HomeRiskWiseWhat is safe level of alcohol consumption for Indians?

What is safe level of alcohol consumption for Indians?

Find out ‘how much’ and ‘how often’ in  terms of common Indian drink sizes!

If consumed in low/moderate amounts and safe conditions , drinking alcoholic drinks can stay as a recreation/fun activity with friends. But alcohol abuse can disrupt your health, family life/work life and even lead to fatal accidents!

Therefore, if you drink alcohol,  you should understand  ‘the standard drink size’ and ‘low risk drinking’ defined in terms of numbers of standard drinks per day or per week. But there is no risk free or absolutely safe drinking!

We have based our recommendations on WHO guidelines;  WHO defines low risk drinking for men and women as less 10 drinks or less  in week (2 drinks on average/day, but two alcohol free days in a week).

Also, alcohol is a significant source of calories in your eating out: one standard glass of wine, pint/can of beer or ‘large’ whiskey will give you nearly 130-140 calories, equal to a can of coke, and cocktails can give as much as 500 calories in one go, so take care to count them in your meal when thinking of calories

Here is a table showing how to keep to ‘low risk drinking limits’ and watch alcohol calories

Drink Standard drink size (WHO definition= 10 gms of alcohol)  Common order sizes Low risk drinking Calories in common serving sizes
Beer (5%w/v strength) 250 ml=

3/4th pint=

40% of bottle

1 pint or can= 330 ml= 1.3 drinks

1 bottle=650 ml=2.5 drinks

If you drink 1-2 times in a week or less

For men: no more than 2-3 pints or nearly 1.5 bottles

Women: 1.5-2 pints or  less than one bottle

On any single occasion (,6 standard drinks for men and less than 4 for women)

For men: No more than 4.5 pints or nearly ~2.25 bottles

Women: No more than 3 pints or 1.5 bottles

1 pint has ~ 140 calories

1 bottle has 275 calories

Hard liquors (Whiskey, rum, vodka etc.), strength 40% w/v ~ 30 ml=

one small

peg/shot

1 small = 30 ml

1 large = 60 ml

If you drink 1-2 times in a week 

For men: 3-4 small

Women:  2-3 small

On any single occasion

For men: No more than 6 small or 3 large

Women: No more than 4 small or 2 large

1 small (30 ml) has 64 calories

1 large (60 ml) =128 calories

Wine (12% w/v) 105 ml 1 small glass= 125 ml= 1.25 drinks

A standard glass= 150-175 ml= 1.5-1.7 drinks

1 large glass= 250 ml= 2.5 drinks

A large bottle = 750 ml= 7.5 drinks

If you drink 1-2 times in a week

For men: no more than 2-2.5 standard glasses

Women:  no more than  1.5 standard glasses

On any single occasion

For men: No more than 3.5 standard glasses or half a bottle

Women: No more than 2.5 standard glasses or 1/3rd bottle

1 small glass: 85 calories

large glass: 180 calories

Cocktails Usually contain 2 standard drink= 60 ml of hard liquor 1 cocktail For men: 2 such

Women:  1 such

Varies as per ingredients

check out the

table

Even low risk drinking can be harmful if you:

  • Have medical problems such as heart rhythm/rate problems, persistent pain, liver problems or psychiatric/mood disorders
  • Are on drugs for medical conditions, since some of the drugs interact with alcohol
  • Have a parent, sibling or other blood relative who suffers from alcohol addiction (the risk of addiction increases with family history)
  • Drive or operate machinery under the influence of alcohol
  • Alcohol has a permissive effect on other substance abuse such as smoking and illicit drug use, especially in young people

Find out whether you are at risk of alcohol dependence/abuse. ALSO, read about harmful effects of alcohol on the body

Do not get confused by different definitions of ‘standard drink size’!

Definition of one standard drink and limits for low risk drinking vary across countries, because of their population characteristics and cultural preferences. For India, the WHO definitions are more valid because of our smaller build on average than westerners and low traditional consumption levels.

