New guidelines on alcohol consumption

With Christmas and New Year’s Eve quickly becoming a distant memory it won’t be long until we start hearing just how quickly the year has gone all over again. But not wanting to wish away the year, I am a big supporter of making the most of it. For some that means starting off with Dry January to make up for what we can only assume was a heavy month of drinking in December. 

So it didn’t really come as a surprise yesterday when we all started to hear revised recommendations on what we should be drinking from our nation’s chief medical officers. But what were we actually told that hadn’t been said before? Here are the main points:

  • Both mean and women shouldn’t be consuming more than 14 units of alcohol each week (6 pints of beer or 7 glasses of wine)
  • Pregnant women shouldn’t drink at all
  • Any amount of alcohol increases your risk of getting cancer
  • If done, drinking should be moderate throughout the week over three days or more, with alcohol-free days included
  • No saving up units for a binge at the weekend
  • There are no safe drinking levels, with women over the age of 55 the only demographic to benefit from a small amount of drinking each week (up to 5 units)

There we go, not everything, but the main changes from the original 1995 guidelines. I’ll be honest, my initial reaction was one of, ‘well, duh!?’. We have been hearing the links between drinking and cancer for a while now, so that came as no big surprise. I think if we are being honest we all knew that saving up units was never what the system was intended for. And the advice has always been for pregnant women not to drink, they just set out how much you could have if you absolutely couldn’t bare to go without.

Far more to do with health than fitness, I’m sure you would agree. In fact, no mention on what it is doing to you now but plenty of reference to what the risks are in the future. But these guidelines are for the wider general public, so it would have been a real surprise to see advice on how drinking might affect your one rep max!

For me the best part of it all was eliminating the units per day guideline and replacing it with a weekly figure. I don’t know many people that drink everyday and even less who think that it is a sustainable way to live.

You might have read a previous post I wrote in regards to how alcohol might be impacting your results and if you don’t then feel free to take a look. I was very careful in not saying that everyone should stop drinking full-stop and I still don’t believe that should be the case. But just like with this advice, there is nothing better for your overall fitness than giving it up all together.

Another thing I was glad to see was this issue about when it is actually beneficial to drink. Up until yesterday I thought that if I heard one more person tell me that drinking red wine regularly helps reduce your chances of getting cancer and heart disease I was going to scream. So now that there is scientific evidence to completely refute that claim, it might be a lot easier to convince its advocates (unless you are talking to a 55 year old woman of course!).

That’s what we know now on 8th January 2016. Maybe there will be more discovery and new advice in another 20 years but for now we will have to go on what we are being told.


Ollie Lawrence
Latest posts by Ollie Lawrence (see all)