Alcohol units and guidelines

The lower risk daily 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 lower risk guidelines can help with this. All you really need to do, if you choose to drink, is to stick within the guidelines below. There’s one for women and one for men.

No one can say that drinking alcohol is absolutely safe, but by keeping within these guidelines, there’s only a low risk of causing harm in most circumstances.

Women

Men

Should not regularly* drink more than:

Women can have 2-3 units a day

That’s no more than a standard 175ml glass of wine (ABV 13%)

Men can have 3-4 units a day

That’s not much more than a pint of strong lager, beer or cider (ABV 5.2%)

* "Regularly" means drinking this amount most days or every day.

Counting the units

Once you’ve got the hang of the lower-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

Want to check for yourself?

Our drinks checker can help you understand the units in most common drinks, and count them.

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.

Drinks tracker

Drinks tracker app

Track your drinks at home or on the town with our new free smartphone app
Download the app

Choose less booze

Want to make some changes?

How are your eating, drinking and activity habits? We can help you make some healthy changes

Join Change4Life - free!

Smart swap is a registered trade mark of the Licensor and is used under licence