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How many calories are your favourite festive drinks racking up?

'Tis the season to indulge in mulled wine, Baileys, Prosecco and more... but it's handy to know what you're consuming to maintain some balance.

Friends drinking Christmas drinks, to represent calories in them. (Getty Images)
Some Christmas drinks can be more high in calories than others. (Getty Images)

Christmas is often considered to be 'the most wonderful time of the year' – and for some it's often the most boozy.

While there's nothing wrong with clinking glasses with friends and family, whether your favourite is a mince pie martini or classic Baileys, it can be useful to know what you're consuming.

That's partly because alcohol is extremely calorie-rich, containing seven per gram, according to the NHS. "Wine, beer, cider, spirits and many more of our favourite drinks are made from natural starch and sugar," the site explains. "Fermentation (and distillation for certain drinks) is used to produce the alcohol content."

And along with the booze, comes additional calories in the form of festive mixers, such as lemonade or coke. So, regularly sinking Snowballs during the party season might not be great for your overall health, in part because the calories from alcohol are considered to be 'empty calories', as they do not help the body meet its nutritional needs.

Read more: What is the drink-drive limit? Plus we reveal areas of UK most likely to break law after Christmas party

Friends toasting Champagne at Christmas. (Getty Images)
Champagne is actually one of the more low-cal Christmas drinks. (Getty Images)

One British study previously found that on the heaviest drinking day of the week, calories from alcoholic drinks made up 19% and 27% of the recommended daily calorie intake for women and men, respectively.

And that was just on a regular week, not during the social demands of Christmas and New Year.

While December is often considered a time for being merry, simply being aware of what’s in our much-loved seasonal drinks can help prevent us from overdoing it.

How many calories are your favourite festive drinks?

"The festive period is often a time for over-consuming on alcohol. People don’t always consume just one, so the calories can really stack up," explains nutritionist Jenna Hope.

But the amount varies greatly depending on the celebratory drink you're opting for.

"One beer contains 365kcals, one small glass of wine (175ml) contains around 160kcal and one single serving of spirits contains around 60kcals," she adds.

"Meanwhile pre-mixed festive cocktails also contain a large number of calories due to high sugar mixers."

Christmas drinks are often high in sugars and fats too.

"For example, festive creamy cocktails can contain around 400kcals per serving. Mulled wine is another festive favourite and can be particularly high in sugar and contain around 250kcals per glass," says Hope.

Thankfully by making some smarter choices at the bar this Christmas, you might just be able to weigh up whether that third glass of mulled wine is worth the damage.

While each will vary sightly, here's a breakdown of how many calories are in each drink...

Read more: How to beat a festive hangover

Christmas table setting with holiday decorations in a gold color. New Year celebration. A bottle and glass of champagne
Glass of champers, darling? That's 86 calories, enjoy! (Getty Images)

Champagne

If you're planning to push the boat out and toast the holidays with a glass of the fine stuff, you'll likely be sinking around 86 calories per 125ml glass.

Prosecco

Prosecco is often considered to be a lower calorie option to its festive fizz counterparts, but according to Drink Aware a 125ml glass usually contains around 86 calories, the same as a glass of champers.

For a lower calorie hit, ‘Skinny Prosecco’ products are also available and have around 67 calories per glass.

Buck's Fizz

Starting your Christmas day with a glass of Buck's Fizz? It's worth noting that while the alcohol content will be reduced, the calorie content is similar to that of a glass of Prosecco at around 67 calories.

Who doesn't love a Baileys at Christmas? (Getty Images)
Who doesn't love a Baileys at Christmas? (Getty Images)

Baileys

Who doesn't love a glass of Baileys at Christmas/the entire winter? But a glass of the creamy stuff can certainly clock up the calories.

To cut them, you could try switching to the vegan version. According to Jacques Scott Wines and Spirits a glass of Baileys Almande is just 67 calories compared to the 164 calories in a glass of regular Baileys. What's more it is gluten-free and dairy-free with very low carbs.

Mulled wine

According to Weight Loss Resources, a small glass of mulled wine (120ml) could contain up to around 230 calories.

"Where possible, try making your own with less sugar and using your own spices rather than a pre-made bottle," suggests Hope.

