Dry January has passed but many “sober curious” individuals are cutting back on alcohol as a lifestyle choice. Are you trying to limit the alcohol in your diet?

What is a Standard Drink?

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans  moderate alcohol consumption is comprised of 2 drinks per day for males, and up to 1 drink per day for females. Understanding what a “drink” is measured as, is really important. Just like food, portions matter.

A serving, or “standard drink” is:

  • 1.5 ounce ounces liquor that’s 40%ABV
  • 5 ounces of wine (12%ABV)
  • 12-ounces beer (5% ABV)
  • 12-ounce other canned alcoholic beverage that’s 5%ABV.

What is ABV? ABV is an acronym for Alcohol By Volume. For liquors such as whiskey, gin, vodka or rum, this is also referred to as “proof”.  You’ll find the %ABV on the bottle or can of alcoholic drinks. The above portions are the volume of those liquids that provide equal amounts of alcohol. You can find a “standard drink” calculator here.

But don’t assume that one single-serving-can or a glass equals one standard drink!

There are a couple of important things to consider when assessing the 1-2 drink-a-day guideline. For one thing, today’s glassware is on the large side. You might pour a glass of wine thinking “It’s one glass” but in fact it’s close to 2 servings.

The same goes for craft beers. Many are 6.5 to 9% ABV. This means that you’re actually having one-and-a-half to two servings of alcohol, when you are “only having one”.

There are also many new mixed drinks or wine drinks in single-serving cans coming onto the market. Watch out for these, and check the portion and %ABV. One can may have 2 to 3 standard drinks in it.

Measure and Balance

As you can see in the photo of two wine glasses above, the 5-ounce fill line may be lower than you imagined. It might be a good idea to check out your favorite wine or martini glasses at home, and measure their volume.

A modern martini glass might hold up to 10 ounces. If filled, that would be the equivalent of 6 standard drinks. Using a shot glass to measure, can help you stay within the guideline. And visually, a smaller glass that’s nearly filled looks more satisfying.

Tips for Drinking Responsibly

  • Always eat before you drink alcohol.
  • Know how alcohol affects your body, and check with your doctor about any medicine you take that may interact with it.
  • Measure your liquor when mixing a drink at home using a standard shot glass (1.5 ounces) or measuring cup.
  • Alternate water or sparkling water with alcoholic beverages.
  • Never drink and drive.

As you continue to manage your lifestyle habits, learn more about consuming alcohol responsibly.