Units and calories in gin
Find out how many calories and units of alcohol there are in gin, and how you could cut down
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A gin and tonic might have more alcohol and calories in it than you would expect.
A typical-strength single (25ml) measure of gin will have 1 unit of alcohol in it. If your drink has a double measure, that means double the amount of alcohol (and calories).
The UK Chief Medical Officers' (CMO) low risk drinking guidelines recommend that, to keep health risks from alcohol low, it´s safest not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week, for both men and women.
So, drinking more than seven double measures of gin in a week would put you above the UK low risk drinking guidelines.
Drinking above the UK low risk drinking guidelines increases your risk of developing long-term health problems. It can damage your heart and liver, increase your risk of seven different types of cancer, and affect your appearance, fertility and mental health.
For a drink to be sold as ‘gin’ in the UK, it has to be at least 37.5% Alcohol By Volume (ABV).1 That means 37.5% of the drink is pure alcohol.
But the alcoholic strength of gin can vary a lot – the vast majority of widely bought gin brands are 40% ABV or above, and some – such as ‘small-batch’ or ‘boutique’ gins can be a lot higher.
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. If you’re in a pub, bar or restaurant, you could check the menu, or ask at the bar.
You can work out how many units of alcohol there are in any drink by multiplying the size of the serving (in ml) by its ABV percentage, and dividing the result by 1,000.
Strength (ABV) x volume (ml) ÷ 1,000 = units
A gin and tonic made with a single 25ml measure of 40% Alcohol by Volume (ABV) gin contains 1 unit of alcohol.
And if you’re drinking at home, it’s important to keep an eye on the measures you are pouring. If you're measuring 'by eye’ your drink might be a lot bigger than the standard measures used in pubs – these are normally 25ml for a single, or 50ml for a double.
Using a measuring cup can be a good way of keeping track – you can buy a unit measuring cup from the Drinkaware shop.
It’s a myth that drinks featuring clear spirits are low in calories. Alcohol contains around seven calories a gram - almost as many as pure fat.2 So, because gin has a high alcohol content, it’s high in calories too.
All alcohol – including the alcohol in gin - is made from natural starch and sugar. That means a single measure (25ml) by itself typically contains about 52 calories - almost as much as a chocolate chip cookie (57 calories).
In fact, you might be surprised to hear that a double gin and tonic made with a 50ml measure of gin contains around 153 calories.3 Even switching to a diet mixer will still mean a high calorie drink – a double gin and diet tonic is estimated to have 112 calories.4
Just like in other alcoholic drinks, these are ‘empty calories’ with no nutritional value, so don’t benefit your body in any way.
What’s more, the calories people consume through alcohol tend to be additional to the calories they consume in the rest of their diet, rather than a replacement. That means you could be having lots of extra calories ‘passively’, or without thinking about it, which can lead to weight gain.5
There are more alcohol-free alternatives to gin than ever before. If you fancy something other than a ‘traditional’ soft drink, you can choose from a range of ‘alcohol free’ substitutes that are designed to mimic the taste of gin, but without the high alcohol content.
In the UK, there is government guidance that recommends anything labelled as ‘alcohol free’ should be no more than 0.05% ABV6 (although some drinks labelled ‘alcohol free’ have up to 0.5% ABV). This means, because they can still contain some alcohol, alcohol-free isn’t suitable if you want or need to completely avoid alcohol.
They are designed to go with traditional mixers – why not try swapping your regular gin for an alcohol-free one with a diet tonic to enjoy the flavour of a ‘gin’ and tonic, with hardly any alcohol or calories?
Stick to singles and if you’re ordering a cocktail check how many measures of alcohol it’s made with. Mixers can mask the taste of gin, so you might not realise how strong a drink is just by tasting it. Consider buying a unit measure cup to use at home so you can be sure exactly how much alcohol you are pouring.
Drinking in rounds means you have to keep pace with the fastest drinker in your group, or feel pressured into drinking alcohol when you don’t want to. Stick to buying your own drinks and then you’re free to drink at your own speed rather than somebody else’s.
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.
If you’re thinking about drinking less, Drinkaware has some handy tools that can help:
Arming yourself with strategies and tips can help you or a loved one take small steps towards big results.
 Kwok, A., Dordevic, A.L., Paton, G., Page, M.J. and Truby, H. (2019). Effect of alcohol consumption on food energy intake: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Nutrition, 121(5), 481-495.
Last Reviewed: 15th December 2022
Next Review due: 15th December 2025