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drinking with diabetes; hand pouring liquor into glass with diabetes monitor over green background

Drinking Alcohol with Diabetes: Tips and Low-Carb Options

Drinking alcohol with diabetes is generally not recommended. The alcohol has hidden sugars and carbs that can lead to unstable blood sugar levels, like spikes and dangerous crashes once the alcohol is finished metabolizing. But if you are going to drink with diabetes, you can be smart about it. Here are some tips and low-carb options.

How drinking affects diabetes

While alcohol may cause blood sugar spikes, it can also cause hypoglycemia where the blood sugar drops to dangerous levels, usually during the middle of the night while you’re sleeping. Alcohol also stimulates the appetite which could encourage you to make poor food choices while drinking.

Excessive drinking can increase triglycerides and blood pressure, and more importantly, it can interfere with diabetes medication like insulin. If you’re going to drink while managing diabetes, be sure to be aware of the calorie and carb contents of the alcohol you’re drinking so you can properly manage your blood sugar.

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Tips for drinking alcohol with diabetes

  • Always eat food before you drink; never drink on an empty stomach!
  • Drink in moderation; experts recommend one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
  • Drink slowly; shots are not recommended.
  • Stay hydrated! Drink one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you have.
  • Avoid sugary mixed drinks, sweet wines, and liqueurs.
  • If you need a mixer or chaser, opt for water, club soda, diet soda, or sugar-free energy drinks.
  • If you go out drinking, wear a medical bracelet or necklace indicating your diabetes.
  • Test your blood sugar before, during, and after drinking alcohol.
  • Allow your blood sugar to run a little high while drinking to avoid dangerous low later.
  • Avoid dangerous middle-of-the-night blood sugar crashes by eating something high in fat and moderate in carbs before bed.
  • Set a middle-of-the-night alarm to check your blood sugar.

Low-carb alcohol options

If you’re going to drink alcohol with diabetes, stick to low-carb options like hard liquor and dry wines. Beer tends to have the highest carb content, but here are a few relatively low-carb options.

infographic of low-carb beers

Before you drink, talk to your doctor about what alcohol you can drink, how much you can have, and how to best manage your diabetes when you’re drinking.