How much alcohol should I drink a day?

Alcohol is in wine, beer, and liquor such as whiskey, vodka, and rum. Alcohol gives you calories but no nutrition. Drinking too much alcohol can cause health problems like liver disease and high blood pressure. It can also lead to weight gain. If you do drink alcohol, don't have more than 1 or 2 drinks a day. This amount can be healthy for most people.

Manuel Villacorta
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

The amount of alcohol a person can drink safely depends on the type of alcohol they consume. Generally, a serving size is considered to be: four ounces of wine, ten ounces of a wine cooler, twelve ounces of beer, or one and a half ounces of distilled liquor. If you are not trying to lose weight, the National Institute of Health recommends that women drink no more than one serving size per day and men no more than two (this is recommended only if you are not pregnant, lactating, have alcohol dependencies, diseases, or are taking medications that interact negatively with alcohol).

Eating Free: The Carb-Friendly Way to Lose Inches, Embrace Your Hunger, and Keep Weight Off for Good

More About this Book

Eating Free: The Carb-Friendly Way to Lose Inches, Embrace Your Hunger, and Keep Weight Off for Good

Eating Free reveals why the prevailing wisdom on weight loss--low-calorie, no carbs, high-intensity exercise--sharply clashes with the facts of human biology and human nature, setting dieters up for...
Neal Spruce
Neal Spruce on behalf of dotFIT
Fitness Specialist

There is no “should” drink recommendations for alcohol, but health benefits have been associated with moderate alcohol consumption (2 drinks/day for men; 1 for women). The benefits of moderate alcohol consumption include reduced risk of heart attack and stroke; increased HDL (good cholesterol) and reduced blood clotting, which is probably the reason for a reduction on heart attacks and strokes. Additionally, just recently moderate alcohol consumption was connected to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, gallstones and cognitive decline. The downside is that moderate drinking can lead to excessive drinking that is not just extremely detrimental to YOUR health but also to the health of people around you. So keep it moderate or don’t drink.

One drink contains 14 grams of alcohol, meaning one 12 oz beer (5% alcohol), one 5 oz glass of wine (12%), and one 1.5 oz of hard liquor (40% or 80 proof) are each one drink. It does appear that alcohol itself, and not the source, is responsible for the benefits.

If you’re a woman, one drink a day is recommended, and if you’re a man, two drinks. One drink is 12-ounces of beer, a five-ounce glass of wine and 1.5 ounces of spirits.

Alcohol intake is all about balance. And, the line between drinking in moderation and drinking too much, is very small. You can quickly go from drinking in moderation to drinking too much and all the benefits of that first glass of alcohol will disappear. That’s why drinking in moderation is key.  

In 2010, the American Heart Association released guidelines stating men can have up to two “drinks” a night and women are limited to one.

A "drink" is considered 12 ounces of 4% alcohol beer, a four-ounce glass of wine or a 1.5-ounce shot.

So, what about the people who only drink on the weekends? Unfortunately, we cannot save up the nightly drink allocations and use them on the weekend. 

Continue Learning about Alcohol & Health

Combating Drunk Driving in Hawaii
Combating Drunk Driving in Hawaii
Drunk driving is a crime. Getting behind the wheel while intoxicated not only puts your life in danger, it puts the lives of innocent victims at risk....
Read More
How can I enjoy alcohol safely?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
The best way to enjoy alcohol safely is to drink only in moderation. Recommendations are that women ...
More Answers
What's a healthy alternative to wine?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
You get plenty of health benefits from a glass of wine, but not if you pour too much. To learn about...
More Answers
Is One Night of Binge Drinking Worse Than Drinking Every Night?
Is One Night of Binge Drinking Worse Than Drinking Every Night?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.