Eggnog

While you may think of the creamy drink as an American thing, it's thought that eggnog originated in Britain, and became popular over the Christmas period because of its warm temperature and seasonal seasonings (try saying that after a few mulled wines!).

Because it is made with milk, egg and sugar, eggnog is one of the most indulgent Christmas drinks and contains a pretty hefty 350 calories – more if you throw in a shot of alcohol.

Read more: Why do we get anxious when hungover? 'Hanxiety' explained by expert

Creamy Christmas cocktails could clock up the calories. (Getty Images)
Creamy Christmas cocktails could clock up the calories. (Getty Images)

Cider

Seasonal drinks aren't for everyone, and if your festive drink of choice remains a pint of cider you could be sinking around 210 calories, as many as a sugared donut, according to Drink Aware.

Beer

While not traditionally a Christmas drink, if you're sticking to your normal pint this Christmas you can still expect to clock up the calories. According to the site, some pints of lager can contain 180 calories, the equivalent to a slice of pizza.

Meanwhile, Christmas stouts and ales can be as calorific as a whole bagel (around 250 calories).

Watch: Three Christmas cocktail ideas.

Brandy

Leaving a warming glass of brandy out for Father Christmas? A 50ml measure will mean he’ll be taking on about 103.5 calories.

And at around 40% ABV, he’ll likely not be able to drive the sleigh after a few trips down the chimney.

Gin and tonic

While not confined to festive drinking, there are various wintry flavours of gin around this time of year, with each 25ml measure adding up to 97 calories.

To reduce your calorie intake, Drink Aware suggests trying tonic water, ice and lemon mixed in a glass, which can give you a gin and tonic-style taste without the alcohol.

Plus, premium alcohol-free ‘spirits’ are now growing in popularity, and make a great base for alcohol-free cocktails.

Snowball

If you're looking to sup a Snowball this season, you'll consume about 117 calories in a 120ml glass.

Make your own mulled wine to reduce the calories. (Getty Images)
Make your own mulled wine to reduce the calories. (Getty Images)

How to reduce your alcohol calorie intake this Christmas

While you don't have to cut out alcohol completely, unless that's what's right for you, there are ways to enjoy festive drinks more healthily.

Drink plenty (of other drinks)

According to dietician Helen Bond, even during the winter months it is important to drink plenty of fluids (six – eight glasses a day) to stay hydrated and make sure you’re not relying on alcoholic drinks to quench your thirst.

"Water is best – it is calorie and sugar free, so good for waistlines and teeth," Bond says.

"Lower fat milks, tea and coffee (without added sugar or syrups), and sugar-free squash also count towards fluid intakes."

Experiment with sugar and calorie-free drinks

There are 11 different low- and no-calorie sweeteners approved for use in the UK, including familiar ones such as acesulfame K, aspartame, sucralose, and stevia.

"Each has its own unique taste profile," explains Bond. "Try to experiment with different low- and sugar-free soft drink brands to see what option – or combination – is most appealing."

Add natural freshness

Mix up your Christmassy drinks flavours by adding something fresh. "Lemon and lime wedges, mint and basil leaves, cucumber slices or berries can make drinks taste amazing, without adding extra calories or sugar," Bond recommends.

"Frozen festive fruit is also a great way to add vitamins and a punchy zing this holiday season and it has the added bonus of keeping your drinks cool too."

Read more: How to cut down on alcohol this Christmas, without missing out

Making home made gin and tonic
Throw in some fruit for a little health hit. (Getty Images)

Get creative with cocktail mixers

You don't have to cut out the all-essential mixers entirely.

"If you want a festive tipple lower in free sugars and calories, why not try making your own?" Bond suggests.

"You can normally halve the sugar content of classic festive cocktails by using a low-or-no calorie granulated sweetener."

Have a few alcohol-free days per week

As alcoholic drinks contain empty calories, it is best to avoid consuming them every day, no matter how many Christmas parties you're invited to.

Swap out the syrups

You can still get the taste you want, in a more natural way.

"Try muddling fresh fruits, fresh herbs and fresh spices to optimise flavour rather than using flavoured syrups or high sugar mixers," suggests Hope.

If you're worried that your drinking is unhealthy, you can visit drinkaware.co.uk to chat to a professional or for information on alcohol advice visit the NHS website.