Leading guidelines assert that moderate drinking can be determined as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. The same guidelines define binge drinking as 5 or more alcoholic drinks for males or 4 or more alcoholic drinks for females within 2 hours, or if the pattern of alcohol consumption brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 per cent.
What is a standard drink?
The size of the drink in your glass, can, or bottle does not necessarily correlate to how much alcohol is actually in it. Different types and brands of beer, wine, or malt liquor can have very different amounts of alcohol content. For example, many light beers have almost as much alcohol as regular beer—about 85% as much.
One unit of 100 millilitres/35 fl oz UK of an alcoholic beverage with 10% ABV contains 7.9 g of pure alcohol.
To help keep health risks low if you are a heavy user:
- Men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week regularly
- Spread your drinking over 3 or more days if you regularly drink as much as 14 units a week
- If you want to cut down, try to have several drink-free days each week
Understanding your limits
Becoming aware of the consequences and risks involved with drinking alcohol is often confusing as the research of moderate alcohol use in healthy adults isn’t certain.
There is not much evidence available about the risks or benefits of moderate alcohol use in healthy adults. Most studies about lifestyle, including diet, exercise, caffeine, and alcohol, rely on patient recall and truthful reporting of one’s habits over many years. Moderate alcohol use for healthy adults generally means up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men.
Examples of one drink include:
- Beer: 12 fluid ounces (355 millilitres)
- Wine: 5 fluid ounces (148 millilitres)
- Distilled spirits (80 proof ~ 40% alcohol): 1.5 fluid ounces (44 millilitres)
It’s worth remembering that even moderate alcohol use isn’t risk-free. Light drinkers (less than one a day) have a small but serious increased risk of some cancers. Of course, drinking and driving is never a good idea. ‘Too much’ is a difficult amount to define, but there are averages to go by. Understanding what a standard drink is, and your own limits is essential.