Research finds getting regular exercise cannot protect you from the danger of sitting too much

Danger of Sitting Too Much is Getting Worse

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.


If you’re sitting while reading this, you may want to stand up. That advice goes for anything else you now do seated in a chair or on a couch. Research published this month in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics placed the danger of sitting too much right up there with cigarette smoking.

Are you up out of your chair yet?

I’ve written about the “sitting disease” before, but the evidence is mounting that the hazards of sitting for long periods of time are a bigger problem than originally believed. It has even acquired a new term: Sedentarism.

What is Sedentarism and How Do You Get It?

The most important thing researchers have to say about sedentarism is that it is not the opposite of being physically active. That is what sedentary means. People who do not regularly engage in physical activityare sedentary.

Sedentarism is a condition that affects even the most committed exercisers. It occurs when you spend prolonged periods of time sitting or lying down, whether commuting, working at a desk, watchingtelevision, reading or sleeping. If that is how you spend more than half your day, you cannot escape sedentarism by meeting the recommended daily guidelines for exercise.

This unique disease of sustained inactivity is a result of the many changes in what we do at work and in our leisure time.

Since the 1950’s there has been a steady decline in jobs requiring moderate physical activity in the U.S. By 2008, more than 80% of all jobs were considered light activity or sedentary, meaning they are done while seated.

Things have gotten less physically demanding when we’re not at work, too. Washing machines, clothes dryers, frost-free refrigerators, self-cleaning ovens, dish washers and dozens of other work-saving appliances and products have lightened the load at home. The new-found free time has given us more time to sit down and watch television or search the Internet, and endure longer commutes to and from work.

The only problem is all that non-stop sitting is killing us.

What Can We Do to Avoid Sedentarism?

As I said in the beginning of this article, it helps to stand up more often. You don’t have to do jumping jacks, just get out of your chair. The goal is to build more standing time into your day to break-up the long stretches of sitting.

Some people are mounting their computers on treadmills so they can slowly walk while working. If that isn’t likely to go over too well in your cubicle, try some of these ideas.

You can stand at work:

  • Talking on the phone
  • Speaking to someone in the office/work space
  • Reading documents
  • Taking meal and drink breaks
  • During meetings
  • Waiting for appointments

You can stand more at home:

  • During television commercials
  • Text messaging
  • Following friends on Facebook
  • Waiting to pick up the kids
  • In line (at the bank, pharmacy, Dunkin Donuts) instead of using the drive-through
  • Reading mail, newspaper, school/community bulletins

If you’re still sitting, you haven’t been paying attention. This time stand up and read it again!

Two new anti-obesity drugs have been approved this summer giving consumers more help with weight loss

3 Anti-Obesity Drugs Now Available in U.S.

This post was written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the original post here.


After 13 years with only one Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved pill for weight loss available in the U.S., the agency added two more anti-obesity drugs to the arsenal in the past 30 days. Qsymia is the latest.

I covered the Belviq when it was approved last month. Before that, Xenical was the only option. It received FDA approval in 1999, then became available in a lower dose as the over-the-counter drug Alli in 2007.

What does this recent flurry of activity in the world of anti-obesity drugs mean?

To the 68 percent of American adults who are either overweight or obese (that’s more than 23 million people) it means hope. Hope that one of these drugs will help them win the battle they fight every day with overeating. They still have to learn to make better food choices and be more physically active – no pill can replace that – but maybe, just maybe, one of these prescriptions will make it easier.

Obesity is a complex disease with multiple causes. No single treatment will work for everyone. Since each of these drugs functions in a different way, one could be better for you than another.

If you tried weight loss pills in the past and didn’t get the results you expected, you may want to try again. If you’ve been afraid to try them before, keep an open mind. It’s a hard battle to win alone.

FAQ About the Anti-Obesity Drugs

How do they work?

  • Some have a single mode of action, others have a combination of effects. They may:
  • Suppress appetite
  • Increase metabolism
  • Block absorption
  • Increase satiety
  • Stimulate alertness

How much weight can I lose?

FDA approval is based on studies that show weight loss is greater using the drug than can be achieved from just diet and exercise alone. Weight loss varies for each drug and with one’s ability to comply with the diet and exercise recommendations, but range from 5-10 percent.

How long must I take them?

