T Nation

Body Weight and Alcohol Tolerance


I got into a friendly drunken disagreement with my roommate about factors that influence alcohol tolerance.

I was under the impression that there was a high correlation between bodyweight and tolerance but my roommate who is a biochemist argued that there was little to no correlation.

He believes that the single largest determining factor is liver function/enzyme production which he concedes can be improved with a protein rich diet.

Anybody have thoughts on this?


Actually hes a biology major, who worked as an organic chemist. That's probably substantially different than a biochemist.

Also hes a smug bastard about this sort of thing and the shame he would feel about being wrong about this would do him a world of good in my opinion.


I think it's absolutely correlated to lean body mass. If you're twice as big, your cells are only exposed to half the concentration and you only get half as drunk. THEN there are a ton of other factors.

I've found that drinking with lighter people is a great way to notice when to stop drinking :slightly_smiling:


The California DMV seems to think there is a correlation between body weight and alcohol tolerance.



That makes sense to me. However he argued that it is the volume of the brain that is significant. That drunkeness is in the brain much more than the body.

And thinking about it, I know some pretty hefty guys that are total lightweights. I think he may be right that genetic predisposition to produce the right amount of enzymes and diet are key factors, but I would still like to show that in general, heavier guys have greater tolerance.


Good stuff. Hes tricky though. I really have to understand the methodology to trap him.


Logic fail on his part. Alcohol is distributed in the whole body, not just the brain. Therefore, one fifth of vodka in Kai Greene will lead to a lower alcohol concentration in the blood that one fifth of vodka in Justin Bieber.

This is still true. And since Bieber has a much higher alcohol concentration in his blood, it will affect his brain more and he will get drunker.

Feel free to refer to a cartoon medical student on a bodybuilding forum, I'm sure he'll be very impressed.


Yes, he also argued that blood volume was more or less equal for people of different sizes at around 7.5 L. I have already found evidence that people with morbid obesity have greater blood volume.

Just when I need Professor X.


There is indeed some sort of enzyme (sorry not a scientist) that either is or is not present in Asians (LOL sorry not a scientist) there was a big bruhaha when UC Berkeley randomly tested its applicants for this enzyme as part of an experiment... maybe that is what he's thinking of?

There ARE other factors that influence tolerance as far as ability to function under the influence. Namely, repeated exposure to alcohol. Regular and heavy drinkers have a higher tolerance. Thus the idea of drinking someone under the table. However, as a not scientist, I'm pretty sure this doesn't translate to BAC.


Too lazy to look it up, pretty sure formulas for alcohol blood levels have body mass in there as a factor.
So the correlation is def there.
That said though - there are other factors - condition of one's liver is important, for example.


Yeh, asians often lack the gene that codes for the enzyme that breaks down alcohol. I assumed that some of my friends who are hyuuge but not asian have the same problem. For instance I have a friend who is a powerlifter who is about 200lbs who gets gut puking wasted on four hard ciders. I know another guy who is 6'7 240ish lbs who is the same way. These are the guys that sort of support his argument.


I think there's definitely a correlation between bodyweight and tolerance.

I've been a heavy drinker for a long time, but guys who are bigger than me who drink as much can simply handle it better.

When I started drinking, big guys always took longer to get drunk and could drink more overall... several of my friends are able to drink a 30 pack in one sitting, and not one of them are small guys.

Even though I partied with them all equally over the years, there's no chance that I could ever come close to being able to do that.

So my knowledge is mostly empirical, but you're definitely talking about my subject.


Just my opinion and trust me I've done a lot of research on hard boozing.

The number one factor pertaining to tolerance is how much you drink and how frequently.

Example I only drink on weekends. Eight beers and I'm done and thats a lot for me now.

When I drank hard I could put away a case to a 30 pack at 140lbs...

I think larger people do tolerate alcohol better..


I know a dude who is a big time lush, goes about 160, fifty years old. He can drink a case in his sleep, remember our beer is more potent. According to his doctor his liver is in great shape.

He's lean and he's been doing it for years, he's a pro. He's the kind of drunk that can slurr and mumble for hours on end and not pass out.

I also worked with a dude who could drink eight beers at lunchtime(I was with him at the bar) and finish the shift. Again, very lean(175 lbs) and very hyper active. We called him shake and bake cause you never seen him stand with both feet on the ground at the same time lol.

Personally, if I string a few weekends together I can build my tolerance up at the same bodyweight. If I go a few weekends without, I pay the price the next day large lol. Huge hangover and it takes less beer to do the damage.

It takes all kinds no matter what the science tells you. Hard liquor gives me blackouts, especially Sambuca. I don't know what it is about that shit that fucks me up so bad lol.


I personally know a ~120 lb Chinese girl that can drink EVERYONE under the table. It is actually her JOB. You see, in many traditional Chinese business meetings, you get hammered (it's considered offensive if you don't). Every two minutes someone makes a frikkin toast and you have to drink. This chick was hired to do that. She literally drank for a living. I've seen her put away BOTTLES of hard liquor. And she never acted tipsy and the next day she was fine. I think that she got ALL of the enzymes from the other Asian all to herself! LOL

That being said, when I started playing rugby I weighed about a 160. When I was in my prime I weighed about 245. I could drink a LOT more in the third half at a heavier body weight.


Use wikipedia you lazy fuck!

Your searching comprehension sucks.
Is that better?


ha ha. I went straight to pubmed and forgot the old standby. That is better.

Still not cited and doesn't explain the physiology but I think it will do. Now only how to bring it up to the old roommate.


What does Dentistry have to do with getting drunk?


The way I see it so far no argument presented would stand up in any sort of significant "debate".. just cause that skinny girl or huge guy held there alcohol doesn't show anything.

Not that I disagree or agree with one or the other.. never actually cared about this(I just drink.. sometimes a bottle sometimes only a few drinks). But there are a lot of things that are mistaken as far as actual mechanics

ie.. something like the statue of liberty.. the majority of people think its green because of coppers reaction air, water, acid.. etc.. and that copper itself erodes to green but thats not entirely correct(very common misconception).. while copper plays a roll in the process.. when copper erodes it turns black.

Based on what this roommate is saying... he seems to be describing the actual mechanism... while weight may or may not aid it the process it isn't the determining factor(because its more of a odd are?!? type thing maybe?) and therefore in his mind isn't directly correlated.

Thats my take on it.. not sure if everything I said is sound but I think you get the point... if you want to "beat" this guy nothing anyone has so far is beneficial as at least all of them if I'm not mistaken contain at least one fallacy. Hell now even my own post does :stuck_out_tongue:


I heard that dentists are doctors.