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How Alcohol Fits Into Your Macros

As the holiday season approaches, we as coaches often have this recurring conversation with our clients – alcohol intake and how to track it. It can definitely be a bit confusing, so we are here to break it down for you.

Today’s post will cover:

  • The nutrient/calorie make-up of alcohol and how it compares to other macronutrients

  • An explanation on how to calculate alcohol “calories” and macros

  • Instagram links that show you exactly how to calculate this AND log it accurately

  • Some easy examples and “references” to help make tracking (and the math) a bit easier to understand

Alcohol and it’s Caloric Make-up The main macronutrients that compromise the food we eat are carbohydrates, protein and fats…so where does alcohol fall? Alcohol is actually a separate “nutrient” but isn’t found on nutrition labels, hence why this isn’t known to a lot of people. Check this out:

  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram = 4 calories

  • Protein: 1 gram = 4 calories

  • Fats: 1 gram = 9 calories

  • Alcohol: 1 gram = 7 calories

So how does alcohol get calculated into daily intake? Get ready for a bit of math (don’t worry, it’s not too hard)…

  • First up, you’ll need to calculate how many calories from alcohol you are consuming from your drink of choice. This is where the reference guide at the end of this post will come in handy.

  • Once you’ve determined how many calories, you will then need to determine how many grams that calorie amount is.

  • For a quick example of this…

  • A hard seltzer is typically 100 calories

  • 100 divided by 7 = 15g

  • So this drink contains 15g of alcohol

  • Once you have determined how many grams this drink is (and we suggest rounding up), then you have to determine HOW you want to track that 15g using the 3 macronutrients

Determining HOW to Track Your Alcohol Using Your Macros Now that you know how many calories are needed to cover the specific drink(s) you plan to consume, the next step is to determine where those calories ‘fit’ into your macros. So we are going back to the “calculator”…

  • Like we broke down earlier, carbohydrates and protein are 4 calories per gram and fats are 9 calories per gram.

  • Keeping with the example above, 100 calories of alcohol can look like this:

  • 100 calories / 4 calories = 25 grams of carbohydrates or protein

  • 100 calories / 9 calories = 11 grams of fats