How to Track Alcohol Macros: A Simple Guide

By Tami Smith

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By now, you’re already aware of the three essential macronutrients; protein, carbs, and fats. What you might not be aware of is that there is technically a fourth macro and it's alcohol.

That’s right, alcohol is considered a macronutrient, however, it’s a non-essential one. This means that it provides energy in the form of calories, but it’s not necessary for sustaining life. 

Tracking macros is all about promoting sustainability and enjoyment, never having to eliminate any one food or food group. The same applies to alcohol. You don’t need to completely eliminate it when tracking macros, but understanding how to do so properly will be key for your success if you do decide to add alcohol to your diet.

Alcohol isn’t as straightforward to track as the other three macros are, and the nutrition labels on alcoholic drinks are not accurate for macro tracking purposes, which is why this article is all about how to track alcohol macros so that you can keep your nutrition accurate and in-check.

Simple Resource of Tracking Alcohol Macros

Alcohol

QTY

Cal

Tracked as Carbs

Tracked as Fat

Beer

12 oz

154

39g

17g

Light Beer

12 oz

104

26g

12g

Red Wine

5 oz

125

31g

14g

White Wine

5 oz

120

30g

13g

Cider

12 oz

175

44g

19g

Bourbon

1 oz

64

16g

7g

Gin

1 oz

73

18g

8g

Rum

1 oz

64

16g

7g

Scotch

1 oz

64

16g

7g

Tequila

1 oz

69

17g

8g

Whiskey

1 oz

70

18g

8g

Vodka

1 oz

64

16g

7g

How Many Calories/Gram Is Alcohol Worth?

cheers beers alcohol macros

Calorically speaking, alcohol contains 7 calories per 1 gram. If you read our summary of calories vs macros, then you know that the three main macros are broken down into the following:

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

Unfortunately, when we scan the barcodes of alcohol into macro tracking apps like My Fitness Pal or the 1st Phorm App, the scans are not reliable as the calories in pure alcohol are not classified as protein, carbs, or fats. Since there is no designated macro for alcohol, they don’t assign those calories to anything. This is why we must track alcohol ourselves, and we can track it as either carbs or fats.

How to Track 

pouring red wine alcohol macros

When tracking alcohol macros you may enter your drinks into your app or hand log them by choosing to delegate them to either carbs OR fats OR a mixture of both. The best way to explain this is to show you an example of how this would work.

So, let’s use the example of a 5 oz. glass of red wine which contains roughly 125 calories. You have the following three options to track this glass of wine:

  • Tracking as carbs: 125 calories / 4 = 31.2 g carbs
  • Tracking as fat: 125 calories / 9 = 13.8 g fat 
  • Tracking as both: 62.5 / 4 = 15.6 g carbs
    •  62.5 / 9 = 6.9 g fat

The ability to track alcohol in a variety of ways will help you to fit a drink or two into your plan much easier. For example, if you’re low on fats one day, you might decide to use them for alcohol. On another day, you might be low in carbs and decide to go that route. Regardless, the most important thing is that you are actually tracking your alcohol macros correctly and not just scanning the barcode from your drink as it won’t accurately account for your macros.

Macro-Friendly Drinks

It’s a common misconception that you can’t drink alcohol when tracking macros, however, that’s of course not the case. With macros, there is nothing off-limits, however, they are certainly some alcoholic beverages that are more macro-friendly than some others.

Here are a few ways to improve the macro-friendliness of your drinks:

  • Choose zero-calorie mixers - Seltzer, sparkling water, or just plain water contains zero calories and none of the sugar and junk that comes with traditional mixers. 
  • Choose a light beer or low-calorie option - Don’t go for the full-bodied lagers and frozen drinks as these are loaded with extra calories.
  • Choose clear liquors - In general, clear liquors vs brown liquors are significantly less calorie-dense.
  • Choose a larger cup - Pouring the same amount of alcohol into a larger cup with more of your mixer can allow you to sip on your drink and make it last longer without adding any additional calories.
  • Alternate your drinks with water - To help avoid drinking too many drinks, try alternating your consumption with a glass of water or a diet soda in between.

Best Macro-Friendly Alcoholic Beverages

beer macros and alcohol

If you’re tracking your macros and still like to enjoy a drink or two on occasions, it’s nice to know which choices are the most macro-friendly so you can get the most out of your macros. Below are a few great choices:

Hard Seltzers

You can throw a rock in the grocery store without hitting a case of hard seltzers these days, they’re everywhere! With only around 100 calories per can and some delicious flavors, it’s safe to say that seltzers are here to stay.

Example Macros for one 12-oz can: 100 calories / 25g carbs / 0g protein / 0g fat

Vodka Tonic (Diet)

Diet tonic waters are calorie-free and vodka is a classic choice for mixed drinks. A splash of vodka is around 64 calories, making this one of the best alcoholic drinks for your macros.

Example Macros for a single: 64 calories / 16g carbs / 0g protein / 0g fat

Rum and Diet Coke

Vodka not your thing? No worries, you can enjoy a classic rum and diet coke for similar macros.

Example Macros for a single: 64 calories / 16g carbs / 0g protein / 0g fat

Skinny Margarita

Margaritas are traditionally very calorically expensive thanks to the copious amount of mixers and simple syrup (sugar) added to them. However, you can still enjoy that margarita flavor without all the calories if you choose a skinny margarita which usually contains more lime and/or orange juice and something like agave syrup. 

Example Macros for 1 drink: 166 calories / 41g carbs / 0.5g protein / 0g fat

Light Beer

Choosing a light beer over a lager or regular beer can save you plenty of calories but still give you the crisp, refreshing taste you’re looking for. 

Example Macros for 1 light beer: 104 calories / 26g carbs / 0g protein / 0g fat

Final Thoughts on How to Track Alcohol Macros

Nutrition labels can be very deceiving, but once you have a knowledge base of macros and how to track them, it’s easy to understand that the calories in your alcoholic drink need to be tracked appropriately for accurate reporting.

The great news is that there’s some flexibility with tracking alcohol since there is no official macro designation for it. The bad news is that it will require you to take a couple of extra steps and intentionality in order to make sure you’re tracking correctly.

If you have any go-to drinks, I highly recommend adding the macros into your preferred tracking app (I recommend 1st Phorm app - check it out here) as a recipe that you can easily pull up and log when you’re going to enjoy that drink.

With macros, there are no foods or drinks that are off-limits, so enjoy the drinks you love in moderation, just be sure to take a couple of extra seconds to ensure you’re tracking properly!

About the author 

Tami Smith

Tami Smith is a certified Nutritionist and an ACE certified fitness trainer, specializing in pre and post-natal fitness. She studied business and earned her bachelor's degree in Business Economics. Tami is a mom of two and women's health advocate. Her passion is to help people live a fit, healthy life through proper nutrition and exercise!

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