Alcohol Over The Holiday Period

With the silly season approaching, many clients are expressing concern over whether they will be able to maintain their diet or weight loss, and anyone can see why! December is the time for gatherings, get-togethers, family events, Christmas parties and weekend BBQs, complete with delicious food and drinks. Most people are able to control their eating by distancing themselves from the snack table, ordering smaller meals or using mindful eating, but we often forget the impact that alcohol has on our calorie intake.

Alcohol is, in its most basic form: a sugar, meaning that it falls into the carbohydrate category alongside bread, rice, fruit and soft-drink. The kind of alcohol we consume varies greatly in its calorie content, based on the ingredients and processing methods, not to mention how much we have and what we serve it with.

The information below shows the energy content of a range of popular alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Alcohol                            Amount               Calories                Kilojoules

  • Beer, VB or similar           375ml                   143                      600
  • Beer, low alcohol             375ml                   90                        370
  • Champagne                      120ml (1 glass)    77                        325
  • Cider, apple, dry               375ml                   160                      670
  • Cider, apple, sweet           375ml                   195                      820
  • Spirits, gin                        30ml                     62                        260
  • Spirits, rum                      30ml                     63                        265
  • Spirits, vodka                   30ml                     63                        265
  • Wine, Red                         120ml                   82                        340
  • Wine, White                      120ml                   80                        340

Soft Drink/Mixers            Amount                Calories                Kilojoules

  • Coca-Cola, regular           375ml                    150                       630
  • Diet Coke                         375ml                    1                           5
  • Dry Ginger ale                 375ml                    124                       520
  • Lemonade, regular          375ml                    160                       670
  • Tonic Water                      250ml                    82                        345
  • Mineral / Soda Water       250ml                    0                          1

As we can see above, even small changes in our alcohol choices can make a big difference to our overall calorie intake. As a Dietitian I don’t recommend drinking alcohol, but if you choose to, try not to consume more than 2 standard drinks at a time and always give yourself at least 2 alcohol free days per week to protect your liver.

Some additional tips for reducing liquid calorie intake over the silly season include:

  • Choose a low alcohol or low carb beer – saves 50 calories (200+kj) per drink.
  • Switch to a dry cider instead of a sweet cider – saves 35 calories (150kj) per bottle.
  • Try soda water in your G&T instead of tonic water – saves 82 Calories (345kj) per drink.
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with a non-alcoholic drink such as mineral water or diet soft drink.
  • Choose single drinks instead of cocktails – save up to 200 calories (800kj).
  • Limit your intake. A bottle of white wine contributes 510 calories (2130kj), while a 6-pack of beer contributes a whopping 858 calories (3600kj), or almost half of a regular adult’s recommended daily energy intake.
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