Dear Flabby: No Calories In Alcohol?

dearflabbyThis week FT Gets Results would like to welcome a new columnist to our staff, Flabinnia May Bulgemoore. Ms. Bulgemoore is an elderly spinster who lives on a hamster farm on the outskirts of central Massachusetts with her 750 Cabbage Patch dolls and her cousin Flanders. Flabinnia—we like to call her “Flabby”—has spent her career combing yard sales for Magic Eight-balls, old tabloid magazines and used books about health and fitness from the 1970s, which she is happy to consult in order to answer her readers’ questions. To keep things interesting, we’ve opened up the forum to our trainers to provide a counterpoint to Flabby’s cockamamie advice. This week’s counterpoint comes from Derek Maxfield, owner and personal trainer at Fitness Together in Beverly, MA.
And now, FT Gets Results is proud to present: “Dear Flabby.”

Dear Flabby,

I’m wondering if you can settle a bet between me and my friend Pauline. Lately me and Pauline, we’ve been trying to eat healthier and get into a smaller size of Spanx. We’re seeing a personal trainer we found in the classifieds who has us keeping food journals and watching Richard Simmons on the VCR and he’s made us cut out desserts and cheese. (Boy has that been hard. I love a good cheese, don’t you? Those little individual slices with the cellophane wrapper get me going, ya know?) Anyhoo, my girlfriends and me, we were out to the ladies night over at the Holiday Inn out on Route 1 like we do every Sunday after Bingo and Pauline, she sees I’m not recording my cocktails in my food journal and she starts mouthing off like there’s no tomorrow about there being calories in martinis and I should count them in my food journal just like I do regular food. I told her she’s crazy and to take a hike. How can there be calories in something that’s clear like water? I ditched the olives into the ficus bush just to be safe, but I’m pretty sure it’s okay to have a few cocktails, right Flabby? Like, sometimes to have a few strawberry margaritas on account of all the fruit? So, who’s right, me or Pauline? There’s a nice David Hasselhoff poster riding on this one.




Dearest Tiny,

Judging by how skinny celebrities like Lindsay Lohan look in their drunk driving mug shots, I’d say there are absolutely no calories in alcohol, so my answer is: Yes!


P.S. My third cousin, once-removed, Earl goes up to that ladies night sometimes. If you happen to see him, short guy, usually in a Ramone’s T that’s a few sizes two small and should have been retired back in 2000, balding with a comb-over, orders “A Nice Tall Girl” instead of asking for a St. Pauli on draft, well, tell him I want my drain snake back.


Dear Tiny, Pauline and Flabby,

Hi. It’s Derek Maxfield here from Fitness Together in Beverly.

Really, Flabby? Just “Yes?”  What does that even mean? Of course there are calories in alcoholic drinks. Sometimes lots!

Tiny, as diligent as you may be about counting your food intake calories, the cocktail menu is where you can really get yourself into trouble.  Whether it’s at a family barbeque in your backyard or ladies night at the Holiday Inn, alcoholic beverages can directly influence what belt loop you’re notching.

The difficult part about alcohol is that it’s often overlooked when logging calorie intake in your journal and those calories can quickly put you over your daily allowance. You should know that 1 gram of alcohol contains 7 calories.  To better relate that figure:  1 gram of fat equals 9 calories, so alcohol contains just about the same amount of calories as fat.  To put it another way, one of those martinis of yours probably had between 200 and 300 calories, more than a serving of potato chips. (You’d count potato chips in your food journal if you ate them, right? Though you shouldn’t be eating chips if you really want to downsize those Spanx!)

I never expect anyone to fully eliminate alcohol from his or her diet.  However, limiting how much you drink can make stepping on the scale less stressful and save your health in the long run. Slowly enjoying a nice glass of wine instead of swigging down numerous potent cocktails can potentially save hundreds of calories.  If  you have one glass of wine at approximately 170 calories instead of 3 martinis at 250 calories each, you’ll save upwards of almost 600 calories, as well as a hefty hangover!

And don’t be fooled, Tiny. Just because certain types of alcohol like vodka or gin are clear like water, they are not low in calories.  A shot of straight alcohol can range from 120 to 180 calories—just as much as your average beer or even glass of wine. When sugary mixers are added to hard alcohol to create a margarita or fancy martini, calories can exceed 500!  And don’t be fooled into thinking that tonic water is low in calories, either. It’s loaded with sugar and has about 124 calories per 12 oz.  serving, almost as much as regular cola! Better to mix with club soda and a squeeze of lime, which has no calories.

When it comes to beer, my suggestion would be to go for light beer instead of heavy beer (Sam Adams Light instead of Sam Adams Octoberfest) or choose a glass of Cabernet, and try to avoid mixed drinks.  After selecting your drink: enjoy it, make it last, and sip – don’t chug.

So, Tiny, I hate to tell you this, but I guess Pauline is now the proud owner of that David Hasselhoff poster. Just remember, those cocktail calories count just as much as food calories do. Be sure to log them in your food journal, and keep them to a minimum.

Yours in Health,

Fitness Together in Beverly is located at
Cummings Center 950 Cummings Ctr, Ste 98X
(978) 922-3636

To find out about lower calorie cocktail alternatives, click here.

Go to to find more FT studios near you.

Derek Maxfield
Owner/Personal Trainer, FT Beverly
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
Over 8,000 sessions experience
Derek Maxfield enjoys seeing his clients reach their goals and looks forward to exercising. He strongly believes that nutrition is a very important apsect of fitness and finding the correct activity is the key to total comittment.  Derek is certified through the American Council of Exercise and has enjoyed working with clients ranging from 14 years old to 83 years old, from athletes to those who have had various injuries.  He started his career working in a public gym, but joined Fitness Together in December of 2008 in Concord, MA.  After two years of service which he thoroughly enjoyed, he became owner of Fitness Together in Beverly


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Filed under Dear Flabby, Fitness Tips, Health, In Good Health, Question & Answer, Trainer Tips, Weight Gain, Weight Loss

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