Short answer: There are about 105 calories and 0 grams of carbohydrates in a single shot of whiskey (44 ml or 1.5 oz of 86 proof whiskey). However, the way you drink your whiskey makes a huge difference. Read on to find out more…
Counting calories is one of the best ways to lose weight. You begin by counting how many calories you are consuming each day in your food and drink. Then, you subtract how many calories your body is burning through its normal biological processes and the exercise you are performing each day.
If you get a negative number, that means you are in a caloric deficit and your body will resort to burning fat to obtain more energy. As a result, you will lose weight. Simple right?
Well, the only tricky part is determining how many calories are in the food and drink you are consuming.
If you are a keen whiskey drinker and have just started counting calories, your thoughts will immediately turn to whiskey. Will drinking whiskey sabotage your weight loss efforts?
Let’s take a look at how much our favorite tipple will impact our attempts at weight loss.
What are Calories and Carbohydrates?
Before I delve into more detail about the quantities of calories and carbs in whiskey, let’s define what they actually mean.
Carbohydrates are one of the three major food groups — the other two being protein and fats. The body needs carbohydrates for energy. Fortunately, it’s simple to get enough carbohydrates in your diet as they are in all fruits, vegetables, bread and other grain products, sugar, and sugary foods.
There are several forms of carbohydrates in three categories:
- Sugars – Easy to digest “simple” carbohydrates found in foods like fruit, honey, dairy food, sugar cane, honey, and malted grains. These foods can quickly be converted to energy.
- Starches – Slightly harder to digest “complex” carbohydrates found in foods like wheat, grains, potatoes, rice, legumes, and nuts.
- Dietary fiber – A carbohydrate that cannot be fully broken down by the enzymes in the human body. Found in many wholegrain foods, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
Although whiskey is made using grains, it has been distilled, so the level of carbohydrates it obtains is extremely low (to the point of being negligible).
Calories represent the amount of energy that the human body obtains from a specific food. Most adults need to obtain about 2,000 calories a day from the food they eat, although this can be reduced when attempting to reach a caloric deficit. There are:
- 4 calories per gram of carbohydrates
- 4 calories per gram of protein
- 9 calories per gram of fat
When attempting to lose weight, you can either count the number of grams of carbs/protein/fat you are eating or the number of calories you eat.
This great article from Healthline has some great information on calorie vs carb counting.
There are articles with more details on what calories are here and what carbohydrates are here.
How Many Carbs and Calories are in Whiskey?
A single shot of straight 86 proof whiskey (44 ml or 1.5 oz) will contain approximately:
- Calories: 105 (Varies based on strength of spirit)
- Grams of protein: 0
- Grams of Carbohydrate: 0
- Grams of Fat: 0
- Grams of Fibre: 0
- Grams of Alcohol: 14 (Varies based on strength go spirit)
Straight whiskey will only have trace amounts of carbohydrates, no protein and no fat. If it has no carbs/protein/fat, where do the calories come from?
The answer is the alcohol.
Pure alcohol contains about 7 calories per gram, which means the number of calories in a shot of whiskey will be related to its alcoholic strength. So, a shot of:
- 80 proof whiskey (40 percent alcohol) will contain 96 calories
- 90 proof whiskey (45 percent alcohol) will contain 110 calories
- 100 proof whiskey (50 percent alcohol) will contain 124 calories
Can You Drink Whiskey When Attempting to Lose Weight?
Absolutely! However, you will need to be careful about “how” you consume your whiskey. While a shot of straight whiskey or a glass of whiskey and water doesn’t contain a large number of calories, other mixers might.
If you mix your shot of whiskey with some Coca Cola, suddenly you are consuming an additional 150 calories from about 39 grams of carbohydrate. Drinking a Coke and Whiskey contains about the same number of calories as a Mars Bar (I know I’d prefer the whiskey over the Mars bar).
It’s also important to be aware that alcohol consumption changes how the body processes food. Scientists have discovered that alcohol consumption will slow down the oxidation of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. In other words, it slows down how quickly your body is using energy and burning fat, which may be an issue if you are trying to lose weight in a hurry.