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How many calories does your drink have?

Meera Jadhav | November 18, 2005

I drink just one small peg of whisky a day. It's like drinking water, yaar," says Prashant Salian, 28, an HR manager with an  MNC.

image "Wine? What's in it? It's just like drinking grape juice. And, as far as I know, fruit juices are healthy," says Navneet Thakker, 30, an investment banker.

In the course of a single working day, I come across several people who think alcohol contains little or no calories.

Then there are those who believe alcohol is a healthy option if mixed with fruit juice.

Calories in your drink?

Yes, alcohol contains calories. Make that BIG calories. This is why not being able to resist a drink at a social do is a weight-watcher's nightmare come true.

Another misconception is that alcohol is a carbohydrate. 

Alcohol is most definitely not a source of energy. What alcohol molecules do is affect the brain to make one feel euphoric -- this is often mistaken for energy.

Now, let's get talking about the actual calorie content -- alcohol has about seven calories per gram.

This makes it nearly twice as fattening as carbohydrates or protein (both contain about four calories per gram) and just under the caloric value for fat (nine calories per gram).

The calories derived from alcohol are called 'empty' calories because they contain no beneficial nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.


~ One bottle of beer contains about 150 calories.

~ Beer, wine and liquor (an alcoholic beverage made by distillation rather than fermentation) all contain different quantities of alcohol; 15 mugs (250 ml per mug) of beer, 6 glasses (200 ml per glass) of wine and 10 shots of liquor (like tequila, whisky, rum) have about the same amount of alcohol.

~ Beer has between three to eight percent alcohol. 'Light' or low-cal beers contain around three percent alcohol.

~ Liqueurs (sweetened spirits with various flavours, oils and extracts) such as sherry and dessert liqueurs contain 40 to 50 percent alcohol and tend to have more calories.

~ White wines average 12 percent, while red wines have around 14 percent alcohol.

Note: The number of calories also depend on the size of the peg.

Adding any carbonated beverage or fruit juice would increase the calorie content of the drink as juices and beverages contain calories.

  • Calorie count for popular cocktails

    Serving size is one glass (200 ml)






    Mint Julep


    Old Fashioned


    Pina Colada




    Singapore Sling


    Sloe Gin Fizz


    Tequila Sunrise


    Tom Collins


    Black Russian


    Whisky Sour


    Blue Lagoon    


    White Russian


    Food versus drink

    Here are the calorie equivalents of some of your favourite cocktails as compared with food.

    1 mug of beer (250 ml) (150 calories)
    One tandoori roti (150 calories)
    1 glass of white wine (200 ml) (120 calories)       
    4 cups light microwave popcorn (120 calories)
    1 glass rum and diet Coke (133 calories)
    1 glass of rum and Coke (182 calories) 
    1 cup vegetarian Chinese chilly dish (135 calories)
    1 medium katori cooked soya beans (180 calories)
    1 glass of martini with one olive (184 calories)   
    1 slice cheese pizza (183 calories)                    
    1 tequila shot (100 calories)        
    1 chappati or two phulkas (102 calories)
    1 glass of gin and tonic (178 calories)      
    1 medium katori dal fry (177 calories)
    1 glass of Bailey's lrish Cream (468 calories)      
    2 chappatis (204 calories)     
    1 medium katori aloo mutter ( 217 calories)
    Green salad (45 calories)  
    Total: 466 calories                                   
    1 glasss of Cosmopolitan (151 calories)   
    1 soy vegetarian burger (140 calories)
    1 glass of Zima (rum cocktail) (185 calories)
    1 medium katori cooked masala dal (183 calories) 

    The downside of 'Cheers!'

    Alcohol increases craving for itself and other food items that are high in calories (salted peanuts, fried chips, anyone?).

    One beer every night adds upto 1,036 additional calories per week, or six to seven kilos to your stomach per year! No wonder they call it a beer belly.

    Scientists have not been able to find out whether consistently consuming alcohol leads to weight gain. Some studies have found that drinking beer or spirits increases the waist-to-hip ratio, while some have found no relationship whatsoever. 

    The ideal hip to waist ratio should be less than one (divide the size of your waist by the size of your hips). If the number you get is more than one, it is a sign you could be prone to heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other heart-related conditions.

    There may never be a simple answer, since there are so many variables involved. What we do know is that the body processes alcohol before fat, protein or carbohydrates. Thus, drinking slows down the burning of fat.

    This means that if you love your drink AND want to lose weight, you have a major uphill task in your hands.

    As a nutritionist, I would suggest you consume alcohol in moderation. If you are serious about losing weight, avoid drinking alcohol on a regular basis. Remember that the calories from alcohol add up quickly, and they go straight to the your abdomen and add to its size.

    Tips for party drinking

    ~ Dilute your drink with soda.

    ~ Add ice cubes to keep it chilly and light.

    ~ If you are preparing an alcohol punch, use a non-carbonated base like fruit juice. It should preferably be fresh. 

    ~ Eat plenty of food before you start drinking. Eating high protein foods like cheese, low-fat paneer, soya-based snacks, chicken and fish will slow down the absorption rate so that the alcohol will not hit your system at once.

    ~ Avoid too many salty snacks, which end-up making you thirsty as a result of which you drink more.

    ~ Sip your drink slowly instead of guzzling it down. Munch on a snack while downing it.

    Make sure the snack is roasted or baked, not deep-fried.

    The next time you are at a social gathering and have the urge to guzzle down another peg, envision that big wobbly belly that could put a beanbag to shame... and head for the water cooler instead.

    Meera Jadhav is a nutrition and fitness consultant. She has a degree in nutrition and a post-graduate diploma in Sports Science and Nutrition. She is also a Certified BFY (Better Fitness for You) Fitness trainer and Reebok Aerobics Trainer.

    Share your comments

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    Read what others have to say:

    Number of User Comments: 22

    Sub: Small drink, BIG calories!

    What about calories in commonly consumeed drinks like coffe, tea, curd, buttermilk, beverages-commercially available ones and not to miss out softdrinks

    Posted by kale

    Sub: health

    Thanks a ton for the info on nutrition,your article has delivered sufficient knowledge to drinks and is vey important in todays changing trend of party ...

    Posted by manoj rajput

    Sub: Calories

    What shall be an ideal diet for a purely vegetarian and woman.

    Posted by Sushil Gupta

    Sub: weight gain

    we eat the same food,but i tend to put on weight while my family members do not.and no, i'm not a couch potato! can i ...

    Posted by neeta

    Sub: Calories content of Alcohol

    How many calories does a 60ml peg of Brandy, Whiskey, Rum, Gin, Vodka, a bottle of Beer, and a glass of wine contain. Thanks.

    Posted by Alan


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