Whether you have diabetes or are just someone who likes to watch what you eat, always knowing how much sugar is in a food or drink can be murky at best. So after a family member developed pre-diabetes, I decided to look into the subject of alcoholic beverages, and this is what I learned.
The sugar content of alcoholic drinks varies drastically based on the type of drink. The sugar can range from zero for beverages like beer and vodka to more than 33 g (1.16 oz) for sweet wine. What makes a difference in their sugar content is the mixers included, not the alcohol type.
Read on to get more information about the sugar content of alcoholic drinks you may use, along with a detailed chart with helpful data that gives you a more intelligent choice.
Which Alcohol Has the Least Amount of Sugar?
Different alcoholic drinks contain different amounts of sugar. While most of them have no or low amounts of sugar, some are naturally sweeter. However, not all of them are pure alcohol, and mixers like fruit juices, such as mixed drinks, spritzers, and cocktails, also add sugar to them.
Generally, pure alcohol or hard drinks such as vodka, whiskey, tequila, gin, and rum are absolutely sugar-free. While such drinks have almost no nutritional value, it doesn’t mean that they have no calories at all. For example, vodka has nearly 100 calories per shot or 50 mL.
Although you can consume these drinks straight, they’re sometimes mixed with other ingredients and flavors to balance their taste. That means there is more added sugar that you may want to consider.
Which Alcohol Has the Most Sugar?
Mixed drinks and cocktails like Piña colada have the most sugar content among the common types of alcohol. Just 100 g (3.52 oz) of Piña colada contains about 22 g (0.77 oz) of sugar.
Piña Colada also contains several high-calorie ingredients like coconut cream, coconut milk, and pineapple juice.
What Happens to Blood Sugar After Drinking Alcohol?
We all know the unpleasant symptoms that appear after drinking alcohol, such as a headache, extreme hunger, dizziness, shaking, difficulty in speaking, and lack of coordination. Why do these happen?
After drinking alcohol, your blood sugar goes down, your liver starts to process the alcohol, and won’t be able to work on carbs. It also can’t store or release glycogen into the blood. This situation lasts between 16 to 24 hours after you finish drinking.
This temporary stop in the body’s glucose production leads to a severe condition called hypoglycemia – low blood sugar.
What’s more, most alcoholic drinks aren’t just made of alcohol and have additives that usually add some amount of sugar to them that can significantly increase blood sugar, which follows by a sudden drop.
Does Alcohol Raise Glucose Levels?
As mentioned above, immediately after drinking alcohol, hypoglycemia signs appear, which is why it’s recommended to drink alcohol along with some complex carbs and proteins.
Alcohol does raise glucose levels, especially in those with a balanced diet. Although this spike can be followed by an intense crash or extremely low blood sugar, it will impair blood sugar regulation in the long term.
Plus, according to WebMD, certain drinks, such as beer and sweet wine, can raise your blood sugar because they contain carbs.
Can Type 2 Diabetics Drink Alcohol?
If you have type 2 diabetes but crave alcoholic beverages to drink, don’t get disappointed. The good news is you still can enjoy drinking.
People with type 2 diabetes can drink alcohol, too, as long as they do it in moderation and choose low carb or sugar content drinks. Even some evidence indicates its positive effects on type 2 diabetics. However, moderation is key, meaning one serving per day for women and two for men.
Excessive drinking of alcohol can cause severe heart and circulatory system conditions or lead to metabolic syndrome. Besides, heavy drinking can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes due to obesity and insulin resistance.
According to CDC guidelines, one drink is equal to:
- 12 oz (340 g) of beer
- 8 oz (226 g) of malt liquor
- 5 oz (141 g) of wine
- 1.5 oz (42 g) of spirits, 80 proof (like gin, vodka, rum)
What Kind of Alcohol Can a Diabetic Drink?
Regular alcohol consumption can lead to insulin resistance and even cause hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar. However, one drink with your meal can temporarily lower blood sugar levels.
What people with type 2 diabetes should consider is the type of beverage they drink. They must opt for drinks with low sugar or carbs content. Some like champagne, dry wines, and distilled alcohols have little sugar content; yet, they should be drunk straight or with sugar-free mixers.
Mixed beverages containing added sugar are a definite no-no.
While beers are generally sugar-free, they usually contain a considerable amount of carbs. So, it’s wise to steer away from them, too. As the name suggests, dessert wines are sweet and high in sugar, making them a terrible choice.
Here is a chart that shows the carbs and sugar content of some drinks to compare:
|Name of Alcohol||Sugar||Carbs|
|2 oz (56 g) port wine||20g (0.70 oz)||7g (0.24 oz)|
|12 oz (340 g) spiked seltzer||5g (0.17 oz)||5g (0.17 oz)|
|5 oz (141 g) white wine||1.4g (0.04 oz)||4g (0.14 oz)|
|5 oz (141) red wine||0.9g (0.031 oz)||4g (0.14 oz)|
|12 oz (340 g) light beer||0.3g (0.01 oz)||6g (0.21 oz)|
|12 oz (340 g) beer||0g||13g (0.45 oz)|
|1.5 o (42 g) distilled spirits||0g||0g|
What Beer Has No Sugar?
Beers are popular drinks typically made of grains, yeast, and water, and some spices. While sugar is a necessary ingredient for the brewing process, it’s not added to beer. It’s naturally there in grains and then turns into alcohol – ethanol – due to fermentation.
The main type of sugar in beer is maltose, a simple sugar made of two glucose molecules. These simple sugars are about 80% and fermentable. The remaining 20% in beer are oligosaccharides that your body can’t digest and hence is calorie-free.
The sugar content of beers depends on their initial carbs and the yeast used for fermentation. But manufacturers may add sweeteners like corn syrup to enhance its flavor.
According to Healthline, while regular beer has no sugar content, they have 12.8 grams (0.45 oz) of carbs. Miller High Life, Coors Banquet, Non-alcoholic beer, Heineken, Budweiser, and Busch also have no sugar.
On the contrary, Light and Low carb beers are healthier choices, having no sugar and little carbs. Non-alcoholic ones have the highest sugar.
Does Quitting Alcohol Lower Blood Sugar?
Regular and heavy alcohol drinking can impede your body from regulating blood sugar by causing insulin resistance, leading to a high amount of glucose in the bloodstream. This condition increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Quitting alcohol will lower blood sugar and help your body bring it to the normal level, mainly because of the weight loss occurring after quitting. Besides, hormones such as glucagon and growth hormone secreted in the body regulate blood sugar to the normal level.
Drinking is part of our life, and despite the risks it holds, it can be beneficial in some ways. The double-faced nature of alcohol has always been controversial.
Although moderate alcohol intake seems beneficial for heart and blood circulation, heavy alcohol consumption can be deadly. Alcoholic drinks are mainly made of ethanol and water, but what about their sugar content?
Choose those with the lowest sugar and carbs content if you want to enjoy alcoholic drinks but are worried about your blood sugar levels. Avoid mixers and sweeteners like corn syrup or citrus juices.
Don’t forget to drink moderately and check your blood sugar regularly and consult your doctor as alcohol can interfere with some medications.
Thanks for reading!
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.