The Indian authorities such as NIN, ICMR etc. have not come out on any guidelines on consumption of alcohol, but many guidelines including WHO, NIAAH (USA) and NHS (UK) exist which vary in how they define one ‘standard drink’ of alcohol.

WHO ‘standard’ drink= 10 gms of ethanol

NIAAA ‘standard’ drink= 14 gms of alcohol

NHS ‘standard’ drink= 8 gms of alcohol

We have based our recommendations on WHO guidelines;  WHO defines low risk drinking for men and women as less 10 drinks or less  in week (2 drinks on average/day, but two alcohol free days in a week). However, the US (NIAAA) and UK (NHS) agencies are a bit more liberal in case of their men, as per them

FOR MEN

  • Drink less than 20 standard drinks ( WHO ‘standard’  drink sizes) in a week AND less than 6 on any given day. However men with low weight/BMI should keep to the limit of 10 standard drinks per week

FOR WOMEN

  • Drink less than 10 standard drinks in week AND less than 4 on any given day

FOR BOTH

  • Have at least two alcohol free days in a week

Also read : harmful effects of smoking and how to quit smoking

CHECK OUT: Our references for recommendations on diet

93 Comments

  1. rajesh
    August 16, 2017 at 1:34 PM — Reply

    I am about 51 yr old male and consume about 5-6 bottles of beer in a month. i have slight problem of hypertension but not on any medication. is it safe to consume this amount. no family history of alcoholism though all male members consume once a week. pls advise

    • August 22, 2017 at 12:36 PM — Reply

      Dear Rajesh,
      Thanks for writing in to us. Your drinking seems to be under control. Take care to not have more than 4 pints/ cans of beer on any given day and you should be fine

  2. atul
    August 22, 2017 at 3:43 PM — Reply

    i drink 180 ML whiskey twice in a week is it safe ..
    i have High LDl/HDL ratio..
    kindly suggest

    • August 22, 2017 at 4:39 PM — Reply

      Dear Atul,
      Thanks for writing in.180 ml whisky is 6 standard drinks. Having 6 standard drinks in one sitting is not considered safe. In fact if you consume 6 drinks within 2 hours that amounts to binge drinking, which can put you at risk of hepatitis, pancreatitis, alcohol poisoning etc. Cut down by two drinks in one sitting ( have 4 or less, at max 5).
      Also, make sure to eat something before you start drinking

  3. September 6, 2017 at 9:53 AM — Reply

    I am 30 years old, i have epilepsy problem last 10 years(just 5,6,stokes) still i am using eptain-100mg and nexito forte tablets daily, is i am eligible for drinking beer or breezer, if i eligible please prefer which one, i don,t know English fluently please understand. reply please.

    • October 9, 2017 at 11:36 AM — Reply

      Please discuss with your doctor. Not prudent to advise you without meeting and seeing your records.

  4. September 21, 2017 at 12:39 AM — Reply

    Hii.. I drink daily at least 90ml of whiskey
    Is it safe if its not how much amount should i cut down my drinking habit

    • October 7, 2017 at 11:06 AM — Reply

      You need two drink free days at least in a week
      Also, you need to keep your total drinking in a week below 14 standard drinks. One small is one standard drink.
      Do not have more than 5 drinks in one sitting ever
      And last piece of advice, read the article on ‘alcohol abuse’ to make sure you are not getting there!

  5. Sachin
    October 2, 2017 at 9:47 AM — Reply

    I use to drink 2 pegs of rum in a week its good for health ? or wt and please suggest me that which drink can i for healthy body

    • October 9, 2017 at 11:39 AM — Reply

      You do not need to drink for healthy body. Some reports say that 1-2 drinks ( 30-60 ml) a few days a week help in heart health. But that is dependent on so many other factors such as your BMI, yours and family history of addiction potential etc. So, I would not advise to think in terms of drinking for health, rather drink in controlled manner, as you seem to do!

