You would be shocked if I told you to eat a hamburger or three a few times a week after dinner. Or a tube of Pringles, plus half a pack of chocolate digestives.
You could say you’d never be so unhealthy, but if you drink a drink or two regularly, I’m afraid you will – or at least consume the equivalent number of calories.
While we don’t think of alcoholic drinks because of their nutritional value, wine, beer, cider, and spirits are all made from natural starch and sugar, meaning they have about seven calories per gram. That’s almost as many calories as a gram of fat and more than a gram of sugar, which has four.
So if you’re a regular drinker, the calories add up quickly – and that’s before you charge for your mixers, such as cola, juice, or tonic water.
It is these ‘hidden’ calories that the government fears are causing the UK obesity epidemic, announcing that they are discussing plans to label alcohol by calorie count.
So how many calories are in your favorite drink – and how much exercise should you do to finish just one glass? CLAIRE COLEMAN puts an end to it. . .
While we don’t think of alcoholic drinks for their nutritional value, wine, beer, cider, and spirits are all made from natural starch and sugar, meaning they have about seven calories per gram (stock image)
Tall glass of Argentinian Malbec (250 ml)
Calories: 192 (or 96 for a 125 ml glass)
Equivalent: 19 sour cream and onion pringles
Burn it: 58 minutes walking, 32 minutes swimming
Low-cal swap: Red wine often has a higher alcohol content than white wine, which means it has more calories. But switching to a low-alcohol red helps. Dry red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Shiraz may also have fewer calories.
The good news is that winemakers know that drinkers are looking for a great tasting, lower calorie bottle and that the New Zealand wine industry has plowed £ 8.5 million to find a way to produce lighter wines without compromising pay on taste. Supermarkets do their best to keep them in stock. For a low-cal red, check M&S for 8.5 percent South African Sumika Shiraz, with just 65 calories in a small glass.
A tall glass of Argentinian Malbec has as many calories as 19 Sour Cream & Onion Pringles
Small glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (125ml)
Calories: 90 (or 180 for a 250 ml glass)
Equivalent: Two Jaffa Cakes
Burn it: You should walk for 27 minutes or do 30 minutes of biceps curls with a small weight in each hand
Low-cal swap: The lower the alcohol content, the fewer calories. One way to cut back is to switch to a wine with a lower ABV (alcohol by volume) value. You have to go below 9 percent to count as a low alcohol wine, with the resulting calorie savings. Switching from 12.5 percent white (like a Pinot Grigio) to 8 percent (a Riesling) can cut your calories by about a third.
Dry wines have fewer calories than sweet because there is less sugar in the grapes.
Or cut calories by turning your wine into a spritzer with soda water, which has no calories.
A small glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has the same calories as two Jaffa cakes
Provence Rosé bottle (750ml)
Calories: 516 (or 86 for 125 ml glass and 172 for a 250 ml glass)
Equivalent: Five and a half pots of Aero Chocolate Mousse
Burn it: 2 hours 34 minutes walking or an hour climbing stairs
Low-calorie swap: There are a range of ‘low-fat rosés’ on the market, such as the Saint Louis Provence made by Estandon Vignerons (£ 8.50, iceland.co.uk) with 444 calories per bottle and yet an alcohol content of 13 percent. Or you can make a low-calorie Frosé (that’s Frozen Rosé). Decant your rosé in an ice tray and freeze, then mix an equal number of rosé ice cubes and regular ice cubes for a rosé slushy with a fraction of the calories.
A bottle of Provence Rosé has the same calories as five and a half pots of Aero Chocolate Mousse
Glass Veuve Clicquot (125ml)
Equivalent: Two pieces of milk chocolate
Burn it: 26 minutes of walking or nine minutes of boxing
Low-cal swap: You’re on your way to a champagne winner because it’s one of the low-calorie drinks. As you would expect, the French turn their heads at the idea of ’low-fat champagne’, but to keep the calorie count very low, don’t go for ‘brut’; Instead, look for the words “adjust dose” or “dose zero” that indicate that no sugar is added at the end of the process so that it contains fewer calories.
While similar in calories, prosecco simply has the edge over champagne with 84 per 125ml glass – the equivalent of 1 McVitie’s Milk Chocolate Digestive cookie, which requires a 25-minute walk or 280 sit-ups to burn.
A glass of Veuve Clicquot has the same number of calories as two chunks of dairy milk chocolate
Pint Stella Artois
Equivalent: Subway Rotisserie Chicken Six-Inch Sub
Burn it: 1 hour and 8 minutes walking or 18 minutes skipping
Low-cal swap: There are plenty of low-calorie bearings to avoid the dreaded beer belly. A pint of Heineken Light has 155 calories, with 163 in Carlsberg Light and 152 in Amstel Light. But gluten-free beers have a similar number of calories to regular beers: gluten-free Peroni and Peroni both have 239 calories.
