A "Standard Drink" and Low Risk Drinking Guidelines

Low Risk Drinking Guidelines (commonly referred to as the LRDGs), recommend that healthy people who decide to drink:



In Canada, a standard drink contains 13.6 grams of alcohol. That is the amount in:


* 341 ml or 12 oz of beer or cooler (5% alcohol)







* 142 ml or 5 oz glass of table wine (12% alcohol)



* 85 ml or 3 oz of fortified wine such as sherry or port (18% alcohol)




* 43 ml or 1.5 oz of spirits (40% alcohol)



Higher strength beer (e.g. 6, 7, or 8% beer), higher strength coolers and overproof liquor will contain more than 1 standard drink.



The Low Risk Drinking Guidelines also note that some people should not use alcohol at all. Others should limit their use to less than the maximum amounts. That includes

The Guidelines point out other groups who should probably avoid drinking:



Please Note

The amounts of drinks suggested in these low risk guidelines are intended to help people cut back to safer levels. They are not to encourage people to increase the amount of alcohol they are drinking.


Also the guidelines are set for people who are healthy. If you are older, are slender, have health problems or are on medications, the safe amount to drink is probably much less than these guidelines.



The guidelines also advise that:

- people should not start drinking alcohol because they think it might protect them from heart disease. The guidelines recommend
using less risky alternatives such as exercise, better nutrition, and quitting smoking.
- people who choose to drink can achieve any health benefits with as little as one drink every other day.
- people seeking help for a drinking problem should follow the advice of their counsellor or health professional looking at what is best for them.


The Alcohol Policy Network has prepared a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about alcohol and heart health, including:
1. Should I be drinking red wine?
2. What do the Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines say?
3. What is the link between alcohol and heart health?
4. Should I start drinking to improve my health?
5. If I drink, but not every day, should I consider becoming a more regular drinker?
6. What if I decide to have all my drinks in one night?
7. What should I do if I am considering a change in the amount I now drink?
8. What if my doctor tells me to drink?
9. It seems every week there's a news article on the benefits of alcohol. Where can I find credible research on alcohol and heart health?
10. Can you recommend resources to educate health professionals, the media and the public about alcohol and heart health? 
For more information on the Guidelines and these FAQs, please see the LRDG Action Pack on APOLNET,



Easy Ways to Help Stay

Within the Low Risk Drinking Guidelines at Home

If you drink alcohol:

  • Measure your drinks. Buy yourself a shot glass and use it to measure your liquor. They are often available very inexpensively in a dollar or loonie store. Avoid free-pouring your drinks. More is not better.


  • Know what size your wine glass or beer glass is. A standard wine glass holds about 8 ounces of liquid if filled to the brim. So fill the glass just over half full to have 5 ounce serving.


  • Don't keep on topping up the wine in your glass. It makes it harder for you to keep track of how much you are drinking.


  • Avoid drinking in front of the television set. It is too easy to lose track of the amount you are drinking over the course of the day or night.  Also for smokers, it is very easy to fall asleep with a cigarette burning when sitting in that easy chair, creating an increased risk of fire, injury or death.




(c) 2003 Charmaine Spencer, Seeking Solutions





Page last updated Sunday October 31, 2004

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