  6. Minakshi
    October 7, 2017 at 6:03 AM — Reply

    My husband drinks 2 bottles of beer on every weekend.. He is 29 years old.. Is it safe?

    • October 7, 2017 at 11:03 AM — Reply

      2 bottles of beer means nearly 5.5 standard drinks. So, its OK, if he does not consume it in a binge, meaning all of it in one sitting, with 2 hours
      Of course, I assume he is otherwise healthy

  7. Anant
    October 8, 2017 at 8:36 PM — Reply

    is 4 large drink of whisky or 375 ml of vodka is fine on single sitting in time span of 2 month or more?

    • October 9, 2017 at 11:34 AM — Reply

      4 large is 8 standard drinks. So this much in one sitting is ‘Binge drinking’ which puts you at risk for alcoholic hepatitis, pancreatitis, alcohol toxicity etc. Not safe!Keep it below 6 standard drinks in one sitting, ideally four!

  8. SANJAY DASGUPTA
    October 12, 2017 at 12:22 AM — Reply

    I am 33 year old male.I drink 2 bottle(650ml) strong bear(8% alcohol) at a time once a week, (per week only saturday). It’s good or bad, pls suggest.

    • November 1, 2017 at 11:16 AM — Reply

      Its slightly above the recommended (which is less than 4-5 standard drinks in a setting). Try and take 1.5 bottles instead, eat before drinking and take your time, do not rush it.

  9. ABC
    October 15, 2017 at 5:14 PM — Reply

    I drink 180 ml of low grade whisky everyday and I consume in less than 30 minutes. This is going on for the last three years. Is it safe to have safe pegs of 60 ml a day.

    • November 1, 2017 at 11:14 AM — Reply

      60 ml a day is much better than 180 ml/day. If you can make two days per week alcohol free, that will really help

  10. Vicky
    October 15, 2017 at 8:37 PM — Reply

    Before i was a hard core drinker of whisky had liver problem but was treated by medicines. I stopped drinking totally after for 4 to 5 yrs. Now i have started drinking beer once a week but i drink atleast 3 cans of beer 500ml. But take time like 2 hrs to cosume it with snacks. Is it ok for me or should i stop it.

    • November 1, 2017 at 11:13 AM — Reply

      Your chances of alcohol dependence/ addiction are high. Please stop now, when you can!

  11. Ajinkya
    October 27, 2017 at 11:45 PM — Reply

    Hey, i am 25 years old male. I drink 180 ml of whisky once in a month, you can say occasionally. But not even 10ml more than that. Is it safe.? I drink it in one setting but once in a month or at the max twice.

    • November 1, 2017 at 11:12 AM — Reply

      6 small qualifies as binge drinking, which is risky. Try to keep it to 4 small or 2 large in a sitting

  12. Aki
    October 31, 2017 at 4:49 PM — Reply

    Hello doc. I m 24 years old and i drink 3 large peg of whisky daily is it safe in future or i should quit?

    • November 1, 2017 at 11:11 AM — Reply

      Hi AKI,
      Definitely not safe. Keep total drinks in a week to less than 14 small

  13. Anup
    November 3, 2017 at 1:12 PM — Reply

    Hello Doctor….I m drinking 180 ml of rum everyday evening n then a good dinner since two years n was not having any problem..But from last few days I feel pain to right side in abdomen suddenly after having food ..what you suggest??

  14. Yogesh
    November 27, 2017 at 6:09 PM — Reply

    Hai, I am 39 year old. I used to have a 90 ml magic moment vodka drink 3 to 4 time in a week at the time of dinner. Is it ok also suggest what type of food should I took at the time of drinking vodka

    • December 11, 2017 at 4:15 PM — Reply

      Keep in mind that the food should not add too many calories, but do not starve yourself. You are sitting at borderline of low risk drinking, do not increase it anymore!

  15. Suresh
    November 27, 2017 at 11:28 PM — Reply

    I take 6 large pegs (Whiskey) for 3 days in a week and 4 days are alcohol-free days. I consume the drinks in about 3-4 hrs with some non-veg snacks.

