Guide to Drinking on A Diet
Drinking alcohol is a practice well and truly embedded within British culture, yet, an alarming number of us are oblivious to the calorie content our favourite tipples contain.
Finder.co.uk commissioned a survey which asked 2,000 British adults how many calories popular alcoholic drinks contained, and the results are pretty shocking.
Not only did a mere one-third of participants guess a calorie value that was within 50% of the drink’s actual value, but the survey also showed that an alarming 5% of partakers thought a pint contained less than 40 calories.
So, if you head straight to the bar and order a cold one without even considering the calorie content, you’re not alone.
If you’re watching your waistline but you don’t want to turn down social opportunities, keep reading.
By the time you’re done here, you’ll be clued up on how many calories your drink of choice contains, you’ll have expert advice on how you can watch your waistline and you’ll know the low-calorie alternatives to your favourite cocktails, mixers and wine.
How Many Calories are in Alcoholic Drinks?
Before we tackle this question, it’s worth noting how many calories pure alcohol contains.
Calories in the food and drink we consume come from four sources:
- Carbohydrates and sugars, which have four calories per gram
- Protein, which also contains four calories per gram
- Fat, which has nine calories per gram
- And alcohol, which contains seven calories per gram
This means for every gram of 100% ethanol we drink we’re consuming seven calories. That’s 56 calories per unit.
Most people don’t consume their alcohol like this, however, meaning the drinks we consume also contain calories from the other food groups.
So, let’s work out how many calories are in some of the most popular alcoholic drinks:
- A pint of 5% beer is 215 calories. That’s almost the equivalent of a small portion of chips at MacDonald’s.
- A pint of cider contains 216 calories, which is over five rashers of thick, fried bacon.
- A pint of stout has 210 calories in it, which is more than a glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut.
- One 175ml glass of 12% wine comes in at 126 calories, which is one Twix finger.
- One glass of 125ml champagne or prosecco at 12% contains 86 calories, which is the same as your mid-afternoon chocolate digestive.
- One shot of 80-proof vodka has 64 calories in it, which is a slice of white bread, and that’s if you drink the vodka neat.
How Can We Drink Smarter?
We’re not suggesting you give up alcohol altogether, here’s why:
Firstly, successful slimmers who adhere to the increasingly popular Keto diet and proven Atkins diet haven’t completely cut out alcohol when achieving their goals.
Secondly, many nutritionists are strong believers of ‘everything in moderation’, meaning that if you allow yourself a drink or two when you fancy it, you’re more likely to stick to your diet long term.
Thirdly, it would be an incredibly hypocritical thing for anyone at our mobile bar hire company to suggest you do.
We do, however, want to show you how you can finally start that diet you’ve been avoiding since you took your new year vow.
Top Tips for Drinkers Watching their Waistlines:
Swap Out the Sugar
Sugar has a high-calorie count, so opt for the diet cola, switch that lime cordial for a squeeze of the fresh stuff and try and find dry rather than sweet wine.
A study in Nutrition Reviews suggests that “light-to-moderate alcohol intake, especially wine intake, may be more likely to protect against weight gain, whereas consumption of spirits has been positively associated with weight gain.”
Spritz Up Your Life
Transform a small glass of wine into a large one by adding a splash of soda. The addition of soda won’t add any calories to your drink, but it will ensure it lasts longer, meaning you’ll consume less alcohol (and calories) over the course of your night.
Your gut and wallet can thank us later.
Choose Low-Alcohol Beer
Swap your regular pint for alow-alcohol beer. As we’ve already gathered, alcohol contains a higher calorie content than carbohydrates and sugar. So, this means that if your drink contains less alcohol, this will usually equate to fewer calories.
Heineken fans, listen up! Your standard 330ml bottle of 5% Heineken will set you back 139 calories, whereas a Heineken “0.0” (0%) equivalent only contains 69 calories.
Prefer a Carlsberg? Your 330ml bottle of Carlsberg (at 3.8%) contains 122 calories, while a 330ml bottle of Carlsberg “0.0” (0%) has only 73.
Think about what else you’re consuming when you’re enjoying your pint. You might be doing a great job at nursing your now-warm beer but if you’re mindlessly munching on packets of salted nuts and crisps, you’re just consuming your calories in another form.
Plan Your Post-Drink Meal
Whether your local kebab shop know your Saturday night order by heart or you head home and raid your fridge, most of us are guilty of a post-night-out ‘snack’. Before you head out, take a sober moment to think about what you can swap your bacon butty or XL döner for.
Learn Your Low-Calorie Alcoholic Drinks
We’ve created a list below of some of our favourite low-calorie cocktails, wines and spirit and mixers. Keep a mental bank of your favourite low-calorie alcoholic drinks from our list below, so that the next time you approach the bar you’re well aware of what will help you stick to your diet.
Low-Calorie Alcoholic Drinks
The modest size of this cocktail means it has a relatively low number of calories. A Cosmo (served in your typical 250ml martini glass) will contain a mere 100 calories. That’s less than a quarter the number of calories in a Long Island!
To make a Cosmo, you’ll need:
- 45ml of vodka
- 15ml of triple sec
- 30ml of cranberry juice
- 10ml of lime juice
- Orange zest or a lime wedge to garnish
We also love cosmos because they’re vegan. Check out our vegan drinks guide for more vegan drink hacks.
This simple three-ingredient recipe is easy to make at home and the perfect post-work summertime tipple. With just 120 calories per 170ml serving, you can’t go wrong.
To make Moscow Mule, you’ll need:
60ml of vodka
15ml of lime juice
180ml of ginger beer
Learn more about how you can make cocktails at home here.
Despite its high gin content, a Martini is surprisingly low in calories. Coming in at only 176 calories, that’s less than a pint (and olives are one of our favourite bar snacks).
To make a classic martini, you’ll need:
- Cracked ice
- 75ml gin
- 15ml dry vermouth
- One green olive to garnish
If a classic martini is your cocktail of choice, you’ll love our list of the top 25 gin cocktails.
Sipping a glass of prosecco (125ml) will only put you back 80 calories. That’s only 160 calories in two glasses, 240 in three or 480 calories in the bottle! Not that we’re encouraging you to binge…
Champers contains the same number of calories as its Italian counterpart, so choose whatever your taste buds (and budget) desire and enjoy this low-calorie beverage.
Read our Millennial’s Guide to Sparkling Wine to find out more about prosecco and champagne.
Low-Calorie Spirit and Mixers
Vodka Lime Soda
A fizzy mixer is great for those trying to keep trim because the bubbles mean they’re harder to drink and people generally drink them slower. When you’re trying to keep those calories away, what’s a better mixer than soda? It’s carbonated water!
With 64 calories for the vodka serving, zero calories for the soda and a negligible number of calories in a squeeze of fresh lime juice, you’re doing pretty well at sticking to your diet if you’re ordering Vodka Lime Sodas.
Love a spirit and mixer? Check out our list of the top 50 British spirits of 2019.
There’s a common misconception that tonic, much like soda, is just water. Tonic actually contains a lot of sugar and calories, so by swapping your regular 210ml g&t (170 calories) for a diet alternative (115 calories) you’ll be saving 55 calories per glass.