Each of the available drugs must be taken daily to maintain results. They are not a cure, but a treatment that must be continued for the rest of one’s life.

Do they have side effects?

As with most drugs there are risks associated with their use, but when taken as recommended the benefits are expected to outweigh any risks for most people.

Can anyone take them?

Most are approved for adults only. Some are restricted if pregnant, when taking certain medications or if suffering from other conditions. These concerns must be discussed with your physician.

Some related blogs:

  • My post on last month’s anti-obesity drug: New Weight Loss Drug Wins FDA Approval
  • Some thoughts on what obesity is not: Reflections on Obesity and the Weight of the Nation
  • Why obesity isn’t our biggest problem: Metabolic Syndrome is Worse than Obesity


Use these checklists to see if you are developing diabetes

Are You Developing Diabetes?

This post was written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the original post here.


One of the biggest threats of gaining 20 pounds is the increased risk of developing diabetes. Twenty pounds is all it takes to go from a healthy body mass index (BMI) of 21 to an unhealthy one of 25. That is the point on the BMI chart when you are considered overweight.

Being overweight is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes in both children and adults.

Why the Disconnect Between Overweight and Diabetes?

When I was in private practice, many of my new clients who had gained 20 pounds came in saying they didn’t like the way they looked or how their clothes fit — as if that was all that was at stake. When I was writing The Wedding Dress Diet, many of the brides-to-be I talked to admitted they would probably gain 20 pounds after they got married — as if it didn’t matter.

Obviously, the connection between being overweight and diabetes had not hit home because whenever I asked anyone how they felt about getting diabetes, they shuddered. Being a little pudgy was one thing, having diabetes was quite another.

Sadly, the message still has not sunk in. Nearly 26 million Americans now have diabetes and three times that many are pre-diabetic – people with elevated blood glucose levels that are not quite high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. That’s 75 million people who almost have diabetes!

If you or someone you know is concerned about developing diabetes, use the checklists below recognize the risks and warning signs, then get the help you need to prevent or treat it.

Who is At Risk of Developing Diabetes?

  • Overweight or obese with a BMI of 25 or higher
  • Waist circumference greater than 35 inches in men and 32 inches in women
  • Woman who had gestational diabetes or gave birth to a baby weighting more than 9 pounds
  • Low HLD cholesterol of 35 mg/dL or less
  • High triglyceride level of 250 mg/dL or more
  • High blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or greater
  • Family history of diabetes in parents or siblings
  • Low physical activity level of exercising less than 3 times a week

Early Warning Signs of Diabetes

  • Blurry, clouded vision – once blood sugar is lowered, vision returns to normal
  • Increased thirst and hunger – not satisfied after drinking or eating
  • Frequent urination – 20 or more times a day
  • Always tired, weak, fatigued – even after sleeping since cells can’t get the energy they need
  • Sudden, unexplained weight loss –the body is breaking down muscle and fat for energy

Tests Used to Diagnose Diabetes

  • Fasting blood glucose: 126 mg/dL or greater on 2 separate tests. Blood sample is taken after not eating or drinking anything for at least 8 hours, but not more than 16 hours
  • Casual blood glucose: 200 mg/dL or greater. Blood sample used is taken at any time regardless of last meal
  • Glucose tolerance test: 200 mg/dL at the 2-hour reading. Blood glucose is tested after fasting, then a sweet liquid containing a known amount of sugar is consumed and blood glucose is tested periodically for up to two hours.
  • Glycated hemoglobin (A1C): 6.5% or greater. Used to tell blood glucose control over the previous 2-3 months.

Goals for Treating Diabetes

  • Maintain blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible with changes in diet and exercise and, if needed, medication
  • Lose at least 10% of body weight to improve symptoms, maintain a BMI of 25 or less to eliminate diabetes

Dietary Objectives for Diabetes

  • Eat meals and snack at the same times every day
  • Distribute total calories evenly among meals, don’t skip meals or eat just one or two big meals
  • Increase soluble fiber content in meals from oatmeal, oat bran, beans, lentils, barley, flax seed, nuts, apples, pears, oranges celery, and carrots.
  • Control the type of carbohydrates eaten by choosing “whole grain” breads and cereals over refined grains, raw and cooked vegetables and whole fruits instead of juice.
  • Limit the amount of carbohydrate to 45-60 grams per meal, including carbohydrates from added sugars
  • Pay attention to all of the ingredients in “sugar free” foods and those made with sugar substitutes
  • Use healthier fats and oils, such as olive and canola oil, and limit saturated fat and trans fat to reduce heart disease risk

See these related stories on diabetes.

