Alcohol Consumption Guidelines for Men

Good news: having a couple of beers with your buddies probably won't hurt your health. In fact, while it's clear that drinking lots of alcohol can be very harmful, there is a lot of evidence that drinking small amounts of alcohol is good for you, contributing to heart health and even boosting your creativity and staving off Alzheimer's disease.

Person at a table holding a glass of beer
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How Much Alcohol Is Safe?

Research suggests men (and women) who consume one or two alcoholic drinks per day have a lower death rate from coronary heart disease than abstainers. The recommended safe intake for men is no more than three units of alcohol a day, or 21 units per week.

Units of alcohol should not be confused with the number of drinks, as many common drinks count as more than one unit.

One unit of alcohol is the equivalent to:

  • Half a pint of beer containing (3%-4% alcohol by volume)
  • A small measure of spirit containing (40% alcohol by volume)

One and a half units of alcohol is equivalent to:

  • A small glass of wine (12% alcohol by volume)
  • A standard, single shot-sized measure of spirits (40% alcohol by volume)

Men should drink no more than four units of alcohol in a single day and should have at least two alcohol-free days per week.

Health Benefits of Alcohol

Whether your drink of choice is wine, beer, champagne or liquor, moderate consumption could have some health benefits.

Research shows that drinking the amount of alcohol that is considered within the healthy range can help relieve stress, increase your HDL (good) cholesterol, lower your risk for heart disease, boost creativity and lower your risk for Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Dangers of Alcohol

The benefits noted above are outweighed when you drink more than a couple of drinks a day. In those cases, drinking alcohol can do much more harm than good. Alcohol use disorder can very negatively affect your brain, heart, liver, and pancreas.

Changes in mood and behavior, high blood pressure, stroke, alcoholic hepatitis, fatty liver disease, pancreatitis, and cancers of the mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, and breast are all possible side effects of overconsumption of alcohol.

The Takeaway

If you choose to drink, you should have no more than a couple of drinks a night and no more than 21 units of alcohol per week. Living a healthy lifestyle can produce the same benefits listed above. Seek medical help if you are drinking too much and having trouble cutting back.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much alcohol consumption is considered binge drinking?

    Binge drinking is defined as any drinking pattern that brings a person's blood alcohol concentration to 0.08%. This is equal to approximately five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women in about two hours or during one occasion.

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

    Anyone with the following medical conditions should limit or avoid alcohol completely as it may exacerbate the condition: mental health issues, including depression and anxiety; high blood pressure; liver disease; a weakened immune system; and certain types of cancer, including mouth, liver, and colon.

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3 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. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source. Alcohol: Balancing Risks and Benefits.

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

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol use and your health. Updated May 11, 2021.

Additional Reading
  • National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (n.d.). Alcohol's Effects on the Body.

  • Recommended Safe Limits of Alcohol. (2015, August 4).

  • Szalavitz, M., & Szalavitz, M. (2012, March 22). How Getting Tipsy May Inspire Creativity.

  • Brien, S. E., Ronksley, P. E., Turner, B. J., Mukamal, K. J., & Ghali, W. A. (2011). Effect of alcohol consumption on biological markers associated with risk of coronary heart disease: Systematic review and meta-analysis of interventional studies. Bmj, 342(Feb22 1), D636-D636.
  • Jarrett, N., Peatfield, R., & Glover, V. (1997). Red wine is less stress reducing than vodka; no differences in neuroendocrine challenge test. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 11(3), 283-286.
  • Yao, J., Zhang, B., Ge, C., Peng, S., & Fang, J. (2015). Xanthohumol, a Polyphenol Chalcone Present in Hops, Activating Nrf2 Enzymes To Confer Protection against Oxidative Damage in PC12 Cells. J. Agric. Food Chem. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 63(5), 1521-1531.