How many calories are in your alcoholic drinks?

An alcohol-free month brings many benefits – including for your waistline. Here’s how many calories you can save by skipping the booze for a few weeks.

Do you know how many calories are in your favourite wine, beer or cocktail?

You may be surprised at the hidden calories in alcohol that contribute to weight gain.

How alcohol can affect your weight

Febfast, an annual campaign run by YSAS, encourages Australians to give up alcohol or sugar for a month to boost their health and raise money for disadvantaged young people.

YSAS general manager Dominic Ennis says aside from the wider health benefits of cutting back alcohol, more than 60 per cent of Febfast participants report losing weight.

“I don’t think how alcohol can contribute to weight gain is the dominant conversation around alcohol,” says Dominic.

“But alcohol not only contains more calories than people realise, it also lowers our inhibitions and affects the choices we make. What we eat, and how much we eat, can come unstuck when we drink alcohol.”

And with the National Alcohol Strategy reporting Australians over 15 drink 9.51 litres of pure alcohol a year – or about 2.08 standard drinks a day – that’s a lot of liquid calories.

Dietitian Jane Freeman says the calories you sip in a cocktail or two can quickly add up.

“Alcohol is a forgotten source of calories, but it is a potent source of calories that can contribute to weight gain and affect how effectively you lose weight,” says Jane, of Dietitians Australia.

“And the more you drink, the more relaxed you become, your guard drops and you can crave saltier, heavier foods.

“Cutting out alcohol – or at least cutting back – is an easy way to help you lose weight.

“You’ll feel better and you’ll have more energy and that means you can be more active, which will also help with weight loss.”

How many calories are in beer, wine, cider and spirits?

According to LiveLighter and the Queensland Government:

  • 2 x 375ml full-strength beers = 277 calories, or one piece of fried chicken
  • 1 x 375ml full-strength beers = 138 calories, or one soft serve cone
  • 2 x 150ml glasses of champagne = 220 calories, or one slice of pizza
  • 2 x 330ml bottles of cider = 301 calories, or one cheeseburger
  • 1 x 375ml can of pre-mixed spirits = 236 calories, or one chocolate bar
  • 1 x 375ml can of low-strength beer = 96 calories, or two chicken nuggets
  • 1 x 750ml bottle of wine = 549 calories, or one loaf of garlic bread
  • Espresso martini = 223 calories, or a plain doughnut
  • Mojito = 194 calories, or four plain sweet biscuits
  • Rum and cola = 153 calories, or seven small lollies

Alcohol-free options: What to drink if you’re avoiding booze

The good news is that giving up alcohol doesn’t mean quitting socialising altogether. Try these refreshing alcohol-free drinks to get you started:

  • Blueberry pina colada mocktail: Blend 200ml coconut milk, four slices of pineapple, 150ml pineapple juice, two handfuls of blueberries and six big ice cubes.
  • Fruit tea spritzer: Make up a fruit tea, let it cool and add sparkling water.
  • Kombucha: An ever-growing number of brands and flavours are widely available.
  • Sparkling mineral water: Enjoy in a tall glass with a slice of lemon or lime, and add a sprig of mint for added flavour and colour.
  • Espresso banana smoothie: In a blender, combine one frozen banana, one cup of almond milk, two tablespoons of oats, one tablespoon of peanut butter, a shot of espresso, one cup of ice, and a teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg, chia seeds and honey. Sprinkle with cacao nibs.
  • Fancy mocktails: Use these expert tips to lift your non-alcoholic cocktail game.

Read more on alcohol and your health:

Written by Sarah Marinos.