Is Vodka Fattening

Is Vodka Fattening?

Is vodka fattening? Some say yes it is, some say no it's not. Obviously both statements can't be true. Even the statement vodka can be fattening, which is true, doesn't really settle the argument. Furthermore, some heavy drinkers are fat, or at least support a beer belly, while other heavy drinkers are thin as a rail and look like death warmed over. It would seem that in some instances alcohol, or vodka if you wish, would put on pounds, and in other cases could make one's body slowly waste away.


Is vodka fattening? Forbes, a leading financial publication not too long ago put together a list of what were considered to be the 10 most fattening cocktails. We're not talking about straight shots of vodka or any other liquor, but we're talking about cocktails. Of these 10, 4 had vodka as one of the ingredients, including the top ranked cocktail, listed at 780 calories, Long Island Iced Tea.

This however does not mean vodka is the main culprit. Long Island Iced Tea also contains equal parts of tequila, rum, and gin. Added to this potent mix is Coke, sweet and sour mix, and triple sec. The combination yields a healthy dose of alcohol calories and sugar calories.

The White Russian is also high on the list although it only weighs in at 425 calories per drink. Here we have  2 ounces of vodka mixed with 1 1/2 ounces of coffee liqueur, and 1 1/2 ounces of heavy cream. The alcohol no doubt contributes the bulk of the calories but the heavy cream sounds - heavy.

A Vodka Tonic will yields 200 calories, less than a third of Long Island Iced Tea, and consists of 2 ounces of vodka, 5 ounces of tonic water, and a lime wedge. The lime wedge is at least low in calories, and is nutritious as well. The real culprit is the sugar found in the tonic water.

Finally, we have the 150 calorie Cosmopolitan, vodka, triple sec, lime juice and cranberry juice. The problem with this drink is that many bars use lime syrup, packed with sugar, rather than lime juice.

Two Things To Consider - It would seem then if we were to drink these cocktails like the Russians do, in other words throw out everything but the vodka, the calorie count would go way down, and we'd only get plastered instead of fat. In that case it might be safe to claim that vodka isn't fattening. There are a couple of things to consider however before establishing that claim as a fact.

The cocktails listed above are tasty and enjoyable, or they wouldn't be popular. One of the best tasting of the most fattening cocktails is the Mai Tai, which is heavy on the rum. The point is, any alcohol, including rum and vodka, can contribute to weight gain in two ways, one from the calories contained, and the other, and perhaps the primary factor, is that taking in alcohol is often associated with eating too much fattening food at the same sitting.

A Vodka Diet? - What would happen if you only drank alcohol or vodka and didn't eat food, besides the obvious? Our bodies do not treat alcohol calories the same as normal food calories present in sugars, starches, and carbohydrates, which when not burned are stored as fat. What the body does with alcohol is converts a small portion of it, roughly 5%, into fat. That's not necessarily too bad, although it can add up. The remainder of the alcohol is treated by the liver, as long as the liver holds up, and turned into acetate. Acetate is a fuel, just as is fat, a good thing.


The problem is, the body burns this acetate as a fuel, but in doing so does not burn stored fat, which is how we lose weight.  If stored fat is not burned, it will simply remain stored, and if more fattening foods are eaten, more fat will be stored, and if more vodka is being consumed, that additional fat will remain stored.

In that sense, vodka can make us fat, but what is really happening is the vodka, and the resulting acetates are not allowing our body to burn away fat reserves, so it's really the combination of vodka with the foods we eat, or the combination of vodka with the other ingredients in a cocktail, heavy cream, sugar, and often carbohydrates, that does the damage.

Having said all that, the answer to the question -"is vodka fattening?" - is yes and no.