Units and calories in vodka
Find out how many calories and units are in vodka, and how that relates to the low risk drinking guidelines.
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Vodka, like all spirits, is a strong alcoholic drink.
A typical-strength single (25ml) measure of vodka will have 1 unit of alcohol in it. And 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 it’s safest for both men and women to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread over three or more days with several drink-free days, and no bingeing.
So, drinking more than seven double measures of vodka 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 vodka 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 vodka is often higher – many widely bought vodka brands are 40% ABV or above, and some can be even stronger.
Checking a vodka’s Alcohol By Volume (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, 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 mixed vodka drink, like a vodka and coke or vodka and lemonade, made with a single 25ml measure of 40% Alcohol by Volume (ABV) vodka 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 vodka has a high alcohol content, it is high in calories too.
In fact, you might be surprised to hear that a double vodka and cola made with a 50ml measure of vodka contains around 168 calories.3 Even switching to a diet mixer will still mean a high calorie drink – a double vodka and diet cola is estimated to have 108 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
You can track your alcohol units and calories using the free MyDrinkaware app. Download it now to see how many units and calories are in each drink, set goals to stay motivated and plan and celebrate drink-free days.
There are more alcohol-free alternatives to vodka 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 vodka, 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 need or want to completely avoid alcohol.
They are designed to go with traditional mixers – why not try swapping your regular vodka for an alcohol-free alternative with a diet mixer to enjoy the flavour, but with hardly any alcohol or calories?
The most important way to look after your health is to stick to the UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMOs) low risk drinking guidelines. Try these tips to help you drink less vodka:
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 vodka, 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.
Mixing energy drinks and vodka means taking on caffeine as well as alcohol. The caffeine makes the brain feel more alert, and keeps you awake for longer, meaning you may drink more alcohol than you’d like. Find out more about the risks of mixing alcohol and energy drinks.
Alternating alcoholic drinks with soft choices can help slow the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream, so you can better pace your evening. Try switching vodka and tonics for high-end tonic water, lemon, and plenty of ice for a simple-to-make ‘mocktail’.
If you want to cut back the amount of vodka you are drinking and drink with the low risk drinking guidelines, a good way is to try several alcohol-free days each week.
 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