    • December 12, 2017 at 5:24 PM — Reply

      This is very high alcohol intake, which is a risk factor for liver disease. 4-5 small in one day, maximum 6 small is what you should aim for.

  16. Suresh
    November 27, 2017 at 11:32 PM — Reply

    6 pegs per sitting for 3 days. 2-3 days I will do a little exercise for 30 mins each day. So how bad it is..? Do I need to cut down the number of drinks or increase the workout time to 1 hr each day to avoid any major health issues? I’m 33 yrs old now>

    • December 11, 2017 at 4:13 PM — Reply

      Try to keep the number of pegs to 3-4. Exercise more if you like, but that will not take away the risks of heavy drinking, although it helps in many other ways

  17. Ram Raj
    December 1, 2017 at 8:41 PM — Reply

    Mam
    I think i drink 180 Ml of whisky per day .my wieght is about 50kg kg. Pls prescribe me the right suggestion.
    Thanks

    • December 11, 2017 at 4:11 PM — Reply

      As you will see from the article this is not safe drinking at all. Try to make two days drink free and keep it 90 ml/day as a start. Also, see your doctor for liver and nutritional deficiency assessment etc.

  18. Aku
    December 8, 2017 at 11:37 PM — Reply

    Hello doctor, my husband consumes 3 small pegs of whiskey everyday. This is going on for the past 1 year. And I could see a drastic weight gain in him. He tells me that it’s moderate drinking and it’s under control. Is he on the right track?? Or shud this be controlled??

    • December 11, 2017 at 4:09 PM — Reply

      There should be at least two drink-free days a week and number of drinks per week should stay say than 14. Also, your husband is getting extra calories due to the drinking session. So as a first step reason with him to keep at least two drink free days every week

  19. Jinay
    December 10, 2017 at 3:23 AM — Reply

    Just drink 1 large 60 ml once a week when you are little bit tired. No need to drink more. You will be sleeping nicely. Exercise daily 30 minutes a day just regular walking and no junk food will keep you healthy through your life.

  20. Elam
    December 15, 2017 at 8:57 PM — Reply

    Hello Hi,

    I drink daily 180 ML of rum daily .I think try to stop everyday but can’t, I work for more than 12 hrs everyday, so after my work i drink Please suggest to reduce or stop .

    • January 4, 2018 at 10:22 AM — Reply

      Dear Elam,
      You need to see a doctor face to face to discuss options for supporting your attempt to quit. There are options such as therapy, drugs, support groups etc. available, which the doctor will help you with

  21. Shaily
    December 17, 2017 at 1:58 AM — Reply

    Hi! I am 31 and was detected with DCIS in left breast 7 months back. Had a mastectomy and reconstruction of the the same. Have been in Tamoxifen since then, 10 mg twice a day. However I had asked my doctor about alcohol consumption, to which he said I can have occasionally in moderate qty. I either drink beer or wine. Please define moderate qty for both. I usually drink once a week. Pl advise!

  22. raja
    December 22, 2017 at 7:31 PM — Reply

    180 ml brandy says 42 % aclochol, which means 72ml of alcohol, which is 2 standard drink. Is this correct? or you calculate the entire 180ml as 6 standard drink?

  23. Tania
    December 23, 2017 at 4:08 PM — Reply

    Helli doctor i only take a pint of beer daily plus a exercise for half an hour daily. Is it safe?… I have cintrol over my calories also

  24. Pankaj Sahlot
    December 25, 2017 at 8:12 PM — Reply

    Can any person drink 330ml beer bottle at a time in a week…

    • January 18, 2018 at 1:41 PM — Reply

      If they are healthy and have not had previous problems with alcohol abuse, may be ..

