Why should you drink less alcohol?

Alcohol contains a lot of kilojoules (energy) so it can easily contribute to weight gain. Like sugar, alcohol has ‘empty kilojoules’ because it contains few nutrients for the body to use. Also when you drink alcohol, you become less aware of the food you are eating and can easily overeat. The current Australian Guidelines recommend no more than two standard drinks per day for women and for men. You should also have one or two alcohol free days per week.

What is a standard drink?

The amount of alcohol in a can, bottle or glass of an alcoholic drink is often expressed in terms of standard drinks. This term can help you measure the amount of alcohol you consume and help you drink at safe levels. For example:

Alcoholic drink

Standard drinks

100ml of white wine (11.5% alc. vol.)


30ml (one nip) of spirits (40% alc. vol.)


285ml (one middy) of full strength beer (4.8% alc. vol.)


425ml (one schooner) of low strength beer (2.7& alc. vol.)


275ml bottle pre-mixed spirits (5% - 7% alc. vol.)

1.1 – 1.5

Do you know what a standard drink looks like?

Learn how many standard drinks are in common glasses on the Your Room website 

For more information or to find out how many standard drinks are in your preferred alcoholic drink, refer to the Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol 2009. 

If you want to lose weight you should drink a lot less than these guidelines and where possible, do not drink alcohol at all.

Tips to help you reduce your alcohol intake?

  • Drink water instead of alcohol and use it to quench your thirst.
  • Sip alcoholic drinks slowly.
  • Keep track of your drinks (remembering the serve sizes tend to be large in restaurants)
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with water.
  • Enjoy wine spritzers (wine and soda or mineral water).
  • Switch to light beer.
  • Wait until your glass is empty rather than topping it up when it’s half full.
  • Be the designated non-drinking driver on some social occasions.

For more information:

  • Your Room
  • Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) NSW operates 24 hours, 7 days a week to provide education, information, referral, crisis counselling and support. Call 1800 250 015 for support.

Alcohol and Pregnancy

According to the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Guidelines[1], for women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, not drinking is the safest option.

Why give up alcohol?

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. It may also cause foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) in the unborn baby, affecting brain development, physical development, learning and behaviour. There is no cure for FASD and its effects last a lifetime.

After birth, the babies of alcohol dependent mothers can suffer withdrawal symptoms, including tremors, irritability and fits.

Alcohol and breastfeeding

According to the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Guidelines1, for women who are breastfeeding, not drinking is the safest option.

Alcohol gets into your breast milk from your blood, moving freely from the blood to the breast milk[2]. It can reduce the milk supply, and can cause irritability, poor feeding and sleep disturbance in the baby. You should avoid alcohol in the first month after delivery until breastfeeding is going well and there is some sort of pattern to your baby’s feeding.

A number of factors affect how much alcohol gets into your breast milk, including:

  • The strength and amount of alcohol in your drink
  • What and how much you’ve eaten
  • How much you weigh
  • How quickly you are drinking.[2]

If you are breastfeeding and plan to consume alcohol, it is best to plan ahead.

  • Drink no more than two standard drinks per day (after your baby is a month old)
  • Breastfeed before you drink alcohol.
  • If you wish to drink alcohol, consider expressing milk beforehand.

For more information:


Talk to a Get Healthy Service Health Coach on 1300 806 258 or start your journey here! Alternatively you can ask your GP or Allied Health Professional for a referral to the Get Healthy Service at your next appointment.


[1]National Health and Medical Research Council (2009) Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines-publications/ds10

[2] Australian Breastfeeding Association (2014) Alcohol and breastfeeding: a guide for mothers. https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/system/files/ABA_Alchohol_BF%2520for%2520website.pdf

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