Calories in alcohol

Did you know a standard glass of wine can contain as many calories as a piece of chocolate, and a pint of lager has about the same calorie count as a packet of crisps?

The average wine drinker in England takes in around 2,000kcal from alcohol every month.

Drinking five pints of lager a week adds up to 44,200kcal over a year, equivalent to eating 221 doughnuts.

Liquid calories

Drink Calories (kcal) Food equivalent
A standard glass (175ml) of 12% wine 126kcal 1 Cadbury Heroes miniature bar
A pint of 5% strength beer 215kcal 1 packet of McCoy's salted crisps
A glass (50ml) of (17%) cream liqueur 118kcal 1 Milky Way bar
A standard bottle (330ml) of 5% alcopop 237kcal 3 Lees teacakes
A double measure (50ml) of 17.5% fortified wine 65kcal 1 Asda bourbon biscuit

 

You can find out the calories in many more drinks using the Drinkaware unit and calorie calculator.  

Weight gain

Wine, beer, cider, spirits and all our favourite drinks are made from natural starch and sugar. Fermentation, and distillation for certain drinks, is used to produce the alcohol content.

This helps explain why alcohol contains lots of calories – seven calories a gram in fact, almost as many as a gram of fat. And, of course, additional calories can be present in added mixer drinks.

Regularly drinking more than the NHS recommends can have a noticeable impact on your waistline as well as cause less obvious but more serious health problems.

Tips to avoid weight gain:

  • Men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week, which is equivalent to six pints of average strength beer or 10 small glasses of low strength wine.
  • Alternate an alcoholic drink with a glass of water – this will help to prevent you becoming dehydrated.
  • Don't drink on an empty stomach. If you do reach for snacks while drinking, opt for a healthier option.
  • Drinking in rounds can mean you end up drinking more than you intended. Opt out and drink at your own pace.
  • Try cutting down with a friend, as you'll be more likely to stick to it with moral support.
  • Eat a healthier dinner before you start drinking. Order or cook before you start drinking so you're not tempted to go for the less healthy options.
  • Pace yourself by taking small sips.
  • Avoid "binge drinking" – it is not advisable to "save up" your units to splurge at the weekend.
  • If you're drinking white wine, why not add a splash of soda water to help the same number of units last longer?

For more help on reducing your alcohol intake, read Tips on cutting down.

Page last reviewed: 16/12/2016

Next review due: 16/12/2019

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