Eat well, Move more, Live longer

Alcohol units and guidelines

The low risk weekly guidelines

It can be a bit tricky to understand and remember how much alcohol is in drinks, and how this can affect our health. The low risk guidelines can help with this, if you choose to drink.

No-one can say that drinking alcohol is absolutely safe, but by sticking within these guidelines, you can lower your risk of harming your health if you drink most weeks:

  • Men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week.
  • Spread your drinking over three days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week.

If you want to cut down how much you’re drinking, a good way to help achieve this is to have several drink-free days each week.

Counting the units

Once you’ve got the hang of the low-risk guidelines, then check how many units are in your usual tipple. “ABV” means the percentage of alcohol in the drink and you can often find this information on the side of the bottle or can. The amount of alcohol in drinks can vary quite widely, and it’s worth looking for versions of your favourite drinks that have less alcohol, which can also be cheaper and often have less calories.

Glass of red, white or rose wine (ABV 13%)

Small 125ml

small 125ml glass = 1.6 units

Standard 175ml

standard 175ml glass = 2.3 units

Large 250ml

large 250ml glass = 3.3 units

750ml bottle of red, white or rose wine (ABV 13.5%)

10 units per bottle

Beer, lager and cider

Regular (ABV 4%)

regular lager = 1.8 unitsregular pint = 2.3 units

Strong (ABV 5.2%)

strong lager = 2.2 unitsstrong pint = 3 units

Extra strong (ABV 8%)

extra strong lager = 3.5 unitsextra strong pint = 4.5 pints

Other drinks (ABV varies)

25ml single spirit and mixer

(ABV 40%)

1 units

275ml bottle of alcopop

(ABV 5.5%)

1.5 units

Medical warning: if you have physical withdrawal symptoms (like shaking, sweating, or feeling anxious until you have a first drink of the day), you should take medical advice before stopping completely as it can be dangerous to do this too quickly without proper advice and support.

Choose less booze

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