  • Fast Eaters Have Greater Risk of Diabetes Than Slow Eaters
  • A Secret Weapon to Help Control Diabetes: Barley
  • Tired All the Time? 11 Reasons Why (Besides Lack of Sleep)
Older people have an added danger of dehydration when symptoms are misdiagnosed

Hidden Danger of Dehydration for the Elderly


This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the post here.

Staying properly hydrated in hot weather is important for everyone, but the danger of dehydration in the elderly is of special concern. Not only do older adults become dehydrated more easily than younger people, the warning signs are often mistaken for something more serious.

Anyone who lives alone and has limited mobility is at risk of dehydration. The use of multiple medications increases the risk. Now add all those people being cared for by others who cannot communicate clearly and the count gets higher.

Why? They simply don’t drink enough. The primary causes of dehydration for the general population are vomiting, diarrhea, heavy sweating, uncontrolled or undiagnosed diabetes, infections, high fevers, and burns. But for those who can’t, won’t or don’t drink all that they should, dehydration is a dark secret.

Why Some Seniors Don’t Drink Enough

  • Fear of incontinence, especially if taking diuretics
  • Unable to get up out of a chair or bed alone
  • Too difficult or exhausting to walk to the bathroom
  • Difficulty toileting alone – undressing, sitting on commode, cleaning themself, redressing
  • Inability to get food or beverages for themselves or get enough
  • Don’t feel thirsty, especially if inactive
  • Trouble holding a glass or cup to drink for themself
  • Unable or unwilling to ask for help
  • Depression

The danger of dehydration for the elderly is heightened when the symptoms are not addressed because they are so similar to age-related dementia or senility and Alzheimer’s disease. Instead of getting the fluids and assistance with using the bathroom that they need, they may be viewed as incompetent. That is why it is important to monitor fluid intake and excretion in someone with the symptoms below before taking other steps.

Mental Signs of Dehydration

  • Headache
  • Dizziness, especially upon standing
  • Light-headedness
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Irritability
  • Forgetfulness

Physical Signs of Dehydration

  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Thick saliva
  • Dry, inelastic skin – doesn’t relax if pinched
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Low tear production
  • Low sweat production
  • Unexplained weight loss

Functional Signs of Dehydration

  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Tired or sleepy
  • Nauseas
  • Constipated
  • Infrequent urination
  • Dark-colored urine

Both foods and beverages can provide the fluids our bodies need each day. Fruits and vegetables are very high in moisture and may be easier for some people to consume than another glass of water, juice or tea. You can also rely on flavored gelatin, pudding, yogurt, ice pops, sherbet, and soup for added fluids.

Catch up on more news about aging and hydration with these other posts:

Fears of pesticides in produce may keep people from eating recommended servings of fruits and vegetables

Do You Worry About Pesticides in Produce?


This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the post here.

Am I the only one who found it odd that the 2012 report on Pesticides in Produce was released this week, right in the middle of Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month? Stranger still, the report arrived just one day before the start of summer when many people across the country look forward to shopping at their local farm markets.

Talk about taking the spin out of your salad…

Why All the Fuss About Produce?

I do my best to encourage clients and readers to fill up on fruits and vegetables every day of the year, not just in June. The Dietary Guidelines recommend from 5 to 10 servings a day for those with caloric intakes between 1200 and 2400. Yet a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found less than a third of Americans consume even the minimum of five servings a day.

The reasons people don’t reach those goals are as varied as the salad dressings lining their refrigerator doors. Now we have to contend with the latest release of the Dirty Dozen in the produce aisles. That’s a list of the 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residues published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

As a consolation prize, they also identify a list of the 15 fruits and vegetables with the lowest pesticide residues, known as the Clean 15™.

What’s Wrong With the Pesticides in Produce™ Report?

I have two big issues with these lists. First, they undermine the more important objective of getting Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables. There is no single dietary change that can produce more health benefits than reaching that goal. And while the report does encourage people to keep eating produce, that message is lost in the sensationalized coverage of the dangers of the Dirty Dozen™.

