What does drinking in moderation mean?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

For men under the age of 65, two drinks a day is considered moderate drinking. If you're female or a male over the age of 66, moderate drinking means one drink a day. Keep in mind that these guidelines are for healthy individuals and that the definition of a drink is:

  • 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor
  • One 12 ounce glass of beer
  • A five ounce glass of wine

Remember, the less you drink, the less likely you are to develop a hangover.

Emilia Klapp
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

In general, moderation means ingesting no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. One drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 1/2 ounces of distilled liquor.

Everyone metabolizes alcohol differently. U.S. health officials define moderate drinking as one drink per day for women and two drinks for men.

The type of alcohol also matters. One drink could be one of the following:

  • one 12-ounce (oz) bottle of beer that contains 4.5 percent alcohol
  • one 12-oz wine cooler (4 percent to 6 percent alcohol)
  • one 5-oz glass of wine (with 12.9 percent alcohol)
  • 1.5 oz of 80-proof distilled liquor, such as whiskey, vodka or gin

However, depending on the alcohol content of the drink, the amount could be more or less.

This content originally appeared on

Neal Spruce
Neal Spruce on behalf of dotFIT
Fitness Specialist

Moderate alcohol consumption is considered 2 drinks/day for men; 1 for women. One drink contains 14 grams of alcohol meaning: one 12 oz beer (5 percent alcohol), one 5 oz glass of wine (12 percent) or one 1.5 oz of hard liquor (40 percent or 80 proof). It does appear that alcohol itself, and not the source, is responsible for the benefits. Benefits of moderate alcohol consumption: reduced risk of heart attack and stroke; increases HDL (good cholesterol) and reduces 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 down side is that moderate drinking was recently associated with increased risk of breast cancer in woman. Additionally, it can lead to excessive drinking that is not only extremely detrimental to YOUR health but also to the health of people around you. So keep it moderate or don’t drink.* All this said moderate drinking appears to be part of a healthy diet.

*Although high consumption of alcohol (2-3 times more than moderate) was still associated with a reduction in heart disease, drinking more than 2-4 drinks daily dramatically increases the risks of consuming more, which not only will negate any benefits, but will also lead to disease and danger to others.

Drinking in moderation means 2 beers or less per day for men; 1 beer or less per day for women (with no weekend binge drinking).

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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.