Alcohol

Do you know how many calories are in your favourite cocktail?

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Do you know how many calories are in your favourite cocktail?
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As the weather warms up, dining al fresco and barbeques in the sun can make it all too easy for the drinks to slip down.

However, enjoying a tipple or two doesn’t have to ruin your weight loss efforts.

Online healthy food retailer MuscleFood.com has put together a list of some of the most popular high-calorie alcoholic drinks that could be ruining your diet, along with more waistline-friendly alternatives.

From Champagne over Chardonnay to martinis over mojitos, scroll down to see the nine worst things you can drink for your diet, along with the calorie count per drink – and what you should be drinking instead.


Swap a Long Island Iced Tea (424 calories) for a Cosmopolitan (100 calories).

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Shutterstock / Alp Aksoy / Alexander Prokopenko

With an ingredient list that contains vodka, gin, rum, tequila, triple sec, and coke, it’s no wonder that a typical 420ml glass of Long Island contains a whopping 424 calories.

A Cosmopolitan has much less alcohol and only a small amount of cranberry juice, meaning a typical 250ml martini glass contains only 100 calories – less than a quarter of a Long Island.


Swap a Pina Colada (300 calories) for a Fuzzy Navel (120 calories).

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Shutterstock / Leon Rafael / Palmer Kane LLC

Pina Coladas are the perfect beachside cocktail, but thanks to the added coconut and pineapple mixers, these drinks regularly contain a high calorie count of around 300 calories per 230ml.

A Fuzzy Navel contains just peach schnapps and orange juice, making it an ideal fruity replacement at around 120 calories per 115ml drink.


Swap a Mojito (242 calories) for a Martini (70 calories).

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Shutterstock / Evgeny Karandaev / Brent Hofacker

Mojitos are a summertime favourite, but thanks to the sugar syrup a typical 230ml glass can contain as many as 242 calories.

A Martini has no additional mixers, meaning that a 250ml glass only contains a measly 70 calories – providing you don’t eat the olive, of course.


Swap an Alcopop (253 calories) for a Diet Rum & Coke (115 calories).

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Shutterstock / View Apart / GANNA MARTYSHEVA

Alcopops or coolers often contain heaps of added sugars, and an average 340ml bottle can have up to 253 calories.

For an equally sweet but lower calorie drink, a diet rum and coke can contain as little as 115 calories per 280ml serving, making this an ideal sweet alcoholic swap.


Swap your gin & tonic (170 calories) for a slimline gin & tonic (115 calories).

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A gin & tonic is one of the UK’s favourite drinks, but due to the added sugars of tonic water, a typical 210ml serving can contain about 170 calories.

A similar 210ml serving of gin & slimline tonic contains just 115 calories, saving you an average of 55 calories per glass.


Swap a sweet white wine (160 calories) for a glass of Champagne (89 calories).

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Shutterstock / Mariyana M / Igor Lateci

The additional sugar in a sweet white wine means that a 175ml medium glass can average about 160 calories.

Champagne has one of the lowest calorie counts for a carbonated drink, with one 120ml serving containing only 89 calories.


Swap a vodka tonic (175 calories) for a vodka, soda, and lime (106 calories).

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Shutterstock / Billion Photos

As with the gin & tonic, it’s the soda water that gives the vodka tonic a relatively high calorie count of 175 calories for 280ml.

Vodka, soda, and lime has no extra sugar and a low calories count of just 106 calories for the same measure.


Swap a Margarita (280 calories) for a Moscow Mule (120 calories).

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Shutterstock / Teri Virbickis / Elena Veselova

Margaritas are another fashionable cocktail that sadly arent’ particularly healthy, with 280 calories per 230ml serving.

Try swapping for an equally classy Moscow Mule, as these contain just 120 calories per 170ml serving.


Swap a pint of lager (208 calories) for a Barbell Brew Beer (92 calories).

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Shutterstock / Brent Hofacker / Pavelis

There’s a reason why so many lager drinkers carry a beer belly, as the average pint of the nation’s favourite beer contains roughly 208 calories.

Protein beers like Barbell Brew Beer are becoming increasingly popular amongst fitness fans who still want to enjoy their favourite alcoholic beverage, as they contain around 92 calories per 330ml serving.

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  • Drinking just one extra glass of wine or pint of beer over the recommended weekly limit could cut life expectancy by 30 minutes.
  • That’s according to a major new international study published in The Lancet medical journal.
  • The study found that the threshold for lowest risk of mortality was about 100g per week.
  • That’s just five standard 175ml glasses of wine or five pints a week.

