Units and calories in alcopops
Get the facts on the unit and calorie content of a bottle of alcopop.
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Alcopops are pre-mixed alcoholic drinks designed to mimic the taste of soft drinks like lemonade, ginger beer or fruit punch - but with added alcohol. They aren’t suitable for anyone that needs to avoid alcohol, and they’re illegal to buy for anyone under 18.
They are part of a broader category of alcoholic drinks sometimes called ‘ready to drink’, which includes pre-mixed cocktails (like a canned gin and tonic) and other drinks like hard seltzer.
To keep health risks from alcohol low, if you choose to drink, it’s important to stick to the UK Chief Medical Officers' low risk drinking guidelines. That means no more than 14 units a week, spread over three or more days, with several drink-free days - and no bingeing.
Regularly drinking more than the low risk drinking guidelines increases your risk of serious health conditions including heart problems, high blood pressure, poor mental health, and seven types of cancer.
Checking an alcopop's ABV (alcohol by volume) tells you what percentage of the drink is made up of alcohol. For example, an alcopop with 4% ABV is four percent pure alcohol – and the higher the percentage, the more alcohol there is.
On average, drinks that are part of the ‘ready to drink’ category, including alcopops, are 4.6% ABV.1 But that’s only an average. The only way to be sure of the strength of a particular alcopop is to check the label, or ask at the bar.
A good way to keep track of how much you’re drinking is to know how many units of alcohol are in your drink. One unit of alcohol is 10ml (ten millilitres) of pure alcohol – and the number of units you are drinking depends on the drink’s size and strength.
For example, a 275ml bottle of a 4% ABV alcopop has 1.1 units in it.
Alcopops can be high in calories. This is partly because alcohol itself is high in calories - it contains around seven calories a gram, almost as many as pure fat.
And alcopops can be high in sugar too.2 Too much sugar in your diet can make you gain weight - increasing your risk heart disease, certain types of cancer and type 2 diabetes, and is also one of the main causes of tooth decay.
calories in a 275ml bottle
For adults that drink alcohol, it’s estimated that, on average, nearly 10% of their daily calorie intake comes from alcohol.
A good way to limit these extra calories is to stick to the UK Chief Medical Officers' low risk drinking guidelines - no more than 14 units a week for both men and women, with several drink-free days and no bingeing.
Some alcopops also contain added caffeine, which can mask the sedative effect of alcohol.4 The stimulant effect of the caffeine, combined with lowered inhibitions caused by the alcohol can make you ‘wide awake drunk’. Find out more about the dangers of mixing alcohol and energy drinks.
If you’re counting calories, as part of your healthy diet or to lose weight, choosing a low alcohol drink (up to 1.2% ABV) means the drink is legally required to show calorie information on the label.5,6
Alcopops taste very similar to soft drinks, but the alcohol they contain dehydrates you and your skin every time you drink. Try drinking water, juice or another soft drink instead of or between alcopops. It will help you stay hydrated and slow down the rate you’re drinking.
Drinking in rounds means that you’re keeping up with the fastest drinker, so you could be consuming your units faster than you’d like. Regain control, and maybe even save some cash, by buying your own drinks instead.
If you drink regularly, your body starts to build up a tolerance to alcohol. This is one of the reasons the UK Chief Medical Officers’ low risk drinking guidelines recommend having several drink free days each week, as well as not drinking more than 14 units per week.
If you choose to drink, recording exactly what you’ve drunk during the week will tell you whether you're keeping within the low-risk guidelines.
The free MyDrinkaware app is perfect for tracking your drinks at home and when you’re out and about.
 Royal Society for Public Health. Increasing awareness of ‘invisible’ calories from alcohol (November 2013). Available at: https://www.rsph.org.uk/static/uploaded/979245d2-7b5d-4693-a9b3fb1b98b68d76.pdf [Accessed 1 December 2022].
 Lalanne, L., Lutz, P.E. and Paille, F. (2017). Acute impact of caffeinated alcoholic beverages on cognition: A systematic review. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 76, 188-194.
 Department of Health and Social Care. Health and Care Bill: food information for consumers – powers to amend retained EU law. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-and-care-bill-factsheets/health-and-care-bill-food-information-for-consumers-powers-to-amend-retained-eu-law [Accessed 7 December 2022]
Last Reviewed: 1st March 2023
Next Review due: 1st March 2026