As a nutrition coach, I encourage clients to take a more sustainable approach to tracking their macros, which includes having alcohol from time-to-time.
But as you may have noticed when trying to track alcohol, the data is either missing from nutrition apps completely, or it shows up with a calorie value but 0g of macros.
This can lead to a lot of confusion.
So, how do you track alcohol macros? You should track the calories in alcohol by assigning its calories to grams of carbs or fat, or a mix of both. To do this, you can take the calorie value of the alcohol and divide by 4 for the number of grams of carbs to log, or by 9 for the grams of fat.
My goal with this article is to show you that you can reach your goals in a balanced and sustainable way so that you can stick with your diet long-term and achieve better results.
- Alcohol supplies energy at a rate of 7 calories per gram, but it does not contain macronutrients and does not provide nutrition to your body.
- While alcohol is neither a carb nor a fat, you can choose to track the calories in it as if it was a carb, a fat, or a mixture of both.
- Overconsumption of alcohol can lead to malnutrition and other health problems, so I recommend limiting its consumption to 5-10% of your total calories.
How Come Alcohol Doesn’t Automatically Track In Your Macros?
While alcohol does provide caloric energy at a rate of 7 calories per gram, it is not a nutrient (does not provide nutrition to your body and is in fact toxic at high doses). So, it really isn’t a carb, a protein, or a fat, which is why you will sometimes see it with calories but no macros when you try to log it in an app.
If you tried to hit all of your macros and include alcohol as well, you’d notice that your total calorie count for the day would be higher than expected because of the calories from alcohol.
Should You Count Alcohol In Your Macros?
Yes, you should count alcohol in your macros so that your calories and macros will be better aligned at the end of the day. Whether your goals are to lose, maintain, or gain weight, you need accurate information about both your calorie and macronutrient intake to get results.
When you assign macro values to your alcohol, you will know how much to adjust your intake to account for the calories coming from the alcohol so that you meet your calorie target for the day.
Alcohol can be assigned to carbs, fats, or either as these targets can be more flexible than protein. Protein should never be replaced with alcohol because protein is more important for muscle growth and satiety.
Since carbohydrates provide approximately 4 calories per gram, you can take the total alcohol calories and divide by 4 to see how many grams of carbs would provide an equivalent amount of calories.
Similarly, if you’d rather give up some fat grams, you can calculate the number of grams of fat that would be needed for the calorie content of the alcohol.
Since fats provide approximately 9 calories per gram, you can take the total alcohol calories and divide by 9 to see how many grams of fat would provide an equivalent amount of calories.
I’ve included this information in an easy step-by-step graphic, below.
Pro Tip: If you don’t want to do math, you can either search for the alcohol “as carbs” or “as fat” (for example “wine as carbs” or “wine as fat”) to log an entry in your app that will record the correct number of calories and macros to match those calories.
Is Alcohol A Carb Or A Fat?
Alcohol is not a carb or fat because it is not made up of glucose molecules the way carbs are, or fatty acids the way fats are. It does not provide nutrients to your body that your body can use or store. As such, the liver will prioritize alcohol metabolism to get rid of this toxin before anything else.
So, even though you can count the calories from alcohol as if they are coming from carbs, or fat (or both) to manage your overall caloric intake, you should not take this to an extreme.
Even if someone managed their calorie intake to account for the calories from alcohol, they’d be missing out on the essential nutrients from the foods they’d otherwise be eating.
This condition is sometimes called “drunkorexia” to describe someone who misses out on essential nutrients by prioritizing alcohol consumption over whole foods which can lead to long-term health consequences.
Alcohol Macros: Reference Sheet
Alcohol isn’t regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), but rather the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, so nutrition labels are not required. If you can’t find the calorie information for an alcoholic beverage, we’ve got you covered with this reference sheet.
Remember to include values for any mixers like soda or juice.
FeastGood Alcohol Macros: Reference Sheet
|Alcohol||Quantity||Calories||As Carbs||As Fat||As Both (even split)|
|Beer||12 oz||154||39||17||19.5C + 8.5F|
|Bloody Mary||Standard||140||35||16||17.5C + 8F|
|Bourbon||1 oz||64||16||7||8C + 3.5F|
|Champagne||4 oz||90||23||10||11.5C + 5F|
|Cider||12 oz||175||44||19||22C + 9.5F|
|Daiquiri||Varies||220||55||24||27.5C + 12F|
|Gin||1 oz||73||18||8||9C + 4F|
|Gin & Tonic||Standard||190||48||21||24C + 10.5F|
|Hard Lemonade||12 oz||220||55||24||27.5C + 12F|
|Light Beer||12 oz||104||26||12||13C + 6F|
|Margarita||Varies||274||69||30||34.5C + 15F|
|Martini||Standard||125||31||14||15.5C + 7F|
|Mimosa||Varies||100||25||11||12.5C + 5.5F|
|Moscow Mule||Varies||182||46||20||23C + 10F|
|Pina Colada||Varies||245||61||27||31.5C + 13.5F|
|Red Wine||5 oz||125||31||14||15.5C + 7F|
|Rosé||5 oz||102||26||11||13C + 5.5F|
|Rum||1 oz||64||16||7||8C + 3.5F|
|Scotch||1 oz||64||16||7||8C + 3.5F|
|Skinny Margarita||Varies||114||29||13||14.5C + 6.5F|
|Tequila||1 oz||69||17||8||8.5C + 4F|
|Vodka||1 oz||64||16||7||8C + 3.5F|
|Whiskey||1 oz||70||18||8||9C + 4F|
|White Wine||5 oz||120||30||13||15C + 6.5F|
|Wine Cooler||12 oz||220||55||24||27.5C + 12F|
How To Track Alcohol Macros
Determine the total calories coming from alcohol. Check out our reference sheet, above, if there’s no label.
