When you or somebody you love has Diabetes, certain lifestyle choices must be made to ensure healthy living. One of these choices is the consumption of alcohol and the choice of which and how much alcoholic beverages to drink. The purpose of this article is to walk you through the things a diabetic must keep in mind when consuming alcohol, the possible side effects of drinking and some options for low carb alcoholic beverages.
The Effect of Alcohol on the Body and the Somogyi Effect
When you drink alcohol, the liver plays an important role in breaking down the alcohol. However, your liver also plays a role in the regulation of blood glucose levels. If your liver is busy breaking down the alcohol from the glass of wine you just drank, then it cannot do both of these tasks effectively. For every alcoholic beverage you consume, it takes the liver about one to two hours to process the alcohol. While this is taking place, the liver will be busy and cannot regulate blood sugar or the release of glucose into the blood stream.
This may put you at risk for low blood sugar even if the alcoholic drink was high in carbs. And if the drink is high in carbs, then the body may start releasing insulin to counteract the effects of the drink. Your liver cannot effectively counterbalance the insulin’s effect and may lead to further hypoglycemia.
Some scientists believe that even though a person may be experiencing hypoglycemia in the short term when drinking alcohol, they are also at risk for high-blood sugar. When the liver finishes breaking down the alcohol, the liver may try to overcompensate for the insulin that was just released and the body may rebound into high blood sugar. This is known as the Somogyi effect and is believed to be most common among those with Diabetes. However, it is not known how severe the Somogyi effect may be or if it even really exists.
Though alcohol may cause hypoglycemia in the short term, chronic drinking may lead to elevated blood glucose levels, hyperglycemia. This is just not a risk for alcoholics but for healthy individuals as well, and heavy drinking may cause alcoholic liver disease. Those with alcoholic liver disease may become diabetic or glucose intolerant and which could lead to a full case of Diabetes.
Low Carb Alcoholic Beverages
The best bet for low carb alcoholic beverages are distilled spirits which include:
However, if drinking these straight not for you, there are plenty of options for mixers as well:
- Diet and zero-carb sodas
- Sparkling water
- Diet tonic water
- Seltzer Water
- Diet Margarita Mix
Beverages like beer and wine are often very high in carbs, but if these are your preferred drinks then are still a few options. For wine drinkers there is:
- Pinot Noir
- Pinot Grigio
All of these beverages have less than 4 grams of carbs per serving (with Champagne having less than 2 grams per serving). Beer is often much higher in carbs then other alcoholic beverages but there are still a few options:
- Miller Genuine Draft Light 64
- Budweiser Select
- Shock Top Honey Bourbon Cask Wheat
All of these have less than 4 grams of carbs per serving.