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Not all drinks are measured equally. It turns out, the amount of liquid you’re consuming doesn’t necessarily match up to how much alcohol you’re drinking. Different types of alcohol have different amounts of alcohol content — even when looking at drinks like a light beer vs an IPA.
This is why it’s important to understand what a “standard drink” actually is. In the United States, a standard drink is defined as 14 grams of pure ethanol. Conveniently, that comes out to 12oz of 5% ABV beer, 5oz of 12% ABV wine, and 1.5oz of 40% ABV hard liquor.
All you do is multiply the ABV percent on the label by the number of ounces you're consuming and then divide by 60.
(ABV% x oz) / 60
Let’s use Budweiser as an example. It's a 12oz can. It's 5% ABV. So we're going to do five times twelve, which is 60.
And then we're going to divide by 60, which is one. Therefore, a can of Budweiser is exactly one standard drink and contains 14 grams of pure ethanol.
Let’s complicate it a bit more with an IPA that sits at around 7% ABV. (7x12)=84. 84/60= 1.4 standard drinks.
So, while you’re only consuming 1 beer, you’re actually consuming 1.4 standard drinks.
Alcohol content isn’t the only measurable aspect of a drink. Turns out, added sugar is gram for gram as hard on your liver as alcohol. And when you start calculating the amount of sugar in your drinks (14 g of sugar = 14 g ethanol = 1 standard drink), the faster your total drinks consumed goes up. Take a look at our added sugar tip for more information!
If you want to make sure you’re consuming a true standard drink, stick to low ABV beers, dry wines, and 1.5 oz of liquor per drink.
“Heavy drinking” is defined by the CDC as 1+ drink a day for women (7+ a week) and 2+ drinks a day for men (14+ a week). As can be seen in the chart above, roughly 25% of Americans are “heavy drinkers.” In fact, while 30% of Americans are “drinkers” in the sense that they consume alcohol with any regularity, only about 5% of Americans classify as “moderate drinkers”. Therefore, almost all people that consume alcohol with any regularity are considered “heavy drinkers” and are at a significantly increased risk for liver disease.
The liver is an amazing organ in its ability to regenerate and heal itself. So, even if you’ve put it through the grinder throughout your years, it is never too late to adopt liver-healthy habits.