Units and calories in lager
How many calories and units of alcohol are in lager? Use our simple guide to find out.
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And Drinkaware research has found that lager is the type of alcohol drunk most at home by people who drink more than the UK low risk drinking guidelines2 - It’s safest not to drink 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 and poor mental health. Drinking alcohol also causes at least seven types of cancer, including breast, bowel, mouth and throat cancers.3
But how much alcohol is in lager, and how many calories? Get the facts here, and find out how you can cut down.
Checking a lager's ABV (alcohol by volume) tells you what percentage of the drink is made up of alcohol. For example, a lager with 4% ABV is four percent pure alcohol – and the higher the percentage, the more alcohol there is.
On average, lagers and beers sold to be drunk at home in the UK are 4.6% ABV.4 But that’s only an average – some can be much stronger. The only way to be sure of the strength of a particular lager is to check the label.
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 pint (568ml) of 4.6% ABV lager has 2.6 units in it.
A pint (568ml) of lager with 4% ABV can contain:
calories - that’s roughly the same as a standard slice of pizza
Alcohol is high in calories. It contains around seven calories a gram - almost as many as pure fat.5
Calories from alcohol are often described as 'empty calories', meaning they have no nutritional value because they are consumed in addition to the calories your body needs. And drinking alcohol affects the way your body processes fat for energy.6 You are more likely to store fat around your middle – which is an area where men in particular tend to show weight gain, sometimes referred to as a ‘beer belly’.7,8
What’s more, if you find that you eat more junk food after a drinking session, you won’t be alone. That’s because drinking affects the hormones that control your appetite,6 as well as making you less inhibited and therefore less likely to make healthy choices.7
Alcohol-free and low alcohol lager is made using the same ingredients as standard lager – but with less alcohol than its standard equivalent:11
The 0.05% limit for alcohol-free is based on voluntary government guidance – in practice some ‘alcohol-free’ beers have up to 0.5% ABV.
Because they still contain some alcohol, these types of drink aren’t suitable if you want or need to avoid alcohol. But if you want to cut down without stopping completely, switching – not adding them as extra drinks - can be a good way to cut your overall alcohol consumption and stick to the UK Chief Medical Officers’ low risk drinking guidelines.
Drinkaware research has found regular drinkers of alcohol-free products thought the taste had improved over recent years. Negative perceptions of taste were more common amongst people who hadn’t tried them, with many people pleasantly surprised with the taste when they did.12 So if you’re thinking of switching to alcohol-free lager to cut your consumption, there’s never been a better time to try it.
If you’re used to drinking pints of lager, try switching to smaller measures like a half pint or a small bottle instead.
Non-alcoholic drinks can help slow your alcohol consumption, reducing the overall units you consume. Water will also help you to stay hydrated.
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.
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.
 YouGov Plc: YouGov Profiles (Drinkaware Monitor - 2021). Sample size for Home (n = 1,894); Pub (n = 1,915). Available at: https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/research/alcohol-facts-and-data/alcohol-consumption-uk#drinkingpreferences
 Brown, K.F., Rumgay, H., Dunlop, C., Ryan, M., Quartly, F., Cox, A., Deas, A., Elliss-Brookes, L., Gavin, A., Hounsome, L. and Huws, D. (2018). The fraction of cancer attributable to modifiable risk factors in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the United Kingdom in 2015. British Journal of Cancer, 118(8), 1130.
 Public Health England. Review of typical ABV levels in beer, cider and wine purchased for the ‘in home’ market (June 2020). (Accessed 9 November 2022). Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/893741/Review_of_typical_ABV_levels_in_beer_cider_and_wine_purchased_for_the_in_home_market.pdf
 Sonko, B. J., Prentice, A. M., Murgatroyd, P. R., et al. (1994). Effect of alcohol on postmeal fat storage. Am J Clin Nutr, 59, 619-25.
 Golzarand, M., Salari-Moghaddam, A., & Mirmiran, P. (2022). Association between alcohol intake and overweight and obesity: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of 127 observational studies. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 62(29), 8078–8098. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2021.1925221
 Shi, H. and Clegg, D.J. (2009). Sex differences in the regulation of body weight. Physiology &Behavior, 97(2), pp.199-204.
 Yeomans, M.R., Caton, S. and Hetherington, M.M. (2003). Alcohol and food intake. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, 6(6), 639-644.
 Gan, G., Guevara, A., Marxen, M., Neumann, M., Jünger, E., Kobiella, A., Mennigen, E., Pilhatsch, M., Schwarz, D., Zimmermann, U.S. and Smolka, M.N. (2014). Alcohol-induced impairment of inhibitory control is linked to attenuated brain responses in right fronto-temporal cortex. Biological Psychiatry, 76(9), 698-707.
 Department of Health & Social Care. Low Alcohol Descriptors Guidance (13 December 2018). Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/763840/low-alcohol-descriptors-guidance.pdf [Accessed 26 October 2022]
Last Reviewed: 1st March 2023
Next Review due: 1st March 2026