Binge drinking itself has increased, including among middle- and older-aged adults, as has mortality from fully alcohol-attributable causes of death, including alcoholic liver disease. Other than energy (i.e., calorie) intake, alcohol provides little nutritional value. Because alcohol is not a component of USDA food pattern guidance, its added energy is discretionary and should be considered in the present context of high and increasing obesity prevalence.

Like many other drinks, alcoholic beverages have calories that can build up quickly. Going out for a couple of drinks can add 500 calories or more to your daily intake. Most alcoholic beverages are quite low in nutrients. You should monitor how much alcohol you consume if you want to lose weight or keep it off. Cocktails mixed with soda, juice, cream, or ice cream can have especially high-calorie counts.

Standard drink

A standard drink is a measure of how much pure alcohol you are drinking. It varies based on the concentration of alcohol in a beverage.

In Canada, a standard drink is 17.05 milliliters or 13.45 grams of pure alcohol. This is the equivalent of:

a bottle of beer (12 oz., 341 ml, 5% alcohol)

a bottle of cider (12 oz., 341 ml, 5% alcohol)

a glass of wine (5 oz., 142 ml, 12% alcohol)

a shot glass of spirits (1.5 oz., 43 ml, 40% alcohol)

Canada’s low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines

Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines can help you make informed decisions about drinking. The guidelines recommend setting limits to help you reduce the acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) health risks of alcohol use.

It is important to keep in mind that:

  • the intention of these guidelines is not to encourage people who abstain (for cultural, spiritual, health or other reasons) to start drinking
  • these are “low-risk” guidelines, not “no-risk” guidelines. Any amount of alcohol consumption can have risks to your health

The guidelines for consumption limits


limit alcohol to no more than:

  • 2 standard drinks per day
  • 10 standard drinks per week
  • 3 standard drinks on special occasions
  • avoid drinking alcohol on some days


limit alcohol to no more than:

  • 3 standard drinks per day
  • 15 standard drinks per week
  • 4 standard drinks on special occasions
  • avoid drinking alcohol on some days

Pregnant women:

avoid drinking alcohol

Youth, with parental consent:

  • limit alcohol to:
  • no more than twice weekly
  • no more than 1 or 2 standard drinks each time

For more information, read the article below!

How many calories are there in alcoholic beverages?

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