Can Diabetics Drink Alcohol?

Just because you have diabetes, doesn’t mean you have to give up alcohol. But keep in mind, many health professionals recommend all adults avoid or limit alcohol.

If you do drink, follow these guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

Men: No more than two drinks per day.

Women: No more than one drink per day. Zero if pregnant.
Over 65: No more than one drink per day.

Mixing Alcohol with Diabetes

If you do drink and have diabetes, it’s important to understand how alcohol can impact your blood sugar levels. But before you grab a cold one, or pour a glass of wine for a toast, you should know not all alcohol affects your blood sugar level the same.

Beer - Most beers contain 10 to 20 grams of carbs, per 12-ounce serving. Beer typically causes a slight increase in blood sugar, then slowly returns to normal over 4 to 8 hours. Be aware that some beers contain much higher amounts of carbs.

Wine - Most wines contain 0 to 5 grams of carbs in a single serving, and won’t have a major impact on blood sugar levels. But if you drink more than two glasses of red wine, blood sugar levels may rise.

Hard Liquor - Pour it straight from the bottle, and hard liquor is typically a zero-carb, alcohol-only drink. And it can cause a slight decline in blood sugar levels. Where you need to be careful is drinking hard liquor mixed with other ingredients like soda or sweeteners.

Low Blood Sugar from Alcohol

If you’re going to drink, you should be aware of how alcohol impacts your blood sugar levels. When you drink, your liver has to focus on processing the alcohol, which means blood sugar levels can drop significantly. And that can lead to a dangerous condition called hypoglycemia, which anyone with diabetes wants to avoid.

Safe Drinking for Diabetics

If you have diabetes, you can still drink alcohol, if you choose. Don’t drink on an empty stomach. A Diabetic-Friendly meal with carbohydrates and fat is best before you drink. Check your blood sugar level before and after you drink. And never drink and drive.