How to balance your alcohol intake


In many South African cultures, alcohol and celebrations go hand-in-hand. But after a few drinks it’s easy to forget that alcohol and weight gain also tend to go hand-in-hand.

The buzz about booze

Alcohol comes with very little nutritional value but is very high in kilojoules. A ‘standard’ alcoholic drink or ‘unit’ contains 8 grams of alcohol, which is equal to 234 kJ from the alcohol alone (not to mention sugars that are also sometimes present).

Stick to healthy food choices

If you’re having drinks before or with dinner, make sure to cut out most carbs or starches and stick to low-fat protein and a salad, or veggies. By sacrificing the carbohydrates in your meal, the alcohol will have less of an impact on the total amount of kilojoules you consume.

Also be sure to:

Watch your serving size. A portion of alcohol is 125 ml of wine (a very small glass!), ½ a beer or a tot of spirits. Generally the guideline is 1-2 units per day for women and 2-3 units per day for men.

Be careful with top-ups. Topping up your glass can lead to you losing count of the amount you have been drinking. Finish one glass before accepting a top-up.

Alternate your drinks. Alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water.

Dilute the alcohol. Add lots of water to your whisky or make a white wine spritzer with soda water to make it go further.

Use lots of ice. It makes your drink seem bigger without adding actual calories.

Avoid salty snacks. They’ll make you want to drink more.

Be careful of ‘lite’ wine. Lite wine does contain a little less alcohol (good), but these wines often have a higher sugar content to make up for the loss of flavour that alcohol provides (bad). So don’t think that ‘lite’ on the wine label gives you free reign.

How many kilojoules are in your drink?

330 ml beer630 kJ
150 ml white wine440 kJ
150 ml red wine560 kJ
1 mojito (approx. 250 ml)610 kJ
1 martini (approx. 100 ml)920 kJ
1 margarita (approx. 250 ml)730 kJ
1 strawberry daiquiri (approx. 250 ml)950 kJ
1 Long Island iced tea (approx. 250 ml)1 300 kJ
1 gin (25 ml) & tonic (150 ml)410 kJ

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