How much is too much? Based on your body type, it may be less alcohol than you think. When ingested alcohol moves from the stomach to the small intestine, it is absorbed into the blood and distributed throughout the body. Because the process of alcohol absorption happens so quickly in your body, even the smallest amount of alcohol can affect your central nervous system.
Once in the bloodstream, alcohol dissolves into the blood and body tissues. How much water your body is carrying has an effect on the amount of alcohol you’ll absorb, as the more water a body holds, the faster the alcohol will be dispersed. On average, people with larger statures tend to have more body water and thus a higher tolerance for alcohol. Adversely, a smaller person has less body water to absorb any ingested alcohol, which means that the alcohol will stay in his or her bloodstream for a longer period of time.
Because women tend to be smaller and carry less body water than men, they may be more susceptible to the effects of alcohol. Women also have less alcohol dehydrogenase, a group of enzymes used to break down alcohol and prevent approximately 20% of the ingested alcohol from entering the blood. Someone with lean muscle mass has more body water and a greater chance for alcohol to be dispersed, resulting in a lower Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). Even if two people are the same weight and height, the one with more body fat will have the higher BAC. On average, women tend to have more body fat than men, and can thus have higher BAC.
Metabolism also plays a big role in alcohol absorption. The average person can process one drink per hour, whereas a heavy drinker may process three drinks in the same amount of time.
There is no guarantee as to how quickly your body can process and eliminate alcohol, so preparation should always be your key to optimal safety. If at any time you do not know your BAC, use a tool like Alcomate AL 7000 to make sure you’re not at risk.