How many calories do we get from booze?

Adam Sherk, post-doctoral fellow at the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research. Credit: Jonathan Woods

As Canadians are preparing to fire up the grill for the last big weekend of the summer, it might come as a surprise to hear that we are consuming as many calories in our beers as we are in our burgers. 

A recent study, led by Adam Sherk, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR) and published in the Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, calculated just how many calories Canadian drinkers were ingesting via alcohol. It turns out that the average drinker consumes 250 calories, or 11% of their daily estimated energy requirements, via alcohol—every single day. 

“That’s like eating an extra bag of chips every day,” explained Sherk. “If we look at binge drinking, or having something like four or five drinks on one occasion, it’s actually closer to 550 calories, which is about 25% of the recommended daily caloric intake. That’s the equivalent of a double cheeseburger with all the fixings.” 

Not that most people would necessarily be aware of how many calories they were consuming via booze; alcoholic beverage containers, unlike those of other food and drinks, are not required to have nutritional labelling. Sherk and his co-authors close their paper with a call for comprehensive labels on alcohol containers. 

“Given that the updated Canada Food Guide specifically highlights the importance of cutting back on sugary drinks, including alcohol, we think nutritional labels would be valuable,” says Sherk. “Labels could also be used to communicate information about alcohol’s other health risks, including cancer, stroke and heart disease, or details about Canada’s Low Risk Drinking Guidelines.”


A press kit containing infographics and a high-resolution photo of the author is available on Dropbox.

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Media contacts

Adam Sherk (Pos-doctoral fellow, CISUR) at 250-853-3235 or

Amanda Farrell-Low (CISUR Communications Officer) at 250-472-5445 or

Suzanne Ahearne (University Communications + Marketing) at 250-721-6139 or

In this story

Keywords: alcohol, health, CISUR

People: Adam Sherk

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