Units and calories in alcohol

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Do you know how many units of alcohol you drink a week? Or that A standard glass of wine can contain as many calories as a piece of chocolate, and a pint of lager has about the same number of calories as a packet of crisps?

Alcohol Units

Most of us know when we’ve drunk too much, but the odd glass of wine or pint of beer can quickly escalate to two or three glasses on most days.

Men and women are advised to limit their drinking to no more than 14 units of alcohol a week. That is the equivalent to six pints of average strength beer, or nine small or seven standard glasses of average strength wine.

Regularly drinking more than this can harm your health, including increasing your risk of cancer and liver disease as well as weight gain.


Weight gain

Wine, beer, cider, spirits and many more of our favourite drinks are made from natural starch and sugar. Fermentation (and distillation for certain drinks) is used to produce the alcohol content.

This means alcohol contains lots of calories – 7 calories per gram, which is almost as many as a gram of fat. Plus, extra calories can be in added mixer drinks, such as cola or tonic water.

Drinking four bottles of wine a month adds up to a yearly consumption of around 27,000kcal, which is equivalent to eating 48 Big Macs a year! Drinking five pints of lager each week adds up to 44,200kcal over a year, equivalent to eating 221 doughnuts!

Alcohol can also cause weight gain by stopping your body from burning fat by affecting your metabolism, and making you feel hungry. So, if you’re trying to lose weight you need to think about what you are drinking as well as what you are eating.

Regularly drinking more than the NHS recommends can have a noticeable impact on your waistline as well as other serious health problems.


Want to know what’s in your drinks?

The drinkaware website has a unit and calorie calculator. It will tell you how many units in different drinks or you can work out your units and calories across a week. It even gives you the equivalent calories in cheeseburgers and says how many mutes of exercise you would need to do to burn off the calories.