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Alcohol – Empty Christmas Calories

We are all fully aware of the impact alcohol has on our health, but at this time of year it can really be the one thing that tips all out hard work over the edge.

Its Christmas, relax a little, don’t abstain totally, but this is the one time of year all the lovely nice foods we don’t have all year come out. Wouldn’t you really have a little bit of those than another glass of wine?

Why calories in alcohol are extra-fattening

Alcoholic drinks are made by fermenting and distilling natural starch and sugar.

Did you know?

Because alcohol is made from sugar or starch, it contains lots of calories – seven calories a gram in fact, almost as many as pure fat!

Calories from alcohol are 'empty calories', they have no nutritional value. Most alcoholic drinks contain traces of vitamins and minerals, but not usually in amounts that make any significant contribution to our diet.

Drinking alcohol also reduces the amount of fat your body burns for energy. While we can store nutrients, protein, carbohydrates, and fat in our bodies, we can't store alcohol. So our systems want to get rid of it, and doing so takes priority. All of the other processes that should be taking place (including absorbing nutrients and burning fat) are interrupted.

How many calories are in an alcoholic drink?

With a pint of lager containing the same amount of calories as a slice of pizza, the calories in alcohol soon add up. You might be surprised to find out how many calories there are in wine and how spirits like gin could be contributing to weight gain.

Check the strength of your wine

Checking wine's ABV (alcohol by volume) will give you a guide to how strong it is. The ABV tells you what percentage of the drink is made up of alcohol. For example, wine with 12% ABV is 12% pure alcohol. The higher the percentage, the more alcohol there is – so try opting for lower ABV wines.

What are the alcohol unit guidelines for spirits?

The UK’s Chief Medical Officers' (CMO) recommend that both men and women are safest not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week. 14 single measures of 40% spirit is equal to the CMO's alcohol unit guidelines. If you regularly drink over these guidelines, you could be increasing your chances of developing long-term health conditions.

How many calories are in spirits?

You may be surprised to know that a 25ml measure 40% ABV shot of dark spirit, like whisky, with mixer contains 106 calories, similar to a chocolate mousse.

Clear spirits contain slightly fewer calories than dark spirits but the calories in vodka and other clear spirits can still quickly add up.

Ordering a 50ml ‘double’ spirit measure at a pub or bar makes your drink even more calorific – a double 37.5% ABV gin and mixer contains 149 calories, similar to a chocolate filled pancake.

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