Website helps to ward off alcohol-induced pounds

A single puff in a breathalyzer measures a drinker’s blood alcohol content, but a tequila enthusiast will not know how many pounds they’ve packed on from alcohol calories until they step onto a scale — and by then it’s too late.

Thanks to “”, students have a way of monitoring their intake. The site compares drinks based on an alcohol ratio of calories per alcohol percent. It also determines the right amount of consumption for an individual that will keep them from gaining weight.

“We take the calorie and alcohol percent by volume for a lot of popular drinks and figure out the best drink for people who want to maintain their weight,” said Ryan Hunter, founder of “The ratio is calculated by dividing the number of calories by the percent of alcohol.”

Hunter created the site in 2008.

“(The site) was an idea that I had for personal information just to keep for myself,” Hunter said. “I wanted to look at the calorie to percent alcohol ratio at popular drinks to test if that was something worth drinking or if it was just empty calories. I put it in an Excel sheet and posted it on the Internet. I got a lot of traction on other sites and put more of a dynamic list of pictures of the drinks featured. I also created a section for people to submit suggestions for types (of alcohol) that aren’t already listed on the site.”

Hunter said the lower the calorie to alcohol ratio, the better the drink option.

“For example, if we take a 60-calorie bottle of beer that has two percent alcohol, you have to drink about 10 of those to really feel the effects,” Hunter said.

On the site, the lowest ratio drink clocks in at 18.9 for Everclear.

Hunter said people should be wary of drinks loaded with heavy juices and pop.

“Drinks like cranberry vodkas are loaded with extra sugar from the cranberry juice, so you’re really just drinking pure sugar,” he said.

Consuming alcohol is an easy way to gain weight, because it has a lot of extra calories, said Justine Karduck, registered dietician at McKinley Health Center.

“Alcohol is similar to fat in the way we store it in our bodies,” Karduck said. “Fat has nine calories per gram so any alcohol ingestion over time is going to cause weight gain.”

Karduck said people should stick to a few standards for consuming alcohol and monitoring their intake.

“Consuming 80 calories of hard alcohol, 100 calories of light beer per ounce (or) 150 calories of regular beer per ounce of alcohol, is probably the best for those who want to watch their weight,” she said.

Karduck said the equivalent of 80 calories of hard alcohol is drinks mixed with diet soda, light beer or a 5-ounce glass of wine.

Typically, hard alcohol should have a ratio of under 20, and beer should have a ratio of under 25, said Hunter.

“If you want a mixed drink, stick with diet soda or lower-calorie juices,” Hunter said. “You’ll still feel the effects without adding the calories.”

Frozen drinks also add to the calorie and sugar ratio, and have about 10 percent alcohol, said Hunter.

“Margarita mixes have a ratio of 41, and add about 417 calories for a 12-ounce drink,” he said. “If you consume two or three of these, you’re looking at over 1000 calories of pure sugar. Of course, that also depends on the size of the drink.”

Instead, the popular Skinny Girl Margaritas may be a better option. The drink scores a 23.6 for only 300 calories.

People may want to steer towards simpler drinks, Hunter said.

“Wines and champagnes have ratios in the low 20s and tend to beat out most beers in terms of alcohol content and calories,” he said.

For some students, taste is more important than the number of calories in a drink.

“If I’m at a bar and I am choosing between a beer or a cranberry vodka, I’d choose the cranberry vodka,” said Taylor Engstrom, freshman in Media. “I don’t really like beer because of its taste, even though that might be a better option for me in the long run.”

Silvana Aranibar, freshman in LAS, said she prefers taste as well.

“I’m more of a fruity person, so I’d choose the cranberry vodka too,” she said. “I don’t really think about the nutritional value of the drink and choose my drinks based on whatever tastes good to me.”

Ultimately, Karduck said moderation is key for consuming these types of beverages.

“Women should stick to one drink per day and men should stick to two drinks per day,” she said. “Ingesting just 150 calories regularly from a rum and coke can add about 15 pounds in one year.”