My second issue with those lists is that they use measurements of pesticide residue as a sign of a problem without providing any evidence that they pose a risk to our health. Sure, it sounds alarming, but what would be the quality, quantity, and cost of our produce if no pesticides were used?

If you think the answer lies in buying only organically grown produce, you’re in for a surprise. They are not 100% pesticide free, either.

So what can you do? Here’s my check list to help you with your produce purchases.

Getting the Best Value From the Fruits and Vegetables You Buy

[ ] Buy produce in all forms: fresh, frozen, canned, dried and juice

[ ] Change the variety of the fresh produce you buy with the seasons

[ ] Wash everything you buy, even things with a skin or peel you discard

[ ] Limit the use of imported produce since pesticide regulations are different outside the US

[ ] Use organically grown if you are juicing large amounts for daily consumption

What would make it easier for you to eat 5 or more servings of produce each day?

Reflections on Obesity and the Weight of the Nation

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.


While awaiting the heavily promoted premier of the HBO documentary, Weight of the Nation, I took the time to reflect on what I have learned about obesity in my 35 years of experience treating people who are overweight or obese. It just so happens my career spans the same trajectory as the epidemic, but I’m pretty sure I am not to blame!

Much has changed in this country since the mid-1970’s when obesity rates began to soar, and it all matters. But it is also true that no one thing is more important than any other in bringing about this unprecedented weight gain among Americans of every race, class and region.

I cannot offer all the mind-numbing statistics, frightening graphics, and challenging expert opinions of a high-tech television production, but I can tell you some things that need to be said.

What Obesity Is Not

All obesity is not same. Every person who reaches the benchmark to be classified as obese got there in his or her own way. It’s the result of a complex interplay of personal biology, environment, and lifestyle, where no two situations are exactly the same because no two people are exactly the same. This becomes even more apparent as the epidemic spreads around the world.

Obesity is not curable. There are many different factors that play a causal role in developing obesity and there no cure for it. Once you become obese, you must spend the rest of your life treating it or risk becoming even fatter or dying of the chronic diseases that accompany it.


Obesity is not easy to diagnose. Weighing a person and measuring their height is easy. Using those figures to calculate body mass index (BMI) is also easy. But deciding if someone is obese based on their BMI is not. More sophisticated measurements are needed to determine what the percentage of fat is in the body and where it is located to fully understand whether someone is at risk due to their body size and composition.


Obesity is not easy to prevent or treat. The best advice medical science has to offer as a means to prevent obesity is to maintain a state of “energy balance.” That advice is difficult to follow. It requires knowing precisely how many calories you consume every day (over a lifetime) and how much energy you expend every day to offset them. These are intangible values. Once you become obese, you are expected to create an energy imbalance by expending more calories than you take in. Only at this point, your body has a whole new way of dealing with energy that defies the mathematics of using calorie control to achieve weight control.

Obesity is not a plague. Obesity spread very quickly in the last three decades, but it is not a scourge that must be routed out by any means possible. Drastic measures have been proposed to “fix” the way we grow, distribute, and sell food in this country, while the obese have been scrutinized, marginalized, and penalized for their weight. In the panic to find a solution we have lost sight of the fact individuals become obese and it is individuals who need help dealing with it.

I hope I can look back 35 years from now and reflect on all that we learned about obesity to lift this weight from our nation.


Not getting enough sleep is only one reason why people feel tired all the time

Tired All the Time? 11 Reasons Why (Besides Lack of Sleep)

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the blog here.


We’ve all felt exhausted at one time or another, but what if you’re tired all the time? While that’s definitely not good, it may help to know you’re not alone. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control has increased its surveillance of sleep-related disorders in recent years in recognition of the problem.

The issue of inadequate sleep is a national health concern because it is associated with a higher risk of several chronic diseases, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cancer. It also increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents and industrial and occupational errors.

Since no one wants to drag themselves through each day feeling tired and weak, what’s keeping them from getting all the rest they need?

Snoring, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and insomnia are the most common sleep disorders that keep people from getting a good night’s rest. Each can be diagnosed and treated to restore sound sleep to the sufferer and his/her sleeping partner. But many other conditions can leave you feeling sluggish no matter how many hours of sleep you get.

