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Day 3: Alcohol – know your units!

What is a unit of alcohol?

A unit is a specific amount of pure alcohol.

How many units each drink contains depends upon its volume and the percentage of alcohol in that volume.  So, whilst it’s helpful to understand how much alcohol you’re drinking, the whole issue of units can be difficult and confusing to work out. It’s not simply the case that every different type of beer or wine contains the same number of units of alcohol.

What is the recommended alcohol consumption?

First of all, let’s be clear on the recommended weekly alcohol consumption.  The Chief Medical Officer recommends no more than 14 units of alcohol per week for both men and women.

How many units of alcohol are in my drink (and how many calories)?

The following calculated units per drink can be used to work out your own consumption:

Pint of beer (4%): 2.3 units,  (182kcal)

Pint of cider (4.5%): 2.6 units,  (216kcal)

Wine (175ml, 11%): 2.3 units,  (159kcal)

Spirits (1 shot, 40%): 1 unit, (61kcal (+mixer))

Using the numbers above, and to keep to the recommended 14 units per week, that comes to approximately 6 pints of beer or 6 x 175ml glasses of wine.

It is also recommended that these drinks are spread out over the course of the week and not consumed in one session.

What’s the problem with drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week?

Excessive alcohol consumption can cause many health problems including increased risk of different cancers, liver disease, stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure as well as having a negative impact on mental health problems. It’s also important to recognise that alcohol can be highly calorific, therefore regular high consumption can contribute to weight gain.

Today we are challenging you to tot up the amount of alcohol you consume in an average week.  Are you comfortable with the figure you produce?

Do get in touch if your favourite tipple doesn’t fit one of the categories above – we’ll be happy to provide a calculation for you.

You're never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream