Women, if you find it takes you fewer drinks this New Year’s to feel just as “loose” as your male friends, there is an explanation. And it has little to do with size.
Research shows men and women of the same height and weight consuming the same amount of alcohol will metabolize it differently. Simply put, women get drunker faster.
Laura Picciano, with Hahnemann University Hospital, says one of the contributing factors is that women have less of an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase.
“What this does is take the alcohol and convert it into an inactive substance and women tend to have lesser of this,” she said “If there’s somebody who basically does a lot of heavy drinking, of course, they will have revved up these levels, but for the average woman who consumes some social beverages this is obviously less than men.”
Picciano says elevated estrogen levels can also mean a woman will get intoxicated quicker. This includes women taking oral contraceptives or those a few days before their menstrual period.
At Temple University Hospital, Sara Sirna cautions women who want to “hold down their own.” When it comes to drinking, she says, men and women are inherently unequal and there is nothing you can do about it. Some of the reasons are natural. Consider body fat.
Women “have a larger proportion of body fat than men do and fat can’t absorb the alcohol,” she says. “So the alcohol actually concentrates and stays in the blood stream longer in women than it does for men.”
While eating before drinking isn’t new advice, Sirna says foods high in protein are especially important for women to slow down alcohol absorption.