There’s no reason to take feeling run down as the new normal, no matter how long you’ve suffered or how many other people you know who have the same complaint. A simple change of diet or medication may be all that is needed to correct the underlying problem.

11 Reasons Why You May Be Tired All the Time

  1. Allergies – Some food cause sudden sleepiness right after eating them. Allergies to dust, mold, pollen and other things in the environmental can trigger allergic sinusitis, which can cause fatigue.
  2. Anemia – Iron-deficiency anemia is the most common blood condition in the US and a common cause of fatigue.
  3. Thyroid Problems – The thyroid gland regulates metabolism. If it is under active, you will feel sluggish.
  4. Rheumatoid Arthritis – This inflammatory condition can produce extreme fatigue along with pain and joint stiffness.
  5. Diabetes – The cells are deprived of glucose in undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes, so they can’t produce energy.
  6. Depression – The chronic feelings of sadness, worry, and hopelessness that accompany depression can result in feeling sluggish and tired all the time.
  7. Dehydration – When fluids are not regularly replaced, blood volume falls and the heart must work harder to pump the blood the body needs, which can lead to fatigue.
  8. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – There is no known cause for this syndrome which often includes headache, inability to concentrate, and muscle weakness.
  9. Poor Diet – Deficiencies in Vitamins D, B12, and folate or minerals potassium, magnesium and calcium can lead to muscle weakness and fatigue.
  10. Lack of Fuel – Skipping meals or not eating enough can deprive the body of sufficient calories to fuel everyday activities.
  11. Heart Disease – Fatigue while doing things that were once easy can be a symptom of undiagnosed heart disease.

When is the last time you got through the day without running out of energy?

Check these related blogs for more information of feeling tired:

  • Anemia Causes Higher Risk of Death After Stroke
  • The World’s Most Popular Drug: Caffeine
There’s no need to waste leftover food when it can be turned into makeover meals

What to Do With Leftover Food? Create Makeover Meals

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the original blog here.


At one time or another we’ve all had leftover food in our refrigerators and wondered, “Is that still safe to eat?” Maybe we prepared too much for a meal or took a doggie bag home from a restaurant. No matter how it got there, eventually we have to deal with those leftovers.

The dilemma most of us face is having to choose between wasting good food or getting food poisoning. Fortunately, there are some guidelines to help make the right decision.

Identify Leftover Food for Future Meals

There are food safety rules for the correct temperatures and holding times for different foods before they should be discarded. Most cooked foods should not be reused if they have been at room temperature for more than 2 hours, or 1 hour if the room temperature was above 90o F. That includes leftovers from restaurants. So the best time to decide if a food should be kept or tossed is when clearing the table or returning home after eating out.

The foods you can safely keep should be transferred to food storage containers or properly wrapped in food grade paper. The goal is to avoid exposure to the air, leaking of any juices, transfer of odors, and cross-contamination through contact with other foods.

It is never advisable to store or reheat food in the one-time-use containers that they are sold in, such as margarine tubs.

Now all you have to do is label that container so there’s no guessing about its identity. Keep some blank address labels in the kitchen so you can record the date and description of what’s in the container before putting it into the refrigerator or freezer. The 20 seconds it takes you to do that can save you countless hours and dollars should you eat the wrong thing.

Plan Makeover Meals From Your Leftover Food

If you decide how you want to use your leftovers before putting them away, you can save even more time and money. Cooked meat, poultry and fish are the most expensive part of the food budget, so should get your immediate attention to avoid waste.


The quickest option is to just wrap cooked meats in single or double portions and freeze them if there’s little chance you’ll get around to eating them in 2 or 3 days. Another is to cut them into cubes or strips before refrigerating so they can easily be added to a stir fry, folded into a fajita, tossed onto a salad, wrapped in a quesadilla, stuffed into a taco or scattered onto a pizza.

If you know you’ll have the chance to recycle that cooked meat into a makeover meal in the next two days you can prep it for its rebirth in a casserole, curry, soup or stew. By removing the bones and skin, cutting or shredding it and seasoning as needed, you are that much closer to a delicious new meal.

