His vs. Her Drinking Habits

Ladies, you're more likely to sip wine than he is. Stick to one glass, please.

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When it comes to alcohol, men are bigger drinkers, but women may be catching up — especially the married ladies. Here's how to keep the Chianti in check and drink to your health.

MEN

He loves his brewski. Whether it's a can of PBR or a bottle of Blithering Idiot ale, beer is the go-to for 53 percent of men, according to a Gallup poll. Bring on the bar nuts: Drinking gives him the munchies. He downs an additional 168 calories from food and other nonalcoholic beverages when he drinks, research shows. Not a bad idea, since eating while sipping blocks the absorption of alcohol, blunting its negative effects. But he should swap out the fries for grub with protein and healthy fats, like peanuts.

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Getting hitched curbs his boozing. Forty-three percent of guys have binged (five or more drinks in two hours for men and four or more drinks in two hours for women) in the last year, as opposed to 29 percent of women. One thing that lowers his consumption: marriage, says research from the University of Cincinnati. Married men drink less compared with all other guys. But if he gets divorced, he starts imbibing an added eight drinks a month.

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His body is designed to handle more. It takes about three drinks for him to get a good buzz, while you're starting to feel tipsy by the second. His stomach has higher levels of an enzyme that metabolizes booze, but he still needs to be careful, especially because the alcohol content of beer has skyrocketed in recent years, going from just 3.2 to 5 percent or even as high as 9 percent in some brews,cautions Victor Hesselbrock, PhD, scientific director of UConn's Alcohol Research Center.

WOMEN

It's wine o'clock for her. Fifty-two percent of women rate vino as their drink of choice — an 8 percent rise over the past 20 years — with liquor (24 percent) coming in at second. Wine is a smart pick: It packs more disease-fighting polyphenols than beer does. It's best in small amounts on a regular basis, even daily — alcohol's heart-healthy, anti-blood-clotting benefits last only 24 to 48 hours, says R. Curtis Ellison, MD, scientific codirector of the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research at Boston University.

Saying "I do" increases her drinking. Unlike men, wedded women imbibe more — about three extra drinks a month — in an effort to keep up with the hubs. You don't have to binge to run into problems. Downing more than one drink a day erases health benefits; and, says Hesselbrock, if you have more than seven a week, you're at greater risk of alcohol dependency and diseases like breast cancer.

The buzz hits you harder. Don't go pinot-for-lager with him. You're more likely to get woozy because you're smaller and have a higher percentage of body fat, which doesn't metabolize alcohol as well as muscle does. And, like beer, today's wine has a higher alcohol content; it jumped from 11 or 12 percent to around 15 percent within the last decade. Plus, wine glasses are practically goblet-size, so it's easy to pour more than the recommended 5 ounces.

This story originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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