One glass of vino won't do you any harm, but heavy drinking is not only bad for your health: it's shockingly bad for your wasitline. Alcoholic drinks contain zillions of calories! Here's our guide to drinking sensibly to stay trim.
The hidden calories in alcohol
Wine, beer, cider, spirits and all our favourite tipples are made by fermenting and distilling natural starch and sugar. Alcohol is high in sugar, which of course means it naturally contains lots of calories. 1g alcohol contains 7 calories, while 1g carbohydrate contains 4 calories, so as you can imagine, you can soon end up with a high calorie count from a night out. To calculate the alcohol content of a drink, take the ABV (alcohol by volume) % and volume of the drink and do the following equation: Alcohol content in g = (ABV X 0.8 X volume in centilitres) /10. So a 100ml glass of 15% wine (15 X 0.8 X 10) /10 = 12g alcohol for 100ml (1 unit = 8g).
And then there's sugar content. Even if the label doesn't say your alcoholic drink contains sugar, you can tell from the taste. Cocktails are the worst for this: a mixture of strong liqueurs and spirits, fruit juice and fizz is a recipe for calorie overload!
Empty calories that make you pile on the pounds
Alcoholic drinks aren't just swimming in calories: just for added measure, our bodies don't use them up for exercise, thought or regulation of our body temperature. They do get used up, but they have no nutritional value and they encourage the body to store fat and sugar rather than burn them. Alcohol also goes hand in hand with unhealthy snack food, biscuits, nibbles and cheese.
Why alcohol is no use to the body
Our bodies need protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals. Our bodies have no biological need for alcohol. You don't have to drink it, and if you drink too much you'll put your health at risk (of liver cirrhosis, psychiatric and nervous disorders and cancer, to say nothing of social problems like accidents at work and on the road). Drinking when pregnant can severely harm the development of the fetus. Studies have suggested that alcohol reduces your risk of cardiovascular illness, but only in small quantities (less than 2 glasses of wine a day). Suffice to say there's no argument that people who don't drink alcohol would get any benefits from drinking it.
Alcohol calorie counter
1 glass of red wine (150ml, 10% ABV) = 82 calories
1 glass of white wine (150ml, 11%) = 105 calories
1 glass of port or fortified wine (50ml) = 80 calories
1 vodka and orange (150ml) = 163 calories
1 Bloody Mary (150ml) = 211 calories
1 glass of champagne (150ml) = 105-180 calories(brut-dry)
1 beer (330ml) = 125-200 calories
1 glass of cider (150ml) = 50 calories
1 Martini (80ml) = 128 calories
1 gin (80ml) = 177 calories
1 whisky (40ml) = 100 calories
If you don't like the taste of alcohol, don't force yourself to drink: you're doing your health and your waistline a favour! Sup fizzy or still water, vegetable juice, sugarfree fruit juice and reduced-sugar fizz. If you like your alcoholic drinks, try and go for tipples that contain the least alcohol and sugar, and drink in moderation. Avoid shots, liqueurs, spirits and mixers. When you're having a meal, always keep a glass of water by your plate to quench your thirst, and savour your wine. And if you're watching your figure, don't forget that sneaky calories from alcohol do count - so don't forget to include them in your tally!