise to burn off a shot of vodka.

A hundred calories isn’t bad, really. You could have a drink or two every day and, at only 200 calories, that wouldn’t be enough to ruin your diet. You might want to remove 200 calories from some other source—for instance, saying no to the candy jar at work—and that would easily make up for two drinks a day. But the number of calories in vodka only tells part of the story.

But There's More...

On one hand, you need to think about the other effects of alcohol. Some people say it slows the metabolism by inhibiting testosterone, which has muscle-building and fat-burning properties. Alcohol has basically zero vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Also, keep in mind that when you’ve had a couple of drinks, your inhibitions are lowered and you’re more likely to binge on greasy sweet potato fries at the bar (or yams; what’s the difference?).

No Weight Gain?

However, there is data that suggests that the calories in vodka that you consume do not make you gain weight! In fact, some studies have shown that replacing food calories with alcohol can lead to decreased body weight. This is probably not healthy, especially if you’re drinking too much, but it is interesting to note. This may be because the calories in vodka (about 7 calories per gram, compared to 4 calories per gram in protein and carbohydrates and 9 calories per gram in fat) are processed by your liver before they are stored as fat.

What to Do?

Okay, that’s all well and good. So what are we to make of all this? There’s one more practical consideration to keep in mind, and that is this. How do you drink your vodka? Do you take shots of it straight-up? Most people drink vodka in a drink or cocktail. Mixers like soda, orange juice, and tonic water are high in sugar. It’s not just the calories in vodka you need to worry about; it’s all that sugar, which is a sneaky source of calories. As we’ve already seen, the effect of vodka itself on your diet is unclear. It might make you gain weight, or not. But if you drink a lot of alcohol mixed in sugary soda, rest assured: you will gain weight! The easy solution to this problem is to find low calorie mixers for vodka.

I’m not here to lecture you or tell you to stop drinking. Lord knows that would make me a hypocrite. But I’m also not here to tell you to simply ignore the calories in vodka drinks. I just want to make sure you have all the information so that you can enjoy a drink now and then without having to loosen your belt.