Pints of Gold Medals
Booze. Hard stuff. Juice. Liquid courage. Alcohol. It’s got plenty of nicknames, but what is it actually? What does it mean when a bottle says it’s 80 proof? The answer is that proof is twice the amount of the percentage of alcohol. To compare, whiskey is 40 percent alcohol while wine has up to 16 percent. But, you’ll get the same amount of alcohol from either choice at your favorite watering hole.
There are different types of naturally occurring alcohols in the world, but the type we know and love is called ethyl alcohol, which is made by fermenting grains and fruit. Blood alcohol content (BAC) is the concentration of alcohol in your blood expressed as a percentage or decimal.
To help you better understand BAC and how it affects your body, let’s take a look at some of the USA’s Olympians. As the adage goes, a person is a person no matter how athletic!
Gabby Douglas, Michael Phelps, and Joe Kovacs walk into a bar. (Obviously not in the good ol’ USA because Gabby Douglas isn’t old enough to drink in this country quite yet.) They all have a couple drinks after the Opening Ceremony, but who can drive home? Let’s break it down.
A few things factor into a person’s BAC level: their sex, weight, height, rate of consumption, and amount of consumption. Let’s say our 3 champions all have 3 beers over the course of 90 minutes. Remember, it’s illegal to drive with a BAC level of 0.08 in all 50 states.
Gabby, a petite woman at 4’11’ and 90 pounds, would be super clumsy with poor judgement and memory with a BAC level of 0.12.
“What if Gabby drinks coffee before hitting the road?” While this will keep her awake long enough to drive, it won’t change the effect of the alcohol on her body. Not to mention that she’ll be too wired to sleep before the uneven bars event on Sunday!
Mikey P is a lean machine at 6’4” and 194 pounds. He feels a little loose with a BAC level of 0.05, but he gets bold and orders 2 more beers before driving 30 minutes later.
“But he had a huge cheeseburger with his beers, so he’s probably fine.”
No way, dude! Food actually doesn’t lower your BAC level, contrary to popular belief. The food delays the rate of absorption, meaning it’ll take longer for Michael to reach his peak BAC. He may not feel it when he leaves the bar, but he’ll have an impaired ability to assess risk once he is driving.
Joe, a hunk of man at 6’0” and 276 pounds, only has a BAC level of 0.04 after the three beers.
“But Joe can totally hold his liquor, he can get even three more beers! That guy is a rock.”
Not a thing. Just because someone is fit or drinks alcohol all the time does not mean their BAC level is less affected. They may not exhibit traits like slurred speech or impaired motor skills, but they still won’t pass a breathalyzer test, making it not safe to drive.
Lastly, no alcohol is safer than another. How alcohol affects you depends on the alcoholic percentage alone. A 5 ounce glass of wine has the same amount of alcohol content as a 12 ounce beer. If our olympians went to a wine bar instead, it would be the same story!
Nobody is invincible when it comes to alcohol and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Get the cab or call a friend so you can win the gold medal for alcohol safety!
Wanna know what your personal BAC levels look like? This virtual bar can help!