  25. Nalina
    December 25, 2017 at 11:34 PM — Reply

    Sir pls help me my husband consume alcohol weekly 4 times with more then 120 ML pls give any tablet to stop drinking

  26. Pankaj
    December 26, 2017 at 9:43 AM — Reply

    Can any person drink 330ml beer at a time in a week

  27. Pankaj
    December 26, 2017 at 12:33 PM — Reply

    can anyone drink 330ml beer at a time in a week.

  28. Raj
    December 31, 2017 at 12:47 AM — Reply

    Hi,

    Is 2 to 3 standard peg of Scotch drinking 2 to 3 times in a month mostly in a gap of a week is it safe ?

  29. Ajay
    January 2, 2018 at 12:44 AM — Reply

    Hello sir my age is 31,plz suggest me
    Since last 3 years i drink beer 3 cans of 500 ml mild beer’2 times a week is it safe for long lasting health?

    • January 4, 2018 at 10:13 AM — Reply

      3 cans= 13.*3= 4.9 standard drinks, best to keep it below 4 drinks in one day, so may be you should stop at two!

  30. Amit Gulati
    January 3, 2018 at 1:07 AM — Reply

    Hi Doctor,

    In extreme winters conditions i take 15ml single shot of brandy in 1 cup of luke warm water. Daily is it good.

  31. mukesh
    January 6, 2018 at 9:29 PM — Reply

    Hi doctor
    I’m taking 150 ml wishkey on weekends.

    This is good for health or shall I reduce the quantity.

    Regard

    Mukesh

  32. Sat Parkash
    January 7, 2018 at 10:32 PM — Reply

    Hello doctor
    Is it safe to take alcohol at the age of 16

    • January 10, 2018 at 4:40 PM — Reply

      No! Not only is alcohol itself harmful so early in life but also it makes youngsters partake in other risky behaviors such as drunk driving, trying out other substances of abuse and unsafe sex. At 16 one does not have strong inhibitory and self preserving control mechanisms. Wait for a few years at least!

  33. harshit
    January 13, 2018 at 2:50 AM — Reply

    Hey doctor
    I drink beer very occasionally like ones in a month (or twice at max) with my friends…we usually pick 2-3 pints but sometime it exceeds to 5-6… i finish that up in 2-3 hours…
    Is it safe or should i just quiet…

  34. sahil
    January 13, 2018 at 5:31 PM — Reply

    Hi doctor

    Im 17 year old and i drink 180ml whisky in after 15 day

    Is it good for health … pls suggest me

  35. Sandeep
    January 16, 2018 at 6:21 PM — Reply

    Hi Doctor,

    I am 44 year old men , and i have High LDl/HDL ratio..aroung 280, i take 180 ml thrice in a week, please suggest

    • January 18, 2018 at 1:40 PM — Reply

      180 ml is six standard drinks. In one sitting up to 4 , ideally 2 (60 ml) are ow risk

  36. Shiv
    January 16, 2018 at 11:37 PM — Reply

    I drink 360ml of total alcohol in Saturday and Sunday is it safe drinking…

  37. viswanath
    January 17, 2018 at 4:27 PM — Reply

    hi sir

    I drink bombay safire gin 90ml twice a week . Some times i feel pain in muscles . I am 57 year old. Is is it safe to drink this much. kindly advice.

  38. Trailokya
    January 21, 2018 at 9:27 AM — Reply

    Hello Mdm,

    I am 42 years old. I consumed 180ml of alcohol daily for about one year between 2007-2008. Thereafter I rarely drank till 2014. Since 2015, I started drinking but only on weekend i.e. friday (excepting occasions which is rare enough). Even on Friday, I restricted consumption alcohol to 180 ml.

    Now, I feel that even this small quantity makes me more ebriated than before. Simply I am loosing my capacity to consume. May I please know the possible reason including weakening of organs etc. for such capacity reduction.

    Your reply in this regard willbe highly appre iated.

    • February 22, 2018 at 5:29 PM — Reply

      180 ml is 6 standard drinks. In one sitting, this is not good. Keep below 120 ml. Good thing you are losing capacity. Mostly it can happen if one drinks after a long interval. Not to worry about that. But You should get a preventive health check up done, in any case!

