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Which Alcohol Has the Least Calories?

Which drink has the lowest calories? How can I avoid a hangover? If I know I’m going out drinking should I eat less to make up for the calories in alcohol?

I’d be living in la la land if I thought everyone stuck to water! I figured I’d provide some info that might help you make some healthier choices.

Which alcoholic drink has the least calories?

Beer, wine, champagne and spirits might not have the calorie count of a coconut cream laden Piña Colada, but these drinks still contain carbohydrates in addition to alcohol.

Here’s a bit of a break down for you of some calorie counts of old drinking favourites:

 

Beverage

Average Bar Serve  Calories
Red wine (13.5%) 150ml 100 – 120
White wine (11.5%) 150ml 70 – 120
Sparkling wine (11.5%) 150ml 70 – 120
Full-strength beer (4.8%) 425ml schooner 155
Premix gin and tonic (4.5%) 375 ml can 320
Vodka with soda (40%) 30ml spirit plus 150ml soda 64
Rum and cola (4.6%) 375ml can 248
Gin and tonic (4.5%) 30ml spirit plus 250 ml tonic 200
Piña Colada (13%) 150ml 290-480

 

We have a winner! Vodka and soda water comes out as the lowest calorie option. Add fresh lime or lemon juice for a low-calorie flavour hit.

Surprised at the gin and tonic? It’s a common misconception that tonic is another kind of soda water. It’s actually a soft drink and full of sugar.

[Related: How Many Calories in a Gin and Tonic PLUS a Free Cocktail Recipe]

Which is the best drink to prevent hangovers?

To be honest you are better off slamming down waters if you are trying to avoid a hangover! But if you are going to have a drink or two, then you need to keep a eye on what exactly you are drinking and standard drink versus standard serve.

Common scenario: On a night out you are matching your girlfriends round for round, and you all drink approximately the same number of drinks. Some of you are drinking beer, some wine, others spirits. In the end some of you are much more inebriated than others despite you all having the same number of empty glasses behind you.

There are lots of factors at play here including body weight and what you each ate before drinking. But a major factor is that that some of you have had more standard drinks than others.

By definition a standard drink contains 10 grams of alcohol (12.5ml of pure alcohol).  Most alcoholic beverages at a pub or restaurant are more than one standard drink.

[Related: Eating and Drinking at the Pub]

There are no common glass sizes used in Australia but you can have an approximate idea of standard drink versus standard serve:

Beverage Average bar serve Standard drinks
Red wine (13.5%) 150ml 1.6
White wine (11.5%) 150ml 1.5
Sparkling wine (11.5%) 150ml 1.4
Full-strength beer (4.8%) 425ml schooner 1.6
Premix gin and tonic (4.5%) 375 ml can 1.3
Vodka with soda (40%) 30ml spirit plus 150ml soda 1
Rum and cola  (4.6%) 375ml can 1.3
Gin and tonic (4.5%) 30ml spirit plus 250 ml tonic 1

So you can see by this that if for example, if Friend #1 drank three glasses of red wine and Friend #2 three glasses of gin and tonic they would have consumed a totally different number of standard drinks.

Friend #1 would have had 4.8 standard drinks and Friend #2 would have consumed 3 standard drinks. So if you are going out its worthwhile doing some calculations in your head to make sure you know just how much you are drinking!

You can check out more info on specific alcoholic drinks in the Australian Government’s standard drinks guidelines.

Should I cut down on the food I eat to compensate for the alcohol I drink?

No! No! No! Bad idea. Instead, make sure you head into the party or event with a game plan for how much food and alcohol you want to consume. Then stick to it. Eating before will also help prevent the calorie explosion that happens from a late night stop at the kebab shop on the way home!

Apart from eating before you go out my top tip is to sip your drink and alternate every alcoholic beverage with something non-alcoholic. It’ll help you stay hydrated and will go a long way towards helping you avoid waking up with a nasty hangover!

Check out our Calories in Alcohol Infographic!

Prefer your information in pictures? We’ve also put together a ‘Calories in Alcohol’ infographic to break down some of this info for you. AND we’ll tell you just how much exercise you need to do to burn off that glass of wine.

Meet the Author, Georgina Moore

Dietitian with over ten years of experience in hospitals and private practice, Georgie is a self-confessed fruit and vegie queen with a soft spot for pumpkin. Swapping doughnuts for apples as a child, she is your ultimate shopping list and nutrition planner, keeping your meals in check and your pantry clean. Running marathons in her spare time, she winds down drinking plenty of tea. Continue Reading →

6 Comments

  1. Carolyn Gorey Reply

    How many calories if I drink Gin with diet tonic water?

    1. Aimee Metcalfe Reply

      Not sure Carolyn, but there are low calorie alternatives to all of the drinks mentioned above.

  2. Eirinn Reply

    There’s an error in this article: you said that vodka is the lowest-calorie option because it has only 64 calories. But it’s also the smallest drink at 1 unit. If you scale it up to 1.5 units, it has 96 calories, comparable with white wine at 70-120 calories.

  3. Confused Reply

    What are the percentages indicative of in this article under the alcohol? Like Vodka has 40%.. Forty percent what?

    1. Danielle Warby Reply

      Sorry to confuse you confused! It’s the % of alcohol content – that is, how strong the drink is.

  4. Jennie Reply

    Diet tonic is 21kj for 300ml bottle – so definitely a calorie saver. 30ml nip of gin is 67cal – so in total similar to glass of white or sparkling.

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