What exactly counts as “a drink”?

It’s the Holidays and we’re busy with lots of get-togethers. You know you should drink alcohol “in moderation,” but what does that mean exactly? And what counts as “a drink” or “standard serving”?

According to Éduc’alcool, drinking in moderation is defined as follows:

  • For women, 2 drinks per day, without exceeding a total of 10 drinks per week
  • For men, 3 drinks per day, without exceeding a total of 15 drinks per week

It is recommended not to drink every day, instead alternating between days when you drink and days when you don’t.

According to Éduc’alcool, in order to avoid the risks of intoxication, women should not exceed 3 drinks at any single occasion. For men, that limit is 4 drinks.

But what exactly counts as one drink? A standard serving corresponds to:

  • Beer with 5% alcohol: 340 ml (12 oz.), the equivalent of a regular bottle
  • Wine with 12% alcohol: 140 ml (5 oz.), approximately ½ cup
  • Hard liquor with 40% alcohol: 45 ml (1.5 oz.), approximately 3 tablespoons
  • Fortified wines with 20% alcohol: 85 ml (3 oz.), approximately 1/3 cup
  • Cider with 6% alcohol: 280 ml (10 oz.), a bit more than a cup

Since alcohol content varies from one product to another, take the time to check the percentage of alcohol in the beverage and adjust your intake accordingly. The higher the alcohol content, the smaller the serving should be. For example, if you drink a microbrewery beer with 8% alcohol, one drink equals 212 ml rather than 340 ml.

Also pay attention to the bottle size. Some beer bottles contain 500 ml (the equivalent of 1.5 drinks) or even as much as 750 ml (2 drinks).

A great tip for a long evening without excesses: Drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink. This will help counter the dehydration caused by alcohol, while also slowing down how fast you drink. And never drink on an empty stomach.

For more advice on alcohol consumption, visit the Éduc’alcool website: http://educalcool.qc.ca/en/

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