Living a healthy lifestyle - The benefits of drinking less

4 minute read time.

As the nights draw in and the weather gets drearier and darker, it can be hard to keep going with a healthy lifestyle. You might find it tempting to drink more alcohol.

But drinking too much can have harmful effects on many aspects of our health. In this blog, our quality and evaluation officer, Rachael, looks at some of the benefits of drinking less.

Alcohol and healthy living
For many people, cutting down or giving up alcohol can:

  • have positive impacts on well-being.
  • make it easier to follow a healthy lifestyle.

Government guidelines now recommend that it is best if both men and women do not drink any more than 14 units of alcohol per week. You can see how much a ‘unit’ is below.

This image is an infographic showing how many units are in different alcohol drinks. It reads A standard glass of wine has two units of alcohol. A pint of lower strength lager or cider has 2 units of alcohol. And a single small shot of spirit has 1 unit of alcohol.

If you regularly drink as much as 14 units, you should spread this evenly over 3 days or more. If you want to drink less, a good way is to have several drink-free days each week.

Heavy drinkers, or people dependent on alcohol, should speak with their GP before cutting down or stopping drinking.

The benefits of drinking less
Whether you’re giving up completely, or just reducing how much you drink, you may notice some benefits. These can sometimes lead to long-term lifestyle changes. The benefits will be different for everyone, but they might include:

  • Keeping to a healthy weight
    Alcohol is high in calories and can lead to weight gain. Drinking less can help you to lose weight, especially if combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise.
  • Saving money
    People often don’t realise how much money they spend on alcohol. Drink Aware has an app that can help you track how much money you are saving by not drinking on a regular basis. 
  • Gaining confidence from your achievements
    Giving up alcohol or reducing the amount you drink might give you the confidence to tackle other challenges, like starting a new type of physical activity or hobby.
  • Increased energy
    While alcohol can help you to fall asleep more quickly, your sleep tends to be interrupted and this can leave you feeling tired the next day. Drinking less alcohol can help you to sleep better.

For more support
If you’re looking for tips about how to cut down on your drinking, we have some ideas on our website. You can also visit the Drink Aware website for information.

We have a range of resources on healthy living that you might find helpful. Visit the be.Macmillan website to find out what’s available.

You can download or order our information free of charge.

You can also use our Directory of Information Materials for People Affected by Cancer. It has details of over 1,900 booklets, leaflets, books and audiovisual materials for people affected by cancer. It is regularly updated and you can use it to search for our resources and those from other organisations. 

This image shows the front covers of three of our booklets on healthy living, Healthy eating and cancer, Physical activity and cancer and Managing weight gain.


To see what else Macmillan's cancer information team has been blogging about, please visit our blog home page! You can subscribe to receive our blogs by email or RSS too.

Whatever cancer throws your way, we're right there with you.

The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

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