Summers are meant for beaches, bikinis, and… spiked seltzer? If you’ve been celebrating the season, you’ve probably noticed a trend: Everyone seems to have a seltzer in hand. Except this summer, they’re boozy. First LaCroix’s popularity soared, and now other brands are adding alcohol into the fizzy mix. While spiked seltzer may seem like a healthier way to get your drink on, it might not be the case.
The alcohol in spiked seltzer is unique in that it comes from fermented sugars, but it’s not any better for your body than what you’d find in other alcoholic beverages. That combination of carbonation and sugar could mess with your gut, making you feel bloated. And that’s just the beginning.
“When it comes to alcohol—like sugar—all calories are created equally. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, almost double that of carbohydrates and protein. Additionally, alcohol interferes with our body’s normal processing our nutrients,” says Whitney English, MS, RDN. “Once an ingredient has been fermented (cane sugar in the case of spiked seltzer) and converted into alcohol, it’s no longer that ingredient—it’s alcohol. Ethanol, aka alcohol, affects our gut the same, regardless of its original source. It’s rapidly absorbed and metabolized by the liver, and any excess energy is stored as fat.”
English says spiked seltzer isn’t necessarily any healthier than other alcoholic drinks on the alcohol front: If you go overboard thinking drinking can after can is a-okay since it’s not hard liquor or beer, you’d be wrong. It’s still alcohol in that fizzy carbonated water, even if it doesn’t taste or look like it. With that being said, it does have some draws over other alcoholic beverages.
“Spiked seltzer may be lower in calories than craft beers or sugary mixed drinks, and for that reason, a better choice. Compared to red wine, though—which has about 125 calories and less than 1 gram of sugar on average—it’s not the best choice,” Whitney says. “I would caution people to limit the amount of any type of alcoholic beverage they drink. While moderate drinking has been associated with reduced rates of some chronic diseases, like cardiovascular disease, it has been shown to increase other conditions like breast cancer. If you’re going to drink, I recommend red wine to reap the antioxidant benefits of the polyphenols.”
Sure, spiked seltzer is undeniably refreshing. But don’t let yourself be fooled by a can that’s bright, colorful, and looks nothing like a beer.