The true culprit behind those extra lockdown pounds?

The true culprit behind those extra lockdown pounds? CLAIRE COLEMAN reveals how your favourite tipple could be sneaking in ‘hidden calories’ worth more than a takeaway hamburger

You’d be shocked if I told you that a couple of times a week you eat a hamburger or three, after your dinner. Or a tube of Pringles, plus half a pack of chocolate digestives.

You might say you’d never be so unhealthy, yet if you regularly indulge in a drink or two, I’m afraid that’s what you’re doing — or at least consuming the equivalent number of calories.

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 contain around 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 soon add up — and that’s before you factor in your mixers, such as cola, juice or tonic water.

It’s these ‘hidden’ calories that the Government fears are driving the UK’s obesity epidemic, leading them to announce that they are consulting on plans to label alcohol with its calorie count.

So just how many calories are in your favourite tipple — and how much exercise would you have to do to work off just one glass? CLAIRE COLEMAN tots it up . . .

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 contain around seven calories per gram (stock image)

Red Wine

Large glass of Argentinian Malbec (250ml)

Calories: 192 (or 96 for a 125ml glass)

Equivalent: 19 Sour Cream & Onion Pringles

Burn it off: 58-minute walk, 32-minute swim

Low-cal swap: Red wine often has a higher alcohol content than white wine, making it more calorific. But switching to a low-alcohol red will help. Dry reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Shiraz can also have fewer calories.

The good news is that winemakers know that drinkers are looking for a great-tasting bottle with a lower calorie count and the New Zealand wine industry has ploughed £8.5 million into finding a way to produce lighter wines without compromising on taste. Supermarkets are making the effort to stock them, too. For a low-cal red, check M&S for the South African 8.5 per cent Sumika Shiraz, with just 65 calories in a small glass.

A large glass of Argentinian Malbec has the same amount of calories as 19 Sour Cream & Onion Pringles

White wine 

Small glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (125ml)

Calories: 90 (or 180 for a 250ml glass)

Equivalent: Two Jaffa Cakes

Burn it off: You’d need to walk for 27 minutes, or do 30 minutes of bicep curls with a small weight in each hand

Low-cal swap: The lower the alcohol content the fewer the calories. One way to cut back is to switch to a wine with a lower ABV (alcohol by volume) value. You need to go under 9 per cent for it to count as a low-alcohol wine, with the resulting calories savings. Switching from a 12.5 per cent white (such as a Pinot Grigio) to an 8 per cent (a Riesling) could cut your calories by around a third.

Dry wines have fewer calories than sweet because there’s less sugar in the grapes.

Or reduce the calories by turning your wine into a spritzer using soda water, which has zero calories.

A small glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has the same calories as two Jaffa Cakes

Rose wine

Bottle of Provence Rosé (750ml)

Calories: 516 (or 86 for 125ml glass, and 172 for a 250ml glass)

Equivalent: Five-and-a-half pots of Aero Chocolate Mousse

Burn it off: 2 hour 34-minute walk or an hour of climbing stairs

Low-calorie swap: There are a range of ‘skinny rosés’ on the market, such as the Saint Louis Provence made by Estandon Vignerons (£8.50, that has 444 calories a bottle yet an ABV of 13 per cent. Or you could make a low-calorie Frosé (that’s Frozen Rosé). Decant your rosé into an ice tray and freeze, then blend an equal number of rosé ice cubes and normal 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 of Veuve Clicquot (125ml)

Calories: 89

Equivalent: Two chunks of Dairy Milk chocolate

Burn it off: 26-minute walk or nine minutes of boxing

Low-cal swap: You’re on to a winner with champagne as it’s one of the lowest calorie drinks. As you might expect, the French turn their noses up at the idea of ‘skinny champagne’ but to keep the calorie count really low, don’t go for ‘brut’; instead look for the words ‘pas dose’ or ‘dosage zero’ which indicate no sugar is added at the end of the process, so it will have fewer calories.

Though similar in calories, prosecco just has the edge on champagne at 84 per 125ml glass — the equivalent of 1 McVitie’s Milk Chocolate Digestive biscuit, requiring a 25-minute walk or 280 sit ups to burn off.

A glass of Veuve Clicquot has the same number of calories as two chunks of Dairy Milk chocolate


Pint of Stella Artois

Calories: 227

Equivalent: Subway Rotisserie Chicken Six-Inch Sub

Burn it off: 1hr 8-minute walk or 18 minutes of skipping

Low-cal swap: There are plenty of low-calorie lagers 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 calorie count to regular beers: Peroni and Peroni gluten-free both have 239 calories.

