When it comes to alcohol, you may hear different messages about whether it is good or bad for your health. You may also wonder ‘how much is too much?’
High blood pressure is the top risk for stroke. Drinking less alcohol is just one of the ways you can reduce your risk.
Research found that less than 3% of Irish adults can correctly identify the HSE low-risk guidelines for alcohol consumption. Drinking above these guidelines can increase your chance of developing high blood pressure.
Keep track and always stick to the low-risk guidelines for alcohol consumption. Remember, these are guidelines – not a target.
The recommended maximum weekly limits for men and women
For women, the recommended maximum limit is 11 standard drinks a week. For men, the recommended maximum limit is 17 standard drinks a week.
What is a standard drink?
A standard drink is a specific quantity, based on it containing 10 grams of alcohol.
1 pint = 2 standard drinks
1 small glass of wine (100 ml) = 1 standard drink
1 spirit – Pub single measure = 1 standard drink
1 bottle of wine (750 ml) = 7 standard drinks
Remember, these are guidelines – not a target.
Alcohol, calories and weight
Being overweight increases your risk of having a stroke. Alcoholic drinks tend to be very high in calories, so regularly drinking lots of alcohol can make it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight.
How many calories are in alcohol? There are 7 calories in a gram of alcohol so it’s second only to fat in terms of being a very concentrated source of calories – fat has 9 calories per gram.
Alcohol delays the fat-burning process – alcohol delays your weight loss efforts because it slows the fat-burning process down. When undergoing a program, you should try to maximise your metabolism level.
How much alcohol causes weight gain If a man drinks up to 17 standard drinks a week, that’s 1,700 calories just from alcohol. This can lead to weight gain of about one and a half stone a year. For women, 11 standard drinks a week is 1100 calories a week and this can translate to gaining a stone in a year.
How can I cut down?
Space out your alcohol over a week and keep at least three days alcohol-free.
Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
Try not to get into rounds or if it is your round, opt for a non-alcoholic drink.
Make sure you have eaten beforehand if you’re having alcohol. It’s better for your body to process alcohol with food as it lessens the effects of alcohol.
Pace yourself when drinking – take small sips and take the time to savour the drink rather than consuming it quickly.
Switch to smaller glasses – this will mean you’ll consume closer to the standard drink size.
Keep a drink diary for a week to see how much alcohol you’re drinking. Try the one in our magazine!