With the festive season well and truly upon us, chances are that your alcohol intake has been on the rise. While it is commonly thought that alcoholic drinks including beer and wine are packed full of sugars this is not quite true. Rather it is the sugars found in fruits or various alcoholic bases that are fermented and converted into alcohol. Alcohol per gram contains 27kJ or almost 7 calories, almost as many as a gram of fat, and alcohol calories are metabolised in the liver before the other three nutrients we consume are. In real life terms this means that while you are busy burning off the alcohol in your drinks, any calories consumed in food such as potato chips, pre-dinner snacks, fried food or heavy restaurant meals is more likely to be stored. For many of us this is the cycle which links drinking to weight gain over time.
Now while not all alcoholic drinks are high in sugars, there are some types that do contain added sugars, such as spirits served with mixers and ciders. These drinks then offer the double whammy of alcohol and as well as energy dense calories which can equate to as many calories as an entire small meal in a single drink.
So if your goal is to not gain weight over the next few weeks, the key is to balance your overall calorie intake – that is watch what you are eating when you are enjoying a few drinks AND make the best alcohol choices you can. As a general rule of thumb plain spirits such as vodka and soda and a small glass of champagne are the lowest calorie choices and the key is to drink slowly, and alternate with as much water as you can so that you do not suffer the effects of severe dehydration and / or a massive hangover the next day.
So here are your favourite drinks, and the calories and sugars they contain.
Drink | Cal | Sugars (g) | Alcohol (g)
Glass of champagne | 89 | 2 | 11.4
Small glass wine (120ml) | 82 | 0 | 11.5
Large glass wine (240ml) | 163 | 0 | 23
Cider (355ml) | 178 | 12.8 | 14.2
Nip of spirit | 67 | 0 | 9.6
Vodka Lime and Soda | 80 | 3-5 | 10
Schooner of beer (450ml) | 162 | <1 | 17.6
Schooner of light beer | 113 | <1 | 9.5
Schooner of low carb beer | 132 | 0 | 15.5
Nip of Baileys | 120 | 7.4 | 5.0
Gin & Tonic | 110 | 10.8 | 10
Martini | 124 | 0 | 18
Mojito | 170 | 9 | 19
Bourbon and Coke | 120 | 13 | 10
Pre-Mix Bourbon & Cola | 229 | 33.4 | 13.9
Margarita | 120 | 1 | 15
Mai Tai | 257 | 17