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Calories and alcohol
How many calories do we actually consume when drinking?
The UK loves booze. Unfortunately, the UK also has a bit of a weight problem. These two characteristics could be quite closely related. Pure alcohol, despite not tasting very nice, contains seven calories per gram, making it the second most calorie-dense thing after fat, which has nine calories in a gram. In other words, it’s impossible to have an alcoholic drink with no calories.
According to an NHS Digital study, the average English person drinks 11.7 units of alcohol each week. A unit’s worth of alcoholic drink contains roughly 85 calories on average. This means they also consume about 1,000 calories from alcoholic drinks each week – the same amount of calories as two Big Macs. Since a pound of fat contains about 3,500 calories, this also means that the average person could lose 15 pounds (6.8kg) in one year by going teetotal.
Alcohol consumption varies significantly between genders and age groups, so alcohol calorie consumption does as well. And different drinks contain different amounts of calories – a pint of lager has far more than a small glass of wine, for example. See the tables below for stats for your own demographic, and for calories per drink type.
Weekly calories consumed from alcoholic drinks
|75 years and over||1,012||519||765|
Alcohol habits during the COVID-19 lockdown
As 60% of the Brits have stockpiled food for the lockdown, many have also picked up some extra drinks to make sure the home bar doesn’t dry out. During March 2020, alcohol sales went up by 22%, which is equal to £199 million. Whether drinks are consumed on a Friday evening video call, or on Tuesday night to wind down, it’s definitely could be easier to drink more at home than in a bar. This could be a recipe for bingeing, especially when the alcohol is cheaper and you’re deciding on the size of the servings.
How aware is the UK?
How many guessed calories of alcoholic drinks to within 50% of true figure
How accurate were the guesses?
|Drink||Total calories||Calories per unit of alcohol||Percentage of people who had no idea of calorie content|
|Pint of Lager||230||85||65%|
|Pint of Cider||216||83||59%|
|Pint of Guinness||218||88||61%|
|Small glass of wine (175ml)||159||69||59%|
|Shot of vodka (25ml)||51||54||79%|
|Shot of gin (25ml)||52||55||80%|
|Shot of tequila (25ml)||55||55||81%|
|Shot of sambuca (25ml)||80||84||73%|
|An alcopop (275ml)||170||155||64%|
|A double gin and tonic (standard measures)||160||85||63%|
|A double vodka and red bull (standard measures)||171||91||64%|
|A double rum and coke (standard measures)||167||84||64%|
Drinks with the most and fewest calories
|Drink||Volume (ml)||ABV (%)||Units||Calories||Calories/unit|
Calories per 25ml shot of different spirits
Calories in popular mixed drinks (double measure + 150ml mixer)
|Drink||Total calories||ABV (%)||Units||Calories/unit|
|Rum and Diet Coke||105||10||2||53|
|Gin and diet tonic||107||9.4||1.9||57|
|Whiskey and Diet Coke||111||10||2||56|
|Vodka, lime and soda||112||9.4||1.9||60|
|Gin and tonic||160||9.4||1.9||85|
|Rum and Coke||167||10||2||84|
|Vodka Red Bull||171||9.4||1.9||91|
|Whiskey and Coke||173||10||2||87|
|Rum and Diet Coke||105|
|Gin and diet tonic||107|
|Whiskey and Diet Coke||111|
|Vodka, lime and soda||112|
|Gin and tonic||160|
|Rum and Coke||167|
|Vodka Red Bull||171|
|Whiskey and Coke||173|
- NHS Digital
- Drink Aware
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