A pint of Stella Artois has 227 calories, the same as a Subway Rotisserie Chicken Six-Inch Sub
Equivalent: A McDonald’s burger
Burn it: 1 hour 12 minutes of walking or half an hour of circuit training
Low-cal swap: The drier a cider is, the lower it is in calories due to its reduced sugar content. If you want to go low cal, look for light cider brands like SkinnyBrands 5 percent cider with 149 calories per 500 ml.
Flavored ciders are higher in calories. A Kopparberg Strawberry & Lime (500ml) has 323 – equivalent to a serving of Pizza Express garlic bread with mozzarella, a 1 hour 37 minute walk or 1,000 squats to burn.
A pint of Magners has as many calories as a McDonald’s burger
Mudslide (50 g dark chocolate, 60 ml coffee liqueur, 60 ml vodka, 60 ml Irish cream liqueur, 100 ml double cream)
Equivalent: Two KFC Flamin ‘Wraps
Burn it: 3 hours 17 minutes of walking or 1 hour and 16 minutes of squash
Low-calorie swap: Irish creams like Baileys are high in calories – a 50ml glass contains 175 calories – while a Tia Maria coffee liqueur contains 118 calories per 50ml. For a lighter version, try Baileys Almande: The vegan version of almond milk has half the calories.
A Mudslide coffee cocktail has 656 calories, about the same as two KFC Flamin ‘Wraps
Vodka & lemonade
Skyy vodka (25 ml) and Schweppes lemonade (150 ml)
Equivalent: Half a pack of Walkers Ready Salted chips
Burn it: 26 minutes of walking or 170 push-ups
Low-cal swap: Vodka has the least calories of any spirits. If you choose the normal type of diet lemonade, you can reduce your caloric intake by as much as 90 percent. Normal tonic water has the same calories as lemonade, so switching doesn’t make a difference. For a low-calorie mixer, go for a vodka soda.
A Skyy vodka (25 ml) and Schweppes lemonade (150 ml) has as many calories as half a pack of Walkers Ready Salted chips
Single London Dry Gin (25 ml) and Schweppes tonic (150 ml)
Equivalent: Three chocolate fingers from Cadbury
Burn it: 25 minutes walk or 280 lunges
Low-cal swap: Replacing your tonic with slimline will immediately cut calories. For example, Schweppes Indian tonic has 53 calories and 12 g of sugar per 250 ml, while the brand’s slimline tonic contains only five calories and no sugar. Or you could try the so-called ‘hard seltzer’ – essentially alcoholic carbonated water. Available in a variety of flavors – from cherry to passion fruit – they usually contain around 90 to 100 calories per 330 ml can.
A single London Dry Gin (25ml) and Schweppes tonic (150ml) has the same calories, 84, as three Cadbury chocolate fingers
Pina colada (120 ml pineapple juice, 60 ml white rum and 60 ml coconut cream)
Equivalent: Eight onion rings from Burger King
Burn it: An hour 34 minutes walk or a 90 minute yoga class
Low-cal swap: The mixers make this high in calories. Try a Cosmopolitan – vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice and lime – with 150 calories.
A pina colada has the same number of calories as eight onion rings from Burger King
Juice of 1 lime, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 60 ml of white rum, soda and mint leaves
Equivalent: Half a regular portion of McDonald’s fries
Burn it: 47 minutes of walking or 23 minutes of cycling at about 10 mph – a distance of nearly four miles.
Low-cal swap: As cocktails go, a mojito is already quite low in calories. But to cut them even more, try switching from sugar or sugar syrup to a low-calorie liquid sweetener. Other low-calorie cocktails to try at the bar include a Martini, Gimlet, or an old-fashioned one.
A mojito has the same number of calories as half a serving of McDonald’s fries
Rum & cola
Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum (25 ml) and Coca-Cola (150 ml)
Equivalent: A Mr. Kipling French Fancy
Burn it: 34 minutes walk or an hour of dancing
Low-cal swap: While regular Coca-Cola contains 105 calories per 250 ml (and a whopping 27 g of sugar), diet coke contains only one calorie and no sugar. A white rum won’t have less calories than a dark rum – but if you want to cut calories and aren’t willing to give up sugar coke, consider non-alcoholic rum. Ish Spirits 0.5 percent Rumish and Stryyk’s 0 percent Not Rum have the same flavor profile as rum, but with less than six calories per serving.
A rum & cola has 112 calories, the same as a single Mr Kipling French Fancy