Energy value of alcohol (calories)


The substance ethanol contained in alcoholic beverages is a so-called hydrocarbon in purely chemical terms. Ethanol is produced during the fermentation of liquids containing carbohydrates (e.g. sugar solutions) and for this reason has a fairly high proportion of calories. In the case of alcoholic beverages, a distinction is made between those products that have a relatively low alcohol content (up to 14 vol%) and those that contain high percentage alcohol (more than 14 vol%).

Beverages with low alcohol content include

  • Light beer (1-3,5 % by volume)
  • Whole beer (3-5 % by volume) and
  • Strong beers (6-12 vol%). Most wines also generally have an alcohol content of less than 14 vol%. An exception is mead, which, with an alcohol content of up to 16 vol%, must be counted among the high percentage alcoholic beverages.

Liqueurs and other spirits can contain up to 80 vol % alcohol and for this reason also belong to the group of high-proof alcohol. In Germany, special regulations apply to the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. The laws in force are intended to protect young people in particular from the effects of excessive alcohol consumption. In general, alcohol may not be sold to minors who have not yet reached the age of 16. In the period between the 16th and 18th birthday, low-proof drinks such as beer and wine may be purchased, but the purchase of high-proof alcohol is still prohibited.

Alcohol and its calories

Even today, most people still assume that the frequent consumption of alcoholic beverages has no or at least hardly any influence on the figure. The calories contained in alcoholic beverages are definitely underestimated and the assumption that alcohol does not make you fat is not quite correct. Alcohol drunk in moderation certainly does not make you fat, but with increased distortion the relatively high calorie content can lead to enormous weight gain.

Pure alcohol (ethanol) contains about 7.1 kilocalories (kcal) per gram. This means that drinking one gram of ethanol can be compared approximately to consuming one gram of pure fat. This rule of thumb applies not only to beers or wines, but especially to high-proof drinks such as schnapps and vodka.

With a small glass of schnapps (about 2 cl), one can assume a calorific value of about 43 kilocalories (kcal). A glass of beer (0.3 litres), on the other hand, has a calorie content of approximately 136 kilocalories. An evening in a pub or club can therefore account for over 1000 kilocalories.

It is therefore understandable why the frequent consumption of alcohol can lead to considerable weight problems. However, beer or wine consumed in moderation is not harmful to the figure. For cocktail lovers it remains to be considered that just these sweet alcoholic beverages have a lot of sugar and a high percentage of alcohol.

Compared to the consumption of ordinary beer or schnapps, frequent drinking of cocktails leads to a much faster weight gain. The so-called “Pina Colada”, for example, is one of the most calorie-rich drinks of all. Even the small amount of only 0.3 litres of this creamy cocktail contains a proud 720 kilocalories (kcal) of calories.

The consumption of only two cocktails in one evening can already cover the calorie requirement of a whole day. In contrast to the Pina Colada, the Calpirinha belongs to the rather low-calorie alcoholic drinks. Nevertheless, drinking this cocktail is comparable to eating a shock bar.

Besides the fact that alcohol contains many calories, it must also be taken into account that ethanol has a certain influence on the gastrointestinal tract and fat burning. Basically, this effect is the real reason why you lose weight slowly but quickly if you drink alcoholic beverages regularly. Similar to sugar, alcohol is also broken down by the organism quite quickly.

For this reason the calories contained in ethanol have a rather small influence on body weight. Nevertheless, it has the ability to inhibit the breakdown of calories consumed during alcohol consumption. Therefore, all calories consumed in time with alcohol are stored in the stomach.

  • Intestinal tract are no longer broken down, but stored in fat deposits. For this reason, people who are dissatisfied with their figure should not only avoid eating food with many calories. Also the consumption of alcoholic beverages must be limited, if not completely stopped in the course of a successful diet.