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Is Beer Good for Diabetes?
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Is Beer Good for Diabetes?

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 September 8
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5 min

A diabetes diagnosis means altering your diet to manage your condition, but can you still consume alcoholic beverages like beer? We take a look at how beer should be consumed by those with diabetes in this article.

Is beer good for diabetes
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Diabetes is a chronic condition where the body does not respond properly to sugar in the bloodstream. As such, those with diabetes need to follow a specific diet to manage their condition.

This diet usually consists of low glycemic foods, low-carb foods, and foods that are low in saturated fats, refined sugars, and anything processed. But can people with diabetes drink beer?

In this article, we’re going to take a look at whether drinking alcohol, like beer, is good for diabetes, how beer affects blood sugar, and if there is any beer that people with diabetes can consume safely. Take a look now to learn more.

Is Beer Good for Diabetes?

People with diabetes should opt for “light” beers instead of regular ones. Light beer has fewer carbs, calories, and alcohol. 

While drinking alcohol in moderation can be safe for those with diabetes, drinking alcohol can still cause hypoglycemia up to 24 hours later. You should always consult your doctor if you plan to drink alcohol and have diabetes.

In addition to its alcohol content, beer also has a high-carb content. Though the actual value varies depending on the brand and type of beer you are drinking, many people with diabetes avoid drinking beer due to the effect it has on blood sugar levels.

If you do choose to drink beer, you should ensure you don’t do so on an empty stomach and should limit yourself to one drink. As beer cans rarely contain a nutrition facts label, it is difficult to know how many carbohydrates are in the drink, meaning it could adversely affect your blood sugar levels if you drink too much.

As beer has a higher level of carbohydrates than most other alcoholic drinks, you could opt for other beverages, like wine or liquor, instead of beer.

It is important to remember that alcohol can have many negative effects on your general health, including high blood pressure, stroke, and pancreatitis if misused. It is recommended that men only drink two alcoholic drinks per day and women – one drink per day.

Alcohol consumption can be part of a balanced and healthy diet, as long as those with diabetes pay attention to the carb content of the alcoholic drink they choose. Other aspects of a healthy diet could include a low-carb diet, regular exercise, like a morning run or a daily walk, and good sleep.

How Does Beer Affect Blood Sugar?

Beer will initially cause your blood sugar to rise, but once your blood sugar levels begin to drop again, the alcohol in your system may inhibit your liver from turning proteins into glucose. This can lead to low blood sugar or hypoglycemia, which is dangerous for people with diabetes. Those who take insulin need to be extra vigilant to ensure they don’t end up with dangerously low blood sugar levels.

In addition to the alcohol content in beer, your blood glucose levels may also be affected by the carbohydrate content in beer. And finally, alcohol stimulates your appetite, which can lead to overeating and may also impact your blood glucose management.

If you choose to drink alcohol with diabetes, you must speak with your doctor to ensure it is safe for you and will not interfere with any diabetes medications you are taking.

Nutritional Value of Beer

Per 100g, beer contains:

  • Energy: 43kcal
  • Protein: 0.46g
  • Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 3.55g
  • Fiber: 0g

Along with these macronutrients, beer can also offer small amounts of some minerals, including magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. It also contains some B vitamins.

Glycemic Index of Beer

The glycemic index of beer is 100, making it a high glycemic food. Glycemic index and glycemic load refer to the rate at which a food product will affect blood sugar once consumed. High glycemic foods will more profoundly impact blood sugar than low glycemic index foods. This means that beer will have a huge impact on your blood sugar.

Those with diabetes are usually recommended to eat more low glycemic foods, but it is important to note that the glycemic index of a food may change depending on how it is cooked or consumed.

Beer has a high glycemic index because it has a relatively high carb content along with no fiber content. High-fiber foods tend to have a lower glycemic index because the fiber slows the emptying of the stomach and release of blood sugar into the bloodstream.

Eating a lower-carb diet, like the ketogenic diet, may be useful in keeping your blood sugar levels under control. Indeed, the keto diet is thought to have some benefits for those with diabetes.

Is It Safe to Drink Beer if I Have Diabetes?

While it is safe to drink beer if you have diabetes, there are some precautions you should take. You should never consume beer on an empty stomach, and you should limit the amount you consume. You should also drink slowly to avoid a blood glucose spike.

Consuming alcohol does not have any health benefits and could lead to adverse health effects, particularly if binge drinking. Alcoholic drinks tend to be sugary drinks that will have a negative effect on your blood sugar due to the many grams of carbs in them.

All in all, while alcohol consumption is safe for health conditions like diabetes, it’s not recommended.

Which Beer Is Best for People With Diabetes?

The best beers for people with diabetes to consume are light beers. 

Light beers tend to have fewer grams of carbs per serving and have a lower calorie content. These low-sugar beers are more suitable for people with diabetes and will have less of an impact on blood sugar.

It is still recommended that you only have one or two drinks and avoid this drink on an empty stomach as the alcohol content in light beer can still affect your blood sugar.

FAQs

Is beer high in carbs?

Regular beer has a relatively high-carb content and could affect your blood sugar levels. Light beer has a lower number of carbs but could still affect blood glucose. Neither beer has fiber.

Is there sugar-free beer?

There are sugar-free beer options available. These could be a better choice than regular beer for people with diabetes; however, care should still be taken to consume alcohol in moderation.

Can drinking beer cause diabetes?

Alcohol itself does not cause diabetes, but it is thought that heavy alcohol consumption could increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet, getting regular exercise, like cycling or rowing, and only drinking alcohol in moderation are better options for your overall health.

A Word From Our MD

Those with diabetes tend to make several alterations to their diet to keep their blood sugar levels in a healthy range. While you don’t need to stop drinking after a diabetes diagnosis, you have to take more care when drinking alcohol.

Alcohol can harm blood sugar control, causing hypoglycemia, even up to 24 hours after consumption. In addition, many alcoholic products are sugary and carb-filled, making them bad for blood sugar management.

Light beer is a better choice for those with diabetes; however, you should not consume it in excess. Indeed, the ADA recommends only one alcoholic drink per day for women and two for men.

To remain healthy with diabetes, it is best to consume low glycemic foods, products low in saturated fat and refined sugars, and get regular exercise. Good exercise options include long-distance running and walking daily, depending on your ability and fitness levels.

There is some evidence that diets like the keto diet and intermittent fasting could have a positive effect on diabetes management, and as such, you could speak with a registered dietitian to find out how these diets may help you manage your condition.

Conclusion

Those with diabetes need to moderate their alcohol intake. Beer is safe to consume with diabetes but should only be consumed in moderation. With a high-carb content, it can affect your blood sugar quickly. Light beer is a better option but should still not be drunk to excess.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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