Decide if you want to track it as carbs, fat, or a mixture of both. This is a matter of personal preference, and also whether you have more grams of carbs or fat to work with.
Divide the total calories by 4 to get the grams of carbs or by 9 to get the grams of fat. If you want to track as a mixture of both, determine how many calories will be tracked as carbs and divide that number by 4, and the remaining calories will be divided by 9.
Log the calories and grams in your nutrition app.
Apps like Cronometer have a “quick add” feature that will let you simply add macros and calories without searching for an entry. Or, you can create a custom food entry for your drink, especially if it’s a common choice for you.
Ways To Fit Alcohol Into Your Macros – Top Tips
Here are my top tips for fitting alcohol into your macros so that you can still meet your goals:
- Plan ahead: decide ahead of time how many drinks you will be having, and what they will be. If you’re not sure, plan a calorie budget instead so that you can pick and choose when you see what is available and what you’re in the mood for, as long as you stay in your calorie budget.
- Pre-log: log your drinks (or total alcohol calories) into your tracking app ahead of time so that you can plan the rest of your day and ensure you have enough calories/macros “reserved” for alcohol.
- Use low-cal mixers: instead of sugary options like juice or regular soda, choose low or no-calorie options like diet soda, sparkling water, seltzers, or Zevia (stevia-sweetened carbonated beverages that are similar to diet soda).
- Drink water: for every alcoholic drink that you have, whether it’s a glass of wine, a bottle of beer, or a shot of hard liquor, have at least one full glass of water. This will keep you hydrated, help you space out your drinks, and may reduce your intoxication level so that you are clear-headed when making decisions.
- Eat nutritious food: focus on nutrient-dense whole foods for the rest of your intake, since you won’t be getting any nutrients from the alcohol. Getting good quality macro and micronutrients will help you feel more satisfied and better overall.
- Budget for a fun snack: since many people find that drinking alcohol puts them in the mood for a snack, leave a “buffer” of about 10-15% of your calories for the day for a fun snack so that you won’t feel bad about eating a few chicken wings or nachos.
- Limit alcohol intake to no more than 5-10% of total calories: overconsuming alcohol leads to negative health consequences so it’s best to limit your intake to leave room for more nutritious calories from whole foods.
Logging Alcohol Macros On Different Apps
Does MyFitnessPal Track Alcohol Macros & How To Do It?
Yes, MyFitnessPal does track alcohol, but not all entries have macros assigned, meaning you could see 100 calories but zero or low macros. It’s better to search for “Wine as Carbs” or “Wine as Fat” or make a custom entry to record the right number of macros to equal the calories shown.
For example, 100 calories of wine could be recorded as 25g of carbs, or 11g of fat (or a mixture of these two).
Does Noom Track Alcohol Macros & How To Do It?
Yes, Noom tracks alcohol but it does not track macros because Noom does not have macro-tracking capabilities. In Noom, alcoholic beverages are color-coded green, yellow, or red based on their calorie density.
Most wine and liquors are coded red, most beer is coded yellow, and cocktails will depend on the mixers. Just search for your drink and mixers and log it.
Alcohol isn’t off limits in Noom (nothing is), but do be prepared to have a conversation with your coach if it seems like alcohol is holding you back from meeting your weight loss goals.
Does Cronometer Track Alcohol Macros & How To Do It?
Yes, Cronometer tracks alcohol macros. It actually records alcohol separately as a 4th macronutrient, rather than treating it as carbs or fat as is common in other apps. This is great because you can clearly see how much of your calorie intake is coming from alcohol.
Since alcohol is its own macronutrient in Cronometer, you likely won’t be able to hit your other macros (protein, carbs, and fat) without going over your calorie target. This is because alcohol is adding calories to your calorie intake but not adding any grams of macronutrients for your protein, carb, or fat targets.
This means you’ll still have to sacrifice some grams of another macronutrient if you want to prioritize your calorie target while losing weight, or eat even more calories if you want to get all your recommended macronutrients while in a calorie surplus.
Zakhari S. (2006). Overview: how is alcohol metabolized by the body?. Alcohol research & health : the journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 29(4), 245–254.
Lieber, C. S. (1976). The Metabolism of Alcohol. Scientific American, 234(3), 25–33. http://www.jstor.org/stable/24950302
R. Andrew Chambers MD (2008) Drunkorexia, Journal of Dual Diagnosis, 4:4, 414-416, DOI: 10.1080/15504260802086677
About The Author
Lauren Graham is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She focuses on helping busy professionals balance healthy eating and purposeful movement. Lauren has a background in competitive swimming and is currently competing as a CrossFit athlete. She has a passion for training, teaching, and writing.