A pint of Stella Artois has 227 calories, the same as a Subway Rotisserie Chicken Six-Inch Sub


Pint of Magners

Calories: 239

Equivalent: A McDonald’s hamburger

Burn it off: 1 hour 12-minute walk or half an hour of circuit training

Low-cal swap: The drier a cider is, the lower it is in calories due to the reduced sugar content. If you want to go low cal, you need to look for light cider brands such as SkinnyBrands 5 per cent cider with 149 calories per 500ml.

Flavoured ciders are higher in calories. A Kopparberg Strawberry & Lime (500ml) has 323 — equivalent to a portion of Pizza Express garlic bread with mozzarella, taking a 1 hour 37-minute walk or 1,000 squats to burn off.

A pint of Magners has the same amount of calories as a McDonald’s hamburger

Coffee cocktail

Mudslide (50g dark chocolate, 60ml coffee liqueur, 60ml vodka, 60ml Irish cream liqueur, 100ml double cream)

Calories: 656

Equivalent: Two KFC Flamin’ Wraps

Burn it off: 3 hour 17-minute walk or 1 hour and 16 minutes playing squash

Low-calorie swap: Irish creams such as Baileys are very high in calories — a 50ml glass has 175 calories — while a Tia Maria coffee liqueur has 118 calories per 50ml. For a lighter version, try Baileys Almande: the almond milk vegan version has half the calories.

A Mudslide coffee cocktail has 656 calories, around the same as two KFC Flamin’ Wraps

Vodka & lemonade

Skyy vodka (25ml) and Schweppes lemonade (150ml)

Calories: 85

Equivalent: Half a packet of Walkers Ready Salted crisps

Burn it off: 26 min walk or 170 press-ups

Low-cal swap: Vodka has the fewest calories of all spirits. If you choose diet lemonade in place of the regular kind, you can cut your calorie intake by as much as 90 per cent. Regular tonic water has the same calories as lemonade, so switching won’t make a difference. For a mixer with zero calories, go for a vodka soda.

A Skyy vodka (25ml) and Schweppes lemonade (150ml) has the same amount of calories as half a packet of Walkers Ready Salted crisps

Gin & tonic

Single London Dry Gin (25ml) and Schweppes tonic (150ml)

Calories: 84

Equivalent: Three Cadbury chocolate fingers

Burn it off: 25-minute walk or 280 lunges

Low-cal swap: Switching your tonic for slimline will instantly cut the calories. For example, Schweppes Indian tonic has 53 calories and 12g of sugar per 250ml, while the brand’s slimline tonic has just five calories and no sugar. Or you could try so-called ‘hard seltzer’ —essentially alcoholic fizzy water. Coming in a range of flavours — from cherry to passion fruit — they typically contain around 90 to 100 calories per 330ml can.

A single London Dry Gin (25ml) and Schweppes tonic (150ml) has the same number of calories, 84, as three Cadbury chocolate fingers

Fruit cocktail

Pina colada (120ml pineapple juice, 60ml white rum and 60ml coconut cream)

Calories: 314

Equivalent: Eight Burger King onion rings

Burn it off: One-hour 34-minute 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 — at 150 calories.

A pina colada has the same number of calories as eight Burger King onion rings


Juice of 1 lime, 1 tsp sugar, 60ml white rum, soda and mint leaves

Calories: 158

Equivalent: Half a regular portion of McDonald’s fries

Burn it off: 47-minute walk or 23 minutes cycling at around 10 mph — a distance of almost four miles.

Low-cal swap: As cocktails go, a mojito is already pretty low in calories. But to reduce them even more, try switching from sugar or sugar syrup to a zero-calorie liquid sweetener. Other low calorie cocktails to try at the bar include a Martini, Gimlet or an Old Fashioned.

A mojito has the same number of calories as half a regular portion of McDonald’s fries

Rum & coke

Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum (25ml) and Coca-Cola (150ml)

Calories: 112

Equivalent: One Mr Kipling French Fancy

Burn it off: 34-minute walk or an hour of dancing

Low-cal swap: While regular Coca-Cola contains 105 calories per 250ml (and a whopping 27g of sugar), Diet Coke contains a mere one calorie and zero sugar. A white rum won’t have fewer calories than a dark rum — but if you want to cut the calories, and you’re not willing to give up full-sugar Coke, consider alcohol-free rum. Ish Spirits 0.5 per cent Rumish and Stryyk’s 0 per cent Not Rum boast the same flavour profile as rum but at under six calories a serving. 

A rum & coke has 112 calories, the same amount as a single Mr Kipling French Fancy

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