Drinksafely logo

Alcohol and Calories

> Home > Binge Drinking > Alcohol and Calories

Alcohol and calories

There is quite a lot of misinformation about alcohol and calories, but the bottom line is that as far as your body is concerned alcohol is a liquid sugar and is full of empty calories - this has got nothing whatsoever to do with the other stuff in drinks or mixers.

The calories are in the alcohol - the stronger the drink, the more calories it contains.

For vodka all the calories come from the alcohol, whereas with white wine or champagne over 90% of the calories come from the alcohol. If you drink a lot of alcohol and are concerned about your weight then the solution is to drink less booze.

If you drink wine then mix it with soda or look for a wine with less alcohol in it. A typical heavy Australian Chardonnay or Italian Pinot Grigio may be up to 15% alcohol by volume (ABV), whereas some of the German and French Reislings may only be 9% ABV. It is also getting possible to buy wines that have been processed to lower the alcohol while retaining the flavour, and some of these wines can be between 5% and 8% ABV.

A typical bottle of dry white wine will contain around 600 calories - around the same as a Big Mac.

This works for beer and lager as well, so a pint of normal Carlsberg or any other lager (3.8% ABV) comes in at 182 calories or 4 chicken nuggets.

A pint of Stella (5%) or similar would be 256 calories or a bag of small fries.

Whereas a pint of Carlsberg Special Brew (9% ABV) comes in at 392 calories, almost a double cheeseburger.

I'm not aware of any specific effects of chicken nuggets on your complexion, but drinking too much is also really bad for your skin, and ages you prematurely.

These days it is not unusual to get women in their 30's on the ward with alcohol related liver disease, and I would say that the drinking probably ages them by at least 10 years, and often nearer 20 years.

When you see these patients in the clinic after a few months abstinence then you can usually can tell immediately that they have stayed off the booze, because they look a million times better - the red blotches and visible blood vessels dissapear, and they look 5 years younger.