Alcohol Consumption Guidelines for Men

Good news: Having a couple of beers with your buddies probably won't hurt your health. What it comes down to is how much and how often you drink.

It's clear that drinking lots of alcohol can be very harmful. But there's also some evidence that drinking small amounts can be good for you. Having a couple of drinks may improve heart health.

This article goes over how much alcohol men can safely drink. You'll also learn the possible health benefits and risks of drinking alcohol.

Person at a table holding a glass of beer
Verity E. Milligan / Moment / Getty Images

How Much Alcohol Is Safe?

First, if you don't drink, don't start. It's true that drinking alcohol may have some health benefits. But there are healthier ways to get the same benefits, like exercising.

If you do choose to drink, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend drinking in moderation. You've probably heard this phrase before. But what does it actually mean?

For men, moderate drinking is two "standard" drinks or less per day. A standard drink (also called drink-equivalent) is 14 grams of pure alcohol.

Don't worry—you don't have to do any hard math equations to figure out how much you can drink. One standard drink of alcohol is the same as:

  • 12 ounces of beer containing 5% alcohol
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor containing 7% alcohol
  • A small, 5-ounce glass of wine containing 12% alcohol
  • A shot of spirit or liquor (1.5 ounces) containing 40% alcohol

Certain drinks—whether it's a cocktail or pint of beer— will count as more than one standard drink. If your cocktail has two shots of liquor, it counts as two standard drinks. The same goes for a pint of craft beer with 7% alcohol—it's closer to two standard drinks.

Just because moderate drinking allows up to two drinks per day doesn't mean you should drink every day. And it also doesn't mean you can "save up" several days' worth of drinks and have them all in one day.

In fact, that's when moderate drinking turns into binge drinking or heavy drinking. For men, heavy drinking is having more than 14 drinks a week.

Recap

If you choose to drink alcohol, drink in moderation. Men should have no more than two standard drinks a day, and less than 15 drinks a week. Keep in mind that your drink might count as more than one standard drink.

Health Benefits of Alcohol

You might enjoy wine, beer, champagne, or liquor. Whatever you prefer, moderate drinking could have some health benefits.

Drinking alcohol can increase HDL (good) cholesterol and lower heart disease risk. That explains why experts might say moderate drinking can be good for your heart.

Some research suggests adults who have one or two alcoholic drinks a day are less likely to die from heart disease than people who don't drink.

Dangers of Alcohol

When you drink more than a couple of drinks a day, the benefits go away. In these cases, drinking alcohol can do much more harm than good.

Heavy drinking can have very negative effects on your brain, heart, liver, and pancreas.

Potential side effects of drinking too much alcohol are:

Summary

The health effects of alcohol all depend on how much or how often you drink. Drinking in moderation may help protect your heart. Moderate drinking is one or two standard drinks a day for men.

But drinking large amounts can be bad for your health. Heavy drinking is 15 or more drinks a week for men. This can increase your risk of certain cancers, liver disease, and heart disease. Talk to your doctor if you're worried about how much you're drinking.

A Word From Verywell

If you choose to drink, don't drink more than a couple of alcoholic drinks a night. Drink less than 15 standard drinks per week.

Living a healthy lifestyle can give you the same benefits as moderate drinking. Get medical help if you're drinking too much and have trouble cutting back.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much alcohol consumption is considered binge drinking?

    Binge drinking is five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women in about two hours.

  • Who should avoid any alcohol consumption due to medical conditions?

    Anyone with the following conditions should limit or avoid alcohol:

    • Mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety
    • High blood pressure
    • Liver disease
    • Weakened immune system
    • Certain types of cancer, such as mouth, liver, and colon
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5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th edition.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol use and your health.

  3. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source. Alcohol: balancing risks and benefits.

  4. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol's effects on the body.

  5. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Drinking levels defined.