Best Alcoholic Drinks for Diabetics

Looking to celebrate Valentine’s Day with an alcoholic libation? Trying to decide on the best type of alcoholic beverage to serve at your game day party? Or simply wondering if you can even drink alcohol if you have diabetes? Before you decide, it’s a good idea to understand how alcohol can impact your diabetes, and, if you choose to drink, how to drink safely.

Risks of drinking alcohol

When you drink alcohol (no matter the type), your liver kicks into gear to process, or metabolize, the alcohol. By doing so, however, the liver is unable to make and release glucose into the bloodstream. That doesn’t sound like a problem if you have diabetes, but if you haven’t eaten for a while and you also take insulin[1] or certain types of diabetes pills, you run the risk of hypoglycemia[2] (low blood sugar). Also, alcohol can affect your blood sugar for up to 12 hours later, according to Johns Hopkins University[3].

Another potential pitfall of drinking alcohol is that if you happen to have hypoglycemia while you are drinking, your symptoms can make it seem that you’ve had too much to drink. The danger of this is that others around you may not realize that your blood sugar is low and that you need assistance.

Always check with your health care provider about drinking alcohol. They may advise you not to drink (or at least limit the amount that you drink) if you have certain health conditions, including:

To get cutting-edge diabetes news, strategies for blood glucose management, nutrition tips, healthy recipes, and more delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletters[8]!

Everything in moderation

The American Diabetes Association[9] and the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans[10] urge moderation when it comes to drinking alcohol. Moderation means:

A “drink” is:

Best alcoholic drinks for diabetics

The best type of alcoholic beverage depends, in part, on what you enjoy drinking. If your tastes run to wine or champagne, consider:

Go easy with sweet wines, which include Port, Riesling, Moscato, Sauterne, and ice wine, as these contain more sugar than drier red and white wines.

If beer[12] is more to your liking, you might consider a light or low-carb beer. Light beers are brewed in a way as to lower the calories and carbs. Most regular beers contain about 15 grams of carb per 12 ounces; a light beer contains about half as many carb grams, and maybe even as few as 2 grams of carb per 12-ounce serving. Some light beers to consider include:

What about no- or low-alcohol beer? It can be an option if you have diabetes and want to skip the alcohol, but you’ll need to keep an eye on the carbs: some brands may only have a few grams of carb, but other can have close to 20 grams per serving.

If a cocktail is more up your alley, steer towards mixed drinks made without fruit juice, regular soda, milk, or ice cream. Here are some options to consider:

There’s always the option of drinking a distilled spirit on its own, either “neat” or “on the rocks” (which means with ice cubes added).

Unfortunately, most alcoholic beverages don’t list the nutrition information or ingredients on their labels, since they’re not required to do so. That’s because alcohol is under the purview of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Labels are optional, but not required. The best way to find out the calorie and carb info on your favorite wine, beer, or mixed drink is to do a search on the internet — the websites[13] and[14] are good places to start.

Staying safe

Besides drinking responsibly and never drinking and driving, keep these other tips in mind:

Want to learn more about diabetes and alcohol? Read “Drinking and Diabetes: Seven Facts to Know,”[18] “Diabetes, Alcohol, and the Holidays: Tips to Stay Safe,”[19] and “Can People With Diabetes Drink Beer?”[20]

  1. insulin:
  2. hypoglycemia:
  3. according to Johns Hopkins University:
  4. triglyceride:
  5. Peripheral neuropathy:
  6. High blood pressure:
  7. Overweight:
  8. sign up for our free newsletters:
  9. American Diabetes Association:
  10. 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans:
  11. heart disease:
  12. beer:
  15. sulfonylureas:
  16. treatment for low blood sugar:
  17. CGM:
  18. “Drinking and Diabetes: Seven Facts to Know,”:
  19. “Diabetes, Alcohol, and the Holidays: Tips to Stay Safe,”:
  20. “Can People With Diabetes Drink Beer?”:

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Disclaimer of Medical Advice: Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information, which comes from qualified medical writers, does not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs.