Alcohol related questions

  1. Why does boy weight affect intoxication? I can see why tallness might be a factor - higher metabolism, bigger liver. But it seems to implied that for two people of the same height, the one with more fat will take more alcohol to reach the same intoxication. Why would fat cells affect this?

  2. The conventional wisdom seems to be that 1 beer = 1 glass of wine = 1 shot. But I tend to find that it takes 2 or 3 shots to attain the same intoxication as a glass of beer. Why is this?

  3. How does tolerance work? Wiki implies that you’ll still achieve the same BAC, but it’s just the symptoms that will be lessened. How does that work? Does abstinence cause tolerance to recede? How long does that take?

I’ll take a shot

  1. For illustrative purposes, think of a skinny guy as being 1 litre of water and a fat guy as 2 litres of water. You then add 10ml of alcohol to each guy. The skinny guy now has 1010ml of total fluid, 1% of which is alcohol, the fat guy has 2010ml of fluid with 0.5% being alcohol. IOW, they both have the same absolute amounts of booze in their system, but the relative alcohol concentration is twice as high in the skinny guy as compared to the fat guy. Higher concentration means the effects are felt more.

  2. That’s weird - I would expect the shot to affect you more as you are taking a higher dose in shorter amount of time.

  3. Tolerance works because the your liver will build more of the alcohol metabolizing machinery if it is constantly exposed to alcohol (or other drugs), so someone who drinks a lot can metabolize it faster. This effect does go away somewhat if a heavy drinker abstains, how fast I can’t say. Anecdotally, it appears to happen quite rapidly.

I had the impression though that the alcohol is pretty much either in the stomach, liver, or bloodstream. I wouldn’t imagine these taking up a lot more volume in a fat person. Does the alcohol migrate to the fat cells and interstitial fluid areas?

A fatter person will have more blood volume.

Body fat isn’t very vascular- not many blood vessels run through it. A 165 lb fat guy will get drunk easier than a 165 lb body builder.

To elaborate, fat needs blood supply (it’s not highly vascularized, but there is some). Fat makes the skin stretch and grow, which needs more blood supply. A *lot *of fat requires more muscle to haul it around, which needs more blood supply. A body will grow more blood vessels and more blood (cells, plasma) to support the fat. Fat people don’t have simply more fat, they also have more blood.

Body Weight and Body Type

"In general, the less you weigh the more you will be affected by a given amount of alcohol. As detailed above, alcohol has a high affinity for water. Basically one’s blood alcohol concentration is a function of the total amount of alcohol in one’s system divided by total body water. So for two individuals with similar body compositions and different weights, the larger individual will achieve lower alcohol concentrations than the smaller one if ingesting the same amount of alcohol.

However, for people of the same weight, a well muscled individual will be less affected than someone with a higher percentage of fat since fatty tissue does not contain very much water and will not absorb very much alcohol." from here:


“Body Weight/Body Type – The less you weigh, the more you will be affected by a given amount of alcohol. For people of the same weight, individuals with a lower percentage of body fat will have lower BAC’s than those with a higher percentage of body fat.” from here:

Carbonation increases the rate of absorption (generally [note:link may or may not work for you]). It takes longer for your body to absorb the hard liquor even though the alcohol content is greater. Try comparing 1 beer with a strong rum and coke.