  39. Sachin
    February 1, 2018 at 1:39 PM — Reply

    Hi, I am drinking 1 bottle of beer Monday Tuesday and Friday Saturday two 60 ml whisky on each day. Taking medicine for high BP Telisar AM and Rosiva F for cholestrol. And metelor 25…is it safe drinking.. I put 3 days gap in a week.

    • February 22, 2018 at 5:31 PM — Reply

      It is not safe drinking! Two 60 ml is 4 standard drinks+ 1 beer (330 ml) is 1.3 drinks. So in total more than 5 drinks a day on 4-5 days is more than 14 standard drinks per week ! You need to cut down

  40. Raghu
    February 3, 2018 at 9:39 PM — Reply

    I’m raghu, how many drinks of red wine is healthy a day

    • February 22, 2018 at 5:41 PM — Reply

      Controversial! Its not that you need to start drinking wine for heart health. But if do drink, keep it 1-2 small glasses/day and keep at least two days gap

  41. Rajani
    February 4, 2018 at 7:28 PM — Reply

    Hello doctor,
    My husband drinks weekly…he is 27..he has a history of valve replacement during childhood(he had recurrent fever following which surgery was prescribed,no other information is known)no other problems regarding the history till date…is it safe for him to drink…if yes plz mention the amount he can.

    • February 22, 2018 at 5:41 PM — Reply

      Best to check with his doctor. In general, occasional 1-2 drinks should be OK.

  42. Khan
    February 10, 2018 at 8:26 PM — Reply

    Hello doctor.. I use to drink 180ml every day 2 large in evening and 1.5 in morning form almost 2 years. I faced some heart burning issuse early and recently had alcoholic gastritis with blood in vomit.kindly advise safe level of consumption and food for me.

    • February 22, 2018 at 5:33 PM — Reply

      Need to stop drinking and get your preventive health check up done. Best to consult a doctor and get a detailed plan for alcohol risk management

  43. Vijay
    February 11, 2018 at 7:55 AM — Reply

    Hi,

    I drink 6 beers(650ml) a day for 3 days in a week and 4 alcohol free days..Am a vegetarian.

    I plan to cut down the days but not quantity. Please help

    Vijay

    • February 22, 2018 at 5:34 PM — Reply

      Not sure how I can help! Six bottles of beer in a day is too high! Binge drinking can lead to acute alcohol toxicity, hepatitis etc. So I would advise to also cut down the quantity

  44. Amit
    February 15, 2018 at 10:18 PM — Reply

    I used to drink occasionally. Then i got fatty lever. Now i do not drink. I want to know if i can drink 30 ml per day 4 days a week. Thanks..

  45. guru
    February 19, 2018 at 8:21 PM — Reply

    Hi,

    I’m 20yrs old
    drinking how much of rum or whiskey is safe??
    like twice a month?

  46. PeeKay
    February 20, 2018 at 11:35 AM — Reply

    I am 40+ male and used to have drink mouthful neet (Whisky, Rum & Vodka; whatever is available in my almirah) 1 or 2 times in a week. Is it harmful to gulp neet liquor according to Indian Atmospherically Situation??
    Plz suggest..

    • February 22, 2018 at 5:39 PM — Reply

      Well, I hope you do not gulp multiple mouthfuls! The total quantity f alcohol matters most. Also, do not do the neet thing on empty stomach to avoid gastritis

  47. Kennb
    February 22, 2018 at 3:46 PM — Reply

    I used to drink a bottle of beer twice in a week. But when I came to know bilirubin content as 2.36 and high LDL/HDL ratio on 25th Dec’2017, I stopped drinking since 1st Jan’2018. Can I restart drinking a pint/bottle of beer in the weekend?

    • February 22, 2018 at 5:39 PM — Reply

      Need to know your complete LFT report and ultrasound abdomen before commenting. Best to see a doctor

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