Calories in alcohol
Did you know that a glass of wine can have the same calories as four cookies? How about a pint of lager – surprised to hear it’s often the calorific equivalent of a slice of pizza?
Why calories in alcohol are extra-fattening
Alcoholic drinks are made by fermenting and distilling natural starch and sugar.
Did you know?
Being high in sugar means alcohol contains lots of calories – seven calories a gram in fact, almost as many as pure fat! (1)
Calories from alcohol are 'empty calories', they have no nutritional value. Most alcoholic drinks contain traces of vitamins and minerals, but not usually in amounts that make any significant contribution to our diet.
Drinking alcohol also reduces the amount of fat your body burns for energy (2). While we can store nutrients, protein, carbohydrates, and fat in our bodies, we can't store alcohol. So our systems want to get rid of it, and doing so takes priority. All of the other processes that should be taking place (including absorbing nutrients and burning fat) are interrupted.
How many calories are in an alcoholic drink?
With a pint of lager containing the same amount of calories as a slice of pizza, the calories in alcohol soon add up…
Low calorie alcoholic drinks
Alcoholic drinks are high in calories particularly common beverages such as beer and cocktails. However, by cutting back on the amount you drink, it can significantly help to reduce your calorie intake.
It can be useful to know that many alcoholic brands now have ‘light’ low alcohol alternatives containing less calories. Some ‘light’ wines have under 80 calories in a 175ml glass compared to 159 calories in the same measure of 13% ABV wine.
Another way to drink less calories is to opt for a low calorie mixer such as a diet coke or soda. Drinking water or low calorie soft drinks between alcoholic drinks is not only a good way to reduce your calorie intake but also helps to reduce the amount of units you’re drinking.
(1) NHS Choices website. ‘Calories in Alcohol.’ The Information Standard member organisation. Last reviewed: 16/12/2012. Available at:http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/calories-in-alcohol.aspx
(2) Annual Reviews website, ‘Alcohol: Its Metabolism and Interaction With Nutrients.’ Annual Review of Nutrition Vol. 20: 395-430, July 2000. Available at:http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev.nutr.20.1.395
Page updated: October 2014
Get started by using our unit & calorie calculator:
Are you drinking too much?
- Units and calories in lager
- Key calorie counting facts
- Drinkaware: Track and Calculate Units App
- A fresher's guide to uni nights out
- Low alcohol drinks
Also in this section
Lower risk guidelines
You should not regularly exceed:Find out how many units are in your favourite drink