Hydration and Alcohol

Find out which drinks are healthier choices, and how to get enough fluids every day to stay hydrated.

Water is a healthy and cheap choice to keep you hydrated, but other drinks can also count towards your fluid intake. We also get some fluids from the foods we eat. Learn why staying hydrated and reducing alcohol intake is important for your health.

Daily Fluid Intake

Most people should aim to drink enough during the day so their pee is a clear pale yellow colour. 

The Eatwell Guide recommends that people should aim to drink 6 to 8 cups or glasses of fluid a day. Water, lower-fat milk and sugar-free drinks, including tea and coffee, all count.

You may need to drink more fluids if you're:

  • pregnant or breastfeeding
  • in a hot environment
  • physically active for long periods
  • ill or recovering from illness

Fruit juice and smoothies also count towards your fluid consumption, but they contain free sugars that can damage teeth, so limit these drinks to a combined total of 150ml a day.



Did you know a standard glass of wine can contain up to 158 calories, and some pints of stronger lager can contain up to 222 calories? So, if you're trying to lose weight you need to think about what you are drinking as well as what you are eating.

Drinking 4 bottles of 12% strength wine a month adds up to a yearly consumption of up to 32,400kcal. Drinking 5 pints of 5.2% strength lager each week adds up to 57,720kcal in a year.

Wine, beer, cider, spirits and many more of our favourite drinks are made from natural starch and sugar. Fermentation (and distillation for certain drinks) is used to produce the alcohol content.

This is why alcohol contains lots of calories – 7 calories per gram, which is almost as many as a gram of fat. Plus, additional calories can be in added mixer drinks, such as cola or tonic water.

Regularly drinking more than the NHS recommends can have a noticeable impact on your waistline and cause less obvious, but more serious, health problems.

Men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week on a regular basis. 

Tips to avoid weight gain:

  • Have a glass of water after every alcoholic drink – this will help to prevent you becoming dehydrated.
  • Do not drink on an empty stomach. If you do reach for snacks while drinking, choose a healthier option.
  • Drinking in rounds can mean you end up drinking more than you intended. Instead, drink at your own pace.
  • Try cutting down with a friend, as you'll be more likely to stick to it with moral support.
  • Try drinking with a meal or eating a healthy dinner before you have drinks. This may help you eat less healthy options later in the evening.
  • Pace yourself by taking small sips.
  • Avoid "binge drinking" as this can lead to weight gain
  • If you're drinking white wine, why not add a splash of soda water to help the same number of units last longer?

NHS Drink Free Days app

Feel healthier, lose weight and save money by picking your days to go drink-free. One simple way to cut down is to have at least a few drink-free days every week, so choose yours and get practical support to stick with it. With the app you can: update and track your drink-free days, receive reminders when you need it most, celebrate milestones when you reach your targets and more!