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.
Our free Drinakware app is an easy way to track the units and calories in your drinks so you can cut back.
What is a unit of alcohol? Find out here...

Did you know?

Because alcohol is made from sugar or starch, it contains lots of calories – seven calories a gram in fact, almost as many as pure fat!

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 energy2. 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.

Check the calories in your drinks with our Unit and Calorie Calculator

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. You might be surprised to find out how many calories there are in wine and how spirits like gin could be contributing to weight gain.

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 fewer calories. Some ‘light’ wines have under 80 calories in a 175ml glass compared to 159 calories in the same measure of 13% ABV wine. Switching to low calorie drinks can help to beat a beer belly.
Another way to drink fewer 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.
To control your calorie intake as part of a healthy lifestyle it’s important not to regularly exceed the recommended low risk unit guidelines of 14 units a week.



(1) NHS Choices website. Calories in alcohol. The Information Standard member organisation. Last reviewed: 16/12/2014. Available at:
(2)Charles S. Lieber, 2000, ‘Alcohol: Its Metabolism and Interaction With Nutrients’, Annual Review of Nutrition, vol. 2, pp. 395-430. Available at:

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