The UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMOs') low risk drinking guidelines recommend that both men and women are safest not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week. If you do choose to drink that amount it is advised that you spread your units evenly across the week.
A gin and tonic made with a single 25ml measure of 37.5% Alcohol by Volume (ABV) gin contains 0.9 units. So drinking 16 gin and tonics made with this same amount of alcohol means you will exceed the guidelines. And remember if you drink doubles you’ll be over the guidelines with half the number of drinks.
Regularly drinking above the guidelines could increase your chances of developing a number of long-term health conditions including heart and liver disease and cancer and it can also affect your appearance, fertility and mental health.
You might be surprised to hear that a gin and tonic made with 25ml of 37.5% ABV gin contains 97 calories – similar to a buttered crumpet.
Remember, the calorie content of drinks made with gin doesn’t just include calories from the spirit; sugary mixers can contain lots of calories too.
Ordering a double can make your drink even more calorific. A double (50ml) gin and tonic ordered from a pub or bar made with 37.5% ABV gin contains 149 calories. That’s similar to a chocolate-filled pancake.
Just like in other alcoholic drinks, these are ‘empty calories’ with no nutritional value, so don’t benefit your body in any way. Most alcoholic drinks contain traces of vitamins and minerals, but not usually in amounts that make any significant contribution to our diet, so it’s never a good idea to substitute proper food for alcohol.
Checking a gin’s ABV will tell you how strong it is. Look out for the ABV on the label, which shows what percentage of the drink is alcohol.
For example, a gin and tonic made with 37.5% ABV gin contains 37.5% pure alcohol. The higher the percentage, the more alcohol is in the drink. Remember that ‘small-batch’ or ‘boutique’ gins can feature considerably higher ABVs.
- Explore the alternatives: Try tonic water, ice and lemon mixed in a glass, which can give you a gin and tonic-style taste without the alcohol. Plus, premium alcohol-free ‘spirits’ are now growing in popularity, and make a great base for alcohol-free cocktails.
- Watch your measures: If you’re making drinks at home then measures poured ‘by eye’ can be much bigger than the 25ml of gin you’d expect at a bar. Invest in a spirit measure, or order a Drinkaware unit measure cup, to take the guess work out of home-made gin and tonics.
- Opt out of rounds: Drinking in rounds means you have to keep pace with the fastest drinker in your group. Stick to buying your own drinks and then you’re free to drink at your own speed rather than somebody else’s.
- Take a break: If you want to cut back the amount of gin you are drinking and drink with the low risk drinking guidelines, a good way is to try several alcohol-free days each week
- Space your drinks, slow the pace: Enjoying a meal as part of your evening out slows down the absorption of alcohol, so you can enjoy yourself right to the end of the night. Ordering soft options between alcoholic drinks will also help you stay in control.
- Use our free app to track your units: The Drinkaware: Track and Calculate Units App is a simple-to-use tool for keeping tabs on how much alcohol you’re drinking each week.