Alcohol and Units – What Does It All Mean?

Dietitians may well encourage you to drink as little as possible, after all alcoholic drinks are usually full of calories, once you have one you tend to drink another and you can very quickly pile on the pounds!

However the official guidelines are -
Men are advised to drink no more than 3 to 4 units a day.
Women are advised to drink no more than 2 to 3 units a day.  

So what is a unit?  1 unit is equal to - 

  • ½ pint beer Alcohol
  • 1 glass wine
  • 1 measure of spirits

The government recommended safe limits are: 

  • Men 21 units per week
  • Women 14 units per week

The list below shows the number of units of alcohol in common drinks –  

A pint of ordinary strength lager 

(e.g. Heineken, Fosters) 

2 units 

A pint of strong lager 

(e.g. Stella Artois, Kronenbourg 1664) 

3 units 

A pint of ordinary strength cider 

(e.g. Bulmers, Cashels) 

2 units 

A pint of ordinary strength stout 

(e.g. Guiness, Murphys) 

2 units 

A 175ml glass of red or white wine 

Around 2 units 

A pub measure of spirits 

1 unit 

An alcopop 

(e.g. Smirnoff Ice, Bacardi Breezer, WKD) 

Around 1.5 units 


How do you change your drinking habits? 

  • Try to eat before you drink, so you won’t miss out on essential nutrients.
  • Try non-alcoholic drinks instead of alcohol.
  • Dilute alcoholic drinks with low calorie mixers or water.
  • Try drinking more slowly – take smaller sips and pace your drinking.
  • Refrain from drinking for 48 hours after a heavy drinking occasion.
  • Don’t snack while drinking alcohol, remember that eating crisps and nuts will add to the calories and fat you consume. Salty foods will make you thirstier.

Tags: , , , , , ,