In the past, alcohol consumption for those with insulin issues (the millions dealing with overweight/obesity, metabolic syndrome, PCOS, pre diabetes, and type 2 diabetes) was considered a “no- no.”
Alcohol has always been considered high in empty calories and full of sugar. It has been presumed to hasten the complications of weight related medical issues. The millions of adults with metabolic issues were advised to abstain from alcohol.
Well…time and knowledge marches on. Presently, mild alcohol consumption is typically allowed on low carb diets (with physician approval based on individual medical history).
How many alcohol containing drinks per day is considered mild consumption?
Occasional mild alcohol consumption does not have a marked negative effect on blood glucose for those with type 2 diabetes. The recommendations for alcohol consumption are the same for those with or without a diagnosis of diabetes: women should not drink more than one drink per day and men should not exceed two daily drinks.
One drink is considered:
1.5 ounces of distilled spirits such as gin, vodka, or whiskey
5 ounces of wine or champagne
12 ounces lite beer.
Aren’t carbohydrates the main ingredient in alcohol?
It’s true that the main ingredient in alcoholic beverages is carbohydrate…but the story does not end there.
Wine = grapes
Vodka = potatoes or grain
Gin = juniper berries
Whiskey = corn or rye
Beer = wheat
Scotch = malt
Bourbon = corn
Tequila = agave
Rum = sugar cane
Since alcohol is made from carbohydrate, it will wreak havoc on blood glucose, right?
Surprisingly, in the process of manufacturing alcohol; through either distillation or fermentation, the liquid’s chemistry changes from carbohydrate to alcohol. Oddly, alcohol does not follow the metabolic pathway of carbohydrate; it follows the metabolic pathway of fat. Just as fat does not have a great impact on blood sugar, neither does alcohol. So, most wine is not considered to be carbohydrate. Neither is rum, whiskey, gin, or Scotch!
My blood sugar won’t skyrocket after having alcohol?
Remember not to mix alcohol with sweetened mixers. The alcohol itself will not cause an immediate rise in blood sugar….but a mixer of regular soda or margarita mix sure will!
When alcohol is consumed, the liver takes a break from releasing glycogen (sugar) into the bloodstream and takes on the role of detoxing alcohol from the blood. During this detox time, blood sugar may actually drop! Once the liver is through cleansing alcohol from the blood, it will resume its self-feeding function by releasing glycogen stores again. This is why blood glucose may be normal at bedtime (after a drink or two), but elevated in the morning after a night of alcohol consumption.
What should I eat before or during a night of drinks?
It is recommended that you eat some carbohydrate/protein before or while you drink. A small amount of cheese and crackers, fruit and cheese, pretzels and dip are good choices in the course of a night when alcohol is consumed to support blood sugar during the time the liver is cleansing alcohol from the blood.
Alcohol can cause low blood sugar?
If you have diabetes and are on medication to lower your blood sugar (oral medication or insulin), make sure to carry something to treat hypoglycemia. 3-4 glucose tablets can treat hypoglycemia (blood sugar under 70mg/dL).
Don’t mix alcohol and exercise as physical activity and alcohol will increase your chance of becoming hypoglycemic if you take diabetes medications.
Alcohol is a diuretic?
Alcohol is a diuretic and causes you to lose more fluid than you drink. If you drink a rum and diet Coke, or vodka and a sugar free energy drink, both the alcohol from the liquor and the caffeine from the cola or energy drink will cause you to lose more fluid than you intake. Remember to drink water before drinking, between drinks, and after drinking to prevent dehydration. Those with blood sugar issues must be careful to remain hydrated.
What can be done to help prevent or treat hypoglycemia caused by alcohol?
For the average person, it takes two hours to metabolize one drink. If you drink alcohol faster than your body metabolizes it, like two drinks within two hours, excess alcohol will accumulate in the bloodstream and reach your brain.
Don’t drive for several hours after drinking as your blood sugar may drop without you realizing it. Hypoglycemia decreases eye/hand coordination and reactions. Check your blood sugar before you drive. It should be 100-120 when you get behind the wheel to drive. Better yet, have a designated driver or cab bring you home after drinking.
If you have diabetes, pull over if you feel hypoglycemia coming on (dizzy, light headed, confused, agitated, cold sweat).
Hypoglycemia and having too much to drink can look and feel the same as the symptoms of low blood sugar can mimic drunkenness. It’s important for emergency personnel to be aware that you have diabetes as they may overlook hypoglycemia if they feel you are intoxicated. If you are going to drink alcohol and you take medication that lowers blood sugar (like insulin, Prandin, Glyburide, Januvia, Glipizide, etc) you should wear a medical ID and/or keep medical ID in your wallet next to your license.
Don’t forget to check your blood sugar before you go to bed for the night. It should be 100-120 at bedtime. If it is lower, eat a snack of carbohydrate and protein.
What are some good drink choices for those with diabetes?
If you are a beer drinker, choose light beer. It is lower in alcohol, calories, and carbohydrate.
Most red and white wine as well as champagne is low in alcohol and very low in carbohydrate. Adding water to make a wine spritzer can cut the alcohol in half.
If you prefer mixed drinks, choose calorie-free mixers like diet soda, club soda, diet tonic water, coffee, unsweetened tea, or sparkling water. Flavor infusers like Mio or Propel drops can also be added to spirits to impart flavors like pomegranate or strawberry for flavored martinis.
You might also squeeze some fresh lemon or lime to impart tang and flavor to water and mixed drinks.
Alcohol is a part of adult life. It is present at parties, celebrations, dining out, visiting friends, a day at the beach, tail gating before the big game. Those with metabolic issues, especially those with diabetes who take medications that lowers blood sugar, must know how to deal with blood sugar fluctuations caused by alcohol. If you choose to drink, drink smart!
Love Diane Kress’ work? Here are links to her books and support site!
The Metabolism Miracle Cookbook: http://www.amazon.com/The-Metabolism-Miracle-Cookbook-Delicious/dp/0738214256/ref=pd_sim_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0DC5FY8CN1D1YH85YNM
The Metabolism Miracle Update: (Brand new!) http://www.amazon.com/Metabolism-Miracle-Update-Revisions-Diabetes-ebook/dp/B00N4IQUF4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1411319947&sr=8-1&keywords=metabolism+miracle+update
The Interactive Support Group for Followers of The Metabolism Miracle and The Diabetes Miracle: www.Miracle-Ville.com
* For a limited time: Sign up for a one year membership on Miracle-Ville.com and receive an autographed hardcover copy of The DiabetesMiracle for free!