“Sake makes you fat”, “it’s high in calories”, they say, but is it really any more likely to lead to weight gain than any other alcoholic beverages. We decided to investigate.
1. Sake’s calories / sugar levels compared with other alcohol beverages
Below is a list of various common alcoholic beverages and their calorific / sugar content per 100g of alcohol.
Beverage type Calories / Sugars
Whisky 237 Kcal / 0g
Shochu (Korui) 146kcal / 0g
Sake (Junmai) 103kcal / 3.6g
Red wine 73kcal / 1.5g
Beer 40kcal / 3.1g
The verdict: alcohol itself contains calories; the calorific content of sake is not that high per se.
Furthermore, while compared with other alcoholic beverages the sugar content of sake feels a little on the high side, sake’s high alcohol content means you actually tend to consume far less of that sugar in one glass – than you would with say something like beer.
To add some figures to this argument, if we were to compare the sugar levels of 180ml (1 glass) of sake against 350ml (one mug) of beer, sake measures 6.5g, whereas beer measures 11g.
2 . The calories of sake
The type of calorie found in alcohol is called an empty calorie, and guess what: they alone won’t make you fat. That is because they are burned off by the body immediately on consumption by adjusting the core temperature…that is why you always feel warmer after a glass or two. And because these calories are devoid of proteins and vitamins – things that the body actually needs – they are not stockpiled either.
It’s by the same logic that distilled beverages like shochu and whisky are often lauded as being “easy on the waistline”. But that doesn’t mean you can over drink them without consequences… Everything in moderation, as they say.
3. The hidden cause of weight gain? sake snacks
If you find that your sake lifestyle is causing a few shocks on the scales, the culprit may in fact be not the calories, but the food that you pair with it. Alcohol stimulates appetite making you eat more than you perhaps intended to. It’s an all too familiar tale, especially at drinking parties in Japan with the tendency to order a little of everything on the menu for the table.
You can avoid this pitfall by sticking to slightly less fattening, lighter, dare we say it healthier snacks like Edamame for example.
To sum up, to claim that “sake is fattening” is just too lightweight
an argument. By paying more attention to the food that you pair it with there is no reason why it should have to have such a negative impact on your health. Like the doctor always says: everything in moderation. Go forth and have a very healthy fat-free and fun sake life! Until next time.