Bad news for casual drinkers – just one extra glass of wine or beer over the recommended weekly limit could cut your life expectancy by 30 minutes, according to a major new study.

Published this week in The Lancet medical journal, the study looked at how alcohol consumption guidelines vary substantially across the globe.

In the US, the suggested limit for men is 196g per week – about 11 standard glasses of wine or pints of beer – while it’s 98g per week for women.

Meanwhile, the guidelines are almost 50% higher in Italy, Portugal, and Spain, while in the UK they’re almost 50% lower.

With the aim of helping to formulate an evidence-based alcohol policy, the study looked at individual-participant data from 83 long-term studies across 19 high-income countries in order to better define the alcohol thresholds associated with the lowest risk or mortality and cardiovascular disease.

599,912 drinkers with no previous cardiovascular disease were categorised into eight groups according to the amount of alcohol – in grams – they consumed per week.

The study then assessed alcohol consumption in relation to “all-cause mortality” and cardiovascular disease, as well as a number of subtypes.

It found that the threshold for lowest risk of mortality was about 100g per week – which works out at just five standard 175ml glasses of wine or five pints a week.

This is despite the fact that 50% of participants reported drinking more than 100g of alcohol per week, and 8·4% drank more than 350g per week.

Men who reported drinking less than 100g alcohol per week had about a 1-2 years longer life expectancy at age 40 than those who reported drinking 196g per week, while women who reported drinking above either the UK threshold (112g per week) or US threshold (98g per week) had about 1.3 years shorter life expectancy at age 40 than women who reported drinking below the thresholds.

The study found that drinking more than 100g per week raised the risk of stroke, fatal aneurysm, heart failure, and death.

The analysis also suggested that drinkers of beer or spirits, as well as binge drinkers, had the highest risk for mortality.

Risks ‘comparable to smoking’

According to a leading scientist speaking to The Guardian, the risks for a 40-year-old drinking over the recommended daily limit were comparable to smoking.

“Above two units a day, the death rates steadily climb,” said David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge.

“The paper estimates a 40-year-old drinking 4 units a day above the guidelines [the equivalent of drinking three glasses of wine in a night] has roughly two years’ lower life expectancy, which is around a twentieth of their remaining life. This works out at about an hour per day. So it’s as if each unit above guidelines is taking, on average, about 15 minutes of life, about the same as a cigarette.”

Tim Chico, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Sheffield, said that the study “makes clear that on balance there are no health benefits from drinking alcohol, which is usually the case when things sound too good to be true,” while Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, added that the study is “a serious wakeup call for many countries.”

The study concluded: “These data support adoption of lower limits of alcohol consumption than are recommended in most current guidelines.”

Chronic heavy drinking is a major risk factor for all types of dementia, especially early onset of the disease, according to a study published on Feb 21, 2018, in The Lancet Public Health.

Researchers examining more than 57,000 cases of early-onset dementia in France found that well over half were either alcohol-related or accompanied by an additional diagnosis of alcohol abuse.

Overall, alcohol-use disorders were associated with a three-fold higher risk of all types of dementia.

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are said to be premature before the age of 65.

Previous research was inconclusive on the effect of alcohol on cognitive health. Some studies have show a possible benefit of light-to-moderate drinking, while others have found that heavy drinking boosts the risk of dementia.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines “chronic heavy drinking” as more than 60 grammes of pure alcohol – six or more standard drinks – a day for men, and in excess of 40 grammes per day for women.

For the new study, researchers combed through medical records of more than one million adults in France diagnosed with dementia from 2008 to 2013.

The link with alcohol was statistically unmistakable, leading the authors to suggest screening, brief interventions for heavy drinking and alcoholism treatment to help reduce cognitive decline.

“The link between dementia and alcohol-use disorders… is likely a result of alcohol leading to permanent structural and functional brain damage,” said lead author Michael Schwarzinger, a scientist at the Translational Health Economics Network in Paris.

Alcohol-use disorders are also associated with high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and heart failure, which may in turn increase the risk of vascular dementia, he said in a statement.

Previous research has likewise established a link between heavy drinking and smoking, depression and low educational attainment – all risk factors for dementia.

The study, based on discharge records from all French hospitals over a six-year period, excluded patients with diseases linked to rare dementias and people with early-life mental health disorders.

During the same period, there were 945,512 people – more than 85% of them alcohol-dependent – diagnosed with alcohol-use disorders.

“Our findings suggest that the burden of dementia attributable to alcohol-use disorders is much larger than previously thought,” said Schwarzinger.