Be sure to check these post, too:

  • 6 Ways to Kill Germs & Bacteria in Your Kitchen
  • Refrigerator & Freezer Storage Chart
New research shows good results when diet drinks are part of overall healthy diet

Can Diet Drinks Be Part of Healthy Diet?

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you read the blog here.


Links between the consumption of diet drinks and health problems have been reported in the past, but no smoking gun has ever been found. Now researchers have uncovered the secret weapon. Eating a healthy diet, with or without diet drinks, lowers the risk for chronic disease.

Does this come as a surprise to you? It certainly doesn’t to me. I have always professed that no single food or ingredient, including diet beverages, is responsible for obesity or the diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and cancer that go with it.

Here’s what the latest study found.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill looked at the dietary patterns of more than 4000 Americans who were between the ages of 18 and 30 when the study began in the mid-1980s. Subjects were classified as having a “Prudent” diet made up of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, milk, fish, nuts and seeds or a “Western” diet with higher intakes of fast food, processed food, meat, poultry, pizza, sugar, and snacks.

Over the course of 20 years, 827 participants in the study developed metabolic syndrome. After considering other risk factors, such as body weight and level of exercise, the researchers evaluated the relationship between the use of diet beverages and the two dietary patterns and the risk of metabolic syndrome. This is what they found.

Those who ate a:

  • Prudent diet with no diet drinks had the lowest risk of metabolic syndrome
  • Prudent diet with diet drinks had a slightly higher risk (2%) of metabolic syndrome
  • Western diet with diet soda had the highest risk of metabolic syndrome

The researchers concluded that their study was observational and does not prove diet drinks have a negative effect on health. But there’s another way to look at the results. Those eating a Prudent diet were more likely to consume diet drinks than those eating a Western diet, which suggests a strong link between diet drinks and healthier diets.

How would you rate your diet over the past 20 years?

The amount of alcohol many people drink is more than they realize

How Much Alcohol Do You Really Drink?

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so I have copied the original blog here.


Drinking beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages can be good for you. But like every other dietary guideline, the benefits are tied very closely to how big the serving is and how often you have it. In fact, when it comes to alcoholic beverages, the difference between the right dose and an overdose can be lethal.

So rather than reviewing the potential health benefits of including alcohol in your diet, I want to deal directly with the issue of quantity.

How much alcohol is in one drink?

A “standard” drink in the United States is one that contains 0.6 fluid ounces of pure alcohol, which is 14 grams. Different alcoholic beverages have different “proof,” or alcohol concentration, so the serving sizes that provide that 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol differ.

Regular beer is only 5% alcohol so you get that “standard” serving of 0.6 grams of pure alcohol in 12 ounces of beer. Table wine is 12% alcohol so a 5 ounce serving of wine will supply 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol. Distilled spirits, or what is commonly called “hard liquor,” are typically 40% alcohol so a “standard” drink of whiskey, rye, or gin is just 1.5 ounces.

How many drinks are in one bottle?

Beer sold in bottles and cans clearly indicates the volume. The most common size is 12 ounces. A pub glass of beer holds 16 ounces, which is also called a “pint” of beer.

A bottle of wine contains 750 milliliters (ml), which is a little more than 25 fluid ounces. That means you should get five 5 ounce portions out of a bottle if you’re drinking “standard” servings.

To see what 5 ounces looks like in your wine glasses, fill a fluid measuring cup with 5 ounces of water and pour it into the different shaped wine glasses you have. That will also help you estimate the amount of wine you’ve been served when drinking it away from home since all wine glasses are not the same.

Another “handy” reference is the “two finger” gauge. That is the amount of wine in a glass that is no higher than the width of your pointer and index finger when put together.

A 750 ml bottle of 80 proof spirits, also called a “fifth,” holds 17 standard servings or 1.5 ounce shots. Shot glasses are not all the same size and most have no indication on them of how many ounces they hold. Their capacity can range from one ounce to three ounces or more. If you want to know how much you’re getting when using your own shot glasses, fill them with water and transfer the water to a graduated liquid measuring cup with ounce and half ounce markings to check the volume.

Since mixed drinks contain more than one alcoholic ingredient, you need to follow a recipe to know exactly how many shots or ounces of each were used. But when you’re out, you’re at the mercy of a fast moving bartender!

Are you drinking more than you thought if you use these standard serving sizes to count your drinks?