Calories in alcohol
Discover how many calories are in alcohol and why cutting back can help us maintain a healthy weight.
Alcoholic drinks contain around seven calories a gram - almost as many as pure fat. Calories from alcohol are 'empty calories', meaning they have no nutritional value. They don’t benefit our bodies in any way.
Different alcoholic drinks have different amounts of calories in them, and many are high in sugar. A pint of lager can contain the same number of calories as a slice of pizza, or a large glass of wine the same an ice cream sundae.
Drinking alcohol also reduces the amount of fat our bodies burn for energy. 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 this takes priority. All other processes that should be taking place (including absorbing nutrients and burning fat) are interrupted.
Alcoholic drinks are high in calories and drinking alcohol will add to the overall calories we consume each day through the food we eat. Consuming extra calories through drinking can lead to weight gain. But by cutting back on the amount we drink can significantly help to reduce our calorie intake and help us maintain a healthy weight.
If someone is overweight and regularly drinks alcohol, they should find that their weight falls noticeably by reducing the amount they drink each week. And it will be easier to maintain a healthier weight by not starting to drink more again. Controlling our calorie intake – as well as how many units of alcohol we consume – is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
To keep our risk from alcohol-related health harms low, it’s important not to regularly exceed the recommended UK Chief Medical Officers' (CMO) low risk drinking guidelines of 14 units a week, spreading them evenly over three or more days. A good way to cut down the amount we drink is to have several drink-free days each week.