“Heavy drinking should be recognised as a major risk factor for all types of dementia.”

Clive Ballard, professor at the University of Exeter Medical School in Britain, described the findings as “immensely important”.

“We should move forward with clear public health messages about the relationship between both alcohol-use disorders and alcohol consumption respectively, and dementia,” he commented in the same journal. – AFP Relaxnews

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Which is worse for you: weed or whiskey?

It’s a tough call, but based on the science, there appears to be a clear answer.

Keep in mind that there are dozens of factors to account for, including how the substances affect your heart, brain, and behavior, and how likely you are to get hooked.

Time is important, too – while some effects are noticeable immediately, others only begin to crop up after months or years of use.

The comparison is slightly unfair for another reason: While scientists have been researching the effects of alcohol for decades, the science of cannabis is a lot murkier because of its mostly illegal status.


More than 30,700 Americans died from alcohol-induced causes in 2014. There have been zero documented deaths from marijuana use alone.

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Gerardo Garcia/Reuters

In 2014, 30,722 people died from alcohol-induced causes in the US – and that does not count drinking-related accidents or homicides. If those deaths were included, the number would be closer to 90,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, no deaths from marijuana overdoses have been reported, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. A 16-year study of more than 65,000 Americans, published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that healthy marijuana users were not more likely to die earlier than healthy people who did not use cannabis.


Marijuana appears to be significantly less addictive than alcohol.

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Close to half of all adults have tried marijuana at least once, making it one of the most widely used illegal drugs – yet research suggests that a relatively small percentage of people become addicted.

For a 1994 survey, epidemiologists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse asked more than 8,000 people from ages 15 to 64 about their drug use. Of those who had tried marijuana at least once, roughly 9% eventually fit a diagnosis of addiction. For alcohol, the figure was about 15%. To put that in perspective, the addiction rate for cocaine was 17%, while heroin was 23% and nicotine was 32%.


Marijuana may be harder on your heart, while moderate drinking could be beneficial.

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Flickr/maxbraun

Unlike alcohol, which slows your heart rate, marijuana speeds it up, which could negatively affect the heart in the short term. Still, the largest-ever report on cannabis from the National Academies of Sciences, released in January, found insufficient evidence to support or refute the idea that cannabis may increase the overall risk of a heart attack.

On the other hand, low to moderate drinking – about one drink a day – has been linked with a lower risk of heart attack and stroke compared with abstention. James Nicholls, a director at Alcohol Research UK, told The Guardian that those findings should be taken with a grain of salt since “any protective effects tend to be canceled out by even occasional bouts of heavier drinking.”


Alcohol is strongly linked with several types of cancer; marijuana is not.

In November, a group of the nation’s top cancer doctors issued a statement asking people to drink less. They cited strong evidence that drinking alcohol – as little as a glass of wine or beer a day – increases the risk of developing both pre- and postmenopausal breast cancer.

The US Department of Health lists alcohol as a known human carcinogen. Research highlighted by the National Cancer Institute suggests that the more alcohol you drink – particularly the more you drink regularly – the higher your risk of developing cancer.

For marijuana, some research initially suggested a link between smoking and lung cancer, but that has been debunked. The January report found that cannabis was not connected to any increased risk of the lung cancers or head and neck cancers tied to smoking cigarettes.


Both drugs may be linked with risks while driving, but alcohol is worse.

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Unsplash / Michael Discenza

A research note published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (PDF) found that, when adjusting for other factors, having a detectable amount of THC (the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) in your blood did not increase the risk of being involved in a car crash. Having a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.05%, on the other hand, increased that risk by 575%.

Still, combining the two appears to have the worst results.

“The risk from driving under the influence of both alcohol and cannabis is greater than the risk of driving under the influence of either alone,” the authors of a 2009 review wrote in the American Journal of Addiction.


Several studies link alcohol with violence, particularly at home. That has not been found for cannabis.

It’s impossible to say whether drinking alcohol or using marijuana causes violence, but several studies – including a recent analysis published in the journal Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience – suggest a link between alcohol and violent behavior.

For a study published in January, researchers used fMRI scans to see how two alcoholic drinks impacts brain function in 50 healthy adult males. Compared with sober participants, the intoxicated volunteers were found to have reduced functioning in the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain linked with moderating social behavior. That reduced functioning was also linked with aggressive behavior.

The finding aligns with some previous research on alcohol’s connections with violence. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, alcohol is a factor in 40% of all violent crimes, and a study of college students found that the rates of mental and physical abuse were higher on days when couples drank.

