Sticking to your diet doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun! Vodka is one of the lowest calorie alcoholic beverages overall and has zero carbs, which is why it’s a liquor of choice for dieters, especially those on a low-carb diet like the Paleo or Atkin’s diet.
You'll just need to watch out for sugary mixers, late-night snacks, and drink only in moderation to protect your overall health.
Vodka contains nothing other than ethanol and water. This means that vodka has pretty much no nutritional value. There are no sugar, carbs, fiber, cholesterol, fat, sodium, vitamins, or minerals in vodka. All of the calories come from the alcohol itself.
Vodka is considered a lower-calorie libation compared to wine or beer. The more concentrated your vodka is (the higher the proof), the more calories it contains. The “proof” is a number that refers to the percent of alcohol in the liquor.
You can figure out the percent by dividing the proof in half. For example, 100 proof is 50 percent alcohol, while 80 proof is 40 percent alcohol.
The higher the proof, the higher the calorie count (and the bigger effect on your blood alcohol content). For a 1.5-ounce shot of vodka, the number of calories are as follows:
- 70 proof vodka: 85 calories
- 80 proof vodka: 96 calories
- 90 proof vodka: 110 calories
- 100 proof vodka: 124 calories
Alcohol is not a carbohydrate. The calories in vodka come only from the alcohol itself. Pure alcohol contains roughly 7 calories per gram. For reference, carbohydrates and protein both contain about 4 calories per gram, while fat contains about 9 calories per gram.
This means that alcohol is nearly twice as fattening as carbohydrates or protein and only slightly less fattening than fat.
The calorie content is generally the same between different brands of vodka that are that same proof. Kettle One, Smirnoff, Grey Goose, Skyy, and Absolut vodka, for example, are all 80 proof vodkas and each contain 96 calories per 1.5-ounce shot, or 69 calories per ounce.
Distilled spirits, like vodka, rum, whiskey, and gin, only contain alcohol, so they have zero carbs. If you’re tracking your carbohydrate intake, vodka is an optimal choice.
This may seem odd since vodka is made from carb-rich foods like wheat and potatoes. However, the carbs are removed during the fermentation and distilling processes.
Other distilled liquors, like rum, whiskey, gin, and tequila contain roughly the same number of calories as vodka, and zero carbohydrates. Of course, it depends on the brand and the proof.
Some brands of rum, for example, contain added spices and sugar that change the flavor and also the nutritional content.
Wine and beer in general have more calories and carbohydrates per serving than vodka:
|Type of beverage||Calorie count||Carb count|
|Wine (5 ounces)||125||5|
|Beer (12 ounces)||145||11|
|Light beer (12 ounces)||110||7|
|Champagne (4 ounces)||84||1.6|
Flavor-infused vodkas can make for a more delicious experience and may also eliminate the need for high-calorie mixers like cranberry or orange juice. Nowadays, you can find vodka infused with the natural or artificial flavor of just about anything.
Lemon, berry, coconut, watermelon, cucumber, vanilla, and cinnamon are popular options. There are also more exotic infusions including: bacon, whipped cream, ginger, mango, and even smoked salmon.
The best part is that most of the infused versions don’t contain any extra calories other than plain vodka!
Be careful not to confuse flavor-infused vodka with vodka drinks made with flavored sugary syrups that are added after the fermentation and distilling process. These products often contain many more calories than an infused vodka.
Always read the labels carefully. If you can’t find nutrition information on the product label, try searching the manufacturer’s website.
Vodka by itself has pretty much no taste other than the burning alcohol flavor that a lot of people find unpleasant.
So many drinkers choose to mix vodka with sweet juices or sodas to help with the taste. But the high sugar content of many of these mixers can wreak havoc on your diet.
A cup of orange juice, for example, contains 112 calories, and regular soda has over 140 calories per can. Most of those calories come from sugar.
Instead of sugary liquids, keep your drink low-calorie and low-carb by mixing your vodka with one of the following:
- lower sugar sodas
- soda water or club soda with a squeeze of lemon or lime
- diluted cranberry juice or lemonade
- iced tea
- club soda, mint leaves, and a no-calorie sweetener (like stevia)
Alcohol, including vodka, interferes with our body’s fat burning process. Normally, our liver metabolizes (breaks down) fats. When alcohol is present, however, your liver prefers to break it down first.
Fat metabolism comes to a screeching halt while your body uses the alcohol for energy. This is referred to as “fat sparing,” and it isn’t good for someone trying to lose weight.
While a single shot of vodka may not seem like a huge deal at under 100 calories, most of us don’t just stop at one drink. Consuming just 3 vodka drinks adds 300 calories to your intake for the day. That’s about the same as a McDonald’s cheeseburger.
Alcohol also makes us lose our inhibitions, messes with our hormones (adrenaline and cortisol), and increases our cravings for high-fat, high-carb foods. This makes it even harder to say no to a late-night trip to Taco Bell.
Vodka may be a good choice relative to other types of alcohol like beer or sugary cocktails, but if you’re watching your weight, you should treat vodka like you would a piece of a cake or a cookie and save it for a special occasion.
Vodka is a low-calorie liquor with no carbs, fat, or sugar, and no nutritional value for that matter. If you’re on a diet or just want to drink without an overload of calories, vodka is a good choice. It has less calories and carbs than beer, wine, champagne, and pre-mixed cocktails.
Mix vodka with soda water and a squeeze of lemon or a diet soda to keep the calorie and carb count low, but always try to keep your intake of alcohol to a sensible minimum as the calories can add up quickly.
Remember that your liver can’t help you with fat burning if it’s busy processing alcohol. It’s important to know that excess alcohol consumption can be very damaging to your overall health.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) considers “low-risk” drinking levels as no more than 4 drinks per day and no more than 14 drinks per week for men.
For women, the levels are lower – no more than 3 drinks per day and a total of 7 drinks per week. Drinking too much can cause significant damage to your brain, liver, heart, and other vital organs. It can also increase your risk of certain types of cancers.
Don’t drink vodka or any other type of alcohol if you’re pregnant.