Can You Lose Weight Drinking Hard Seltzer? Should you switch?

Hard seltzers are everywhere right now and one of their biggest selling points is their incredibly low carbs and calories. It seems like a no brainer that if you started to drink them compared to something else then you will lose weight but is that really the case? Can you lose weight drinking hard seltzer?

Can you lose weight drinking hard seltzer?

Drinking hard seltzers alone will not make you lose weight as they contain 100kcal per can. If you switch to drinking hard seltzers from a high calorie and higher carb alcoholic drink, like beer, then you can potentially lose weight relative to what you would have been.

The devil as always is in the detail. You can’t just start drinking hard seltzer and think it will magic weight away but if you usually have 10 high calorie beers a week and you switch to a hard seltzer, this will lower your overall calorie intake.

How can you lose weight drinking hard seltzers?

The main way you might possibly lose weight drinking hard seltzers is by swapping to them from a more calorific alcoholic drink.

Say for example someone drinks 10 beers a week but their calories and and calories out is in perfect balance, their weight stays constant.

If they switch to 10 hard seltzers, there will now be a calorie deficit and weight loss will start.

Why do you put on weight?

The equation for putting on weight is very simple. 

If you take in more calories than you burn, you put on weight. On average, for an adult male, if you have aa 500kcal surplus a day for a full week, 3500kcal, then you will put on a pound of fat.

To loose a pound of fat you need to have a total calorie deficit of 3500kcal.

All things being equal, if you drink a lot of alcohol one week compared to a previous one, you are at more risk of being in calorie surplus and gaining weight.

Why do alcoholic drinks make you put on weight?

So how does a liquid drink make you put on weight, it isn’t like it is a donut or a pizza.

The answer lies in just how calorie dense alcohol really is.

SubstanceKCal per gram
Calories per gram

Gram for gram, alcohol contains much more calories than sugar and carbs. 

There is a concept of a standard alcoholic drink.

The USDA and CDC have devised a list of “standard” alcoholic drinks. Each one contains the exact same amount of alcohol – 14g of alcohol (0.6 ounces).

Below is a list of the standard drinks, volumes and ABV that all give 14g of alcohol.

Drink and volumeAlcohol content
12fl oz Beer5%
5fl oz Wine12%
1.5fl oz Spirit (e.g whiskey)40%
Standard drinks

Each of these drinks will have 98kcal (14 x 7) from alcohol alone before you add in any carbs and sugar.

If you are drinking an alcoholic drink, the trick is to minimise the extra discretionary calories that don’t come from the alcohol. That means reducing the carbs and sugar to as low as possible.

Step up the new breed of drinks, the hard seltzers…

How many calories are in hard seltzers?

All the standard hard seltzers come in 12fl oz cans has 100kcal in total. This is almost entirely made up of the calories coming from the alcohol as there is usually only an additional 2g of carbs per can adding any calories.

Per 12fl oz can
Alcohol by volume5%
of which sugars2g
Calories 100kcal
Typical hard seltzer nutrition

How do hard seltzers compare to beer in calories?

The USDA say that the average alcoholic beer has 43kcal per 100ml which works out at 153kcal in a 12fl oz serving, this mirrors my own findings. 

I took a sample of 35 alcohol beers and found that the average calorie count was 43.2kcal per 100ml and 153.3 in a 12fl oz serving. 

A hard seltzer on the other hand comes in at an even 100kcal meaning it only have about 2/3rds the calories of a beer. 

The other way to look at it is you would need to drink 50% more hard seltzers to get the same calorie intake as beers. For example, you would need to drink 15 hard seltzers to have the same calorie intake as 10 beers.

How do hard seltzers compare to non alcoholic beer in calories?

From well over 100 different non alcoholic beers i have reviewed, i gathered all their nutritional data to work out the averages…

The average amount of calories in 100ml of non alcoholic beer is 22.6kcal. This works out at 80.1kcal in a 12fl oz measure.

This means that a non alcoholic beer only has 20% less calories than a hard seltzer on average, which takes some doing.

You can see why they are growing in popularity exponentially.

Hard seltzer vs a shot of vodka?

The USDA state a standard measure of vodka has 97 kcal per standard 1.5 fl oz shot. That equates to about 215kcal per 100ml of vodka. This is based on a 40% ABV vodka. 

Some vodka are 37.5%, others are export strength at 43.5%, these will have slightly more or less calories per serving.

Basically a hard seltzer is very nearly equal to a shot of vodka in terms of calories and it has the same amount of alcohol. For the extra flavour you are only having to drink in an extra 3kcal per can.

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