On the other hand, no such relationship appears to exist for cannabis. A recent study looking at cannabis use and intimate partner violence in the first decade of marriage found that marijuana users were significantly less likely to commit violence against a partner than those who did not use the drug.


Both drugs negatively affect your memory — but in different ways. These effects are the most common in heavy, frequent, or binge users.

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Kristoffer Trolle/flickr

Both weed and alcohol temporarily impair memory, and alcohol can cause blackouts by rendering the brain incapable of forming memories. The most severe long-term effects are seen in heavy, chronic, or binge users who begin using in their teens.

Studies have found that these effects can persist for several weeks after stopping marijuana use. There may also be a link between daily weed use and poorer verbal memory in adults who start smoking at a young age.

Chronic drinkers display reductions in memory, attention, and planning, as well as impaired emotional processes and social cognition – and these can persist even after years of abstinence.


Both drugs are linked with an increased risk of psychiatric disease. For weed users, psychosis and schizophrenia are the main concern; with booze, it’s depression and anxiety.

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The largest review of marijuana studies found substantial evidence of an increased risk among frequent marijuana users of developing schizophrenia – something that studies have shown is a particular concern for people already at risk.

Weed can also trigger temporary feelings of paranoia and hostility, but it’s not yet clear whether those symptoms are linked with an increased risk of long-term psychosis.

On the other hand, self-harm and suicide are much more common among people who binge drink or drink frequently. But scientists have had a hard time deciphering whether excessive alcohol use causes depression and anxiety or whether people with depression and anxiety drink in an attempt to relieve those symptoms.


Alcohol appears to be linked more closely with weight gain, despite weed’s tendency to trigger the munchies.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Weed gives you the munchies. It makes you hungry, reduces the natural signals of fullness, and may even temporarily make food taste better.

But despite eating over 600 extra calories when smoking, marijuana users generally don’t have higher body-mass indexes. In fact, studies suggest that regular smokers have a slightly reduced risk of obesity.

Alcohol, on the other hand, appears to be linked with weight gain. A study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that people who drank heavily had a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese. Plus, alcohol itself is caloric: A can of beer has roughly 150 calories, and a glass of wine has about 120.


All things considered, alcohol’s effects seem markedly more extreme — and riskier — than marijuana’s.

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When it comes to addiction profiles and risk of death or overdose combined with ties to cancer, car crashes, violence, and obesity, the research suggests that marijuana may be less of a health risk than alcohol.

Still, because of marijuana’s largely illegal status, long-term studies on all its health effects have been limited – meaning more research is needed.

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Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

As anyone who has drunk a cup of coffee knows, not all drugs are equally harmful. Caffeine, the most widely consumed psychoactive drug on earth, is not a danger to human health.

To give people an idea of the most dangerous substances, a team of psychiatrists, chemists, and pharmacologists at the UK’s Royal College of Psychiatrists systematically ranked them based on three factors: how much physical harm they cause, how addictive they are, and how much damage they do to society as a whole, judging by things like costs spent on healthcare. They published their findings in the medical journal The Lancet.

Here are the drugs that rank highest for dependency:


To assess the danger of each drug, the scientists looked at three types of effects.

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Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

The following ranking focuses on dependency. The researchers further broke this category down into three factors that determine how addictive something is.

1. Pleasure, the euphoria a user feels on the drug; psychological dependence

2. The cravings a user experiences when the drug is withdrawn

3. Physical dependence, the headaches or other physical symptoms a user experiences when the drug is withdrawn


1. Heroin ranked the highest on the list in terms of dependency.

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Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

The drug received a full three out of three in terms of pleasure, cravings, and physical dependence.


2. Cocaine received a three out of three in terms of pleasure.

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Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

However, it was deemed to be slightly less psychologically addictive than heroin and about half as physically addictive.


3. In terms of psychological addictiveness, nicotine was ranked as almost as addictive as cocaine.

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Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

Nicotine received a 2.6 out of 3 compared to cocaine’s 2.8. But it was also deemed less pleasurable and far less physically addictive.


4. Barbiturates are sedative drugs that were once widely prescribed for anxiety.

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Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

This category includes brand-name drugs like Amobarbital and Thiopental. Barbiturates got a two out of three for overall dependency – they were ranked as less pleasurable and less physiologically and physically addictive than nicotine, heroin, and cocaine.


5. Alcohol was deemed less psychologically addictive than tobacco.

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Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

Alcohol and tobacco were ranked equally in terms of the “pleasure” aspect of their addictiveness, however, receiving a 2.3 out of 3. Alcohol and tobacco also had a similar physical dependence ranking overall.