Sake Is high in calories and fattening; Truth or lie!? Ways to drink sake and stay in shape

Lately,  here in Japan, refreshing, sweet, slightly easier-to-palate sakes are all the rage, leading to an increase in young female fans of the beverage; in today’s society, the demographic that is normally most health conscious or concerned about their weight.

Sake is an alcoholic beverage made from rice, it’s sweet — in short, it screams “calories!” at you — it comes with the words “I will make you fat!” on the label; there are no doubt people trying to avoid the beverage for precisely this reason.

“does drinking sake really put on the pounds?”
“is there a way to drink sake without having to worry about the calories?”

In today’s article we will try to give you the answers to these questions.

Just How Many Calories Does Sake Contain?

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To determine whether sake puts on the pounds or not, we need to look at the calories. Where does sake rank on the scales compared to other alcoholic beverages?
The below data shows various alcoholic beverages and their average calorie contents.

Type Calorie
Beer 40kcal
Champagne / Carbonated Alcohol 45kcal
Wine 73kcal
Sake 103kcal
Shochu (Korui) 146kcal
Plum Wine 156kcal
Shochu (Otsurui) 206kcal
Whiskey 237kcal
Brandy 237kcal
Vodka 240kcal
Gin 284kcal

In the case of sake, every 100ml contains 103Kcal. Compared to wine and beer, that definitely feels a bit on the high side.

However, before we can reach a proper conclusion, other factors must be taken into consideration. For example, people will drink comparatively higher volumes of beer than they will sake because it is lower in alcohol. Or to put it another way, the more alcoholic spirits etc might be higher in calories, but you can’t really drink them in such high volumes because of their alcohol content. There is more to it than just counting calories.

The Calories in Sake Make it Less Likely You Will Put on Weight

The calories found in sake are called empty calories which is basically — as the name suggests — calories that contain… well, nothing. That is to say, they contain very little nutrients but the body will give them priority over sugars and fats and burn them up quicker. This is why you get hungry after drinking alcohol. Have you ever wondered why some people turn the colour of a tomato or get really hot when they drink? Well, this is caused by the instantaneous burning-up of empty calories by the body.

Things to Remember if You Want to Drink and Stay in Shape

Even though the calories in sake alone will not make you fat, just like with every type of food and drink, too much can be a bad thing. In actual fact, people who drink often tend to have a higher percentage of body fat.

And so, without further ado, below we introduce 3 tips to help you drink it healthily.

1. Choose Your Side Dishes Wisely

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Not just sake, but with all alcohol beverages, a lot of the time, the main causes of weight gain are what you eat with them.

Alcohol gives you a ravenous appetite, one that makes you eat too much.

“We all know that fry-ups and takeaway food look so appealing after drinking. Why? A research in the UK [1] came up with an answer. Appetite is controlled in the hypothalamus. And alcohol triggers this part of the brain into action – making us crave for high calorie/carbs food.”
Source: Sake Talk

In Japan, a night out with copious amounts of alcohol often ends up with ramen at 3am the next morning.

But when you eat fatty foods with or after sake, you are ingesting fat.

So, the trick is to opt for dishes that are low in calories.

Lightly seasoned Izakaya staples like Edamame, Sashimi, Hiyayako, Oden etc are all good options.

If you opt for Yakitori, choose salt over sauce.

2. Drink Less Alcohol!

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We know, we know! Delicious sake just keeps you coming back for more. But too much of a good thing is never a good thing. Let’s try and remember that. Too much sake will lead to weight gain, so it’s important to stagger your drinking. The trick is to use smaller drinking vessels as this naturally limits the amount you can drink in one sitting; drinking soft drinks or water in between takes is also advisable.

3. Warm It Up!

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When humans are cold, their metabolism shrinks and the body starts to stockpile fats. To avoid this, try warming your sake up a notch. The fact that you can drink sake at a warmer temperature is one of its unique selling points over beer and other beverages. Especially if you are on a diet — warm sake is the way to go!


And that wraps up our tips — and today’s article.

So to answer the question is sake fattening? Like everything in life, you should enjoy it in moderation. A tipple every now and then will certainly not make you fat. And if you are one of the people who, up until now, has been trying to avoid sake because of its fattening image, as long as you follow the above guidance, there is really no need to avoid is completely. Why not give it a try!