A couple of drinks are fine, right? Everyone does it… but did you know that for a woman, having 4 or more drinks in one sitting is considered binge drinking? (For guys, it’s 5 or more drinks.)
Whether you’re toasting to a special occasion or treating yourself after a hard week, binge drinking puts you at risk of violence, car crashes and unplanned pregnancies. Beyond the safety issues, binge drinking can lead to long-term health issues, including liver and heart diseases, certain cancers and sexually transmitted diseases.
Sadly, 1 in 6 Americans binge on alcohol more than 4 times a month, says the CDC, especially people ages 18–24 years old.
As women, the differences in our body structure cause us to absorb more alcohol, and it takes longer to remove it from our bodies, making alcohol’s effects occur more quickly and last longer.
Binge drinking can disrupt our menstrual cycle and increase our risks of infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, and premature delivery.
If the health implications aren’t enough to convince you, consider this: alcohol dehydrates you, making your skin appear dull and tired and your hair and nails brittle. And at 7 calories per gram, alcohol contains more calories than many foods—bad news for your waistline. In fact, women who drink heavily regularly consume 30 percent more calories than women who drink in moderation, says The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
US Dietary Guidelines recommend no more than 1 alcoholic drink per day for women. That’s 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol—or less than half of the standard 1.5 ounce “shot.”
Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in:
Serving sizes matter; a single cocktail may in fact contain as much alcohol as 3 standard drinks.