If you have diabetes, drinking alcohol may be safe for you as long as you choose the right types of drinks and consider alcohol’s effects on your blood sugar levels.
Diabetes causes lower-than-normal production or function of insulin — the hormone that helps control your blood sugar levels — so blood sugar management is important (
In addition, alcohol consumption may excessively raise or lower your blood sugar levels, depending on the drink and whether you have eaten recently (2).
Studies suggest that moderate intake of alcohol — especially red wine — is associated with health benefits in people with diabetes. But heavy drinking may interfere with some medications and increase the risk of diabetes-related complications (2,
The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans define moderate alcohol intake as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men (7).
Here’s what one standard drink looks like (7):
- 12 fluid ounces (360 mL) of regular beer (5% alcohol)
- 5 fluid ounces (150 mL) of wine (12% alcohol)
- 1.5 fluid ounces (45 mL) of 80 proof distilled spirits (40% alcohol)
This article lists 10 types of alcohol that are most appropriate for people with diabetes, based on carb content, as well as a few drink types to avoid.
Here are some of the most popular low-carb beer options.
1. Miller Lite
Miller Lite is an American-style light lager made with barley malt and corn syrup, among other ingredients.
However, it contains only 3.2 grams of carbohydrates in a standard 12-ounce (360-mL) can or bottle, compared with 12 grams for the same serving in regular Miller beers (10).
According to online consumer reviews, people also think it has a great aroma and flavor. Thus, it may be a popular choice during hot summer months.
2. Coors Light
Coors is another of America’s favorite beer brands. It also has a low carb version suitable for people with diabetes.
Like Miller Lite, Coors Light is an American-style light lager. It provides 5 grams of carbs per 12-ounce (360-mL) bottle.
In contrast, standard options, such as Coors Banquet, provide almost 12 grams of carbs per bottle (10).
Reviews often describe this beer as refreshing, easy to drink, and not too filling due to its lower carb count.
3. Bud Lite
Bud Lite is another low carb beer that provides fewer than 5 grams of carbs per serving.
Bud Lite is known for being slightly sweet. However, some consumer reviews say it tastes a bit bland.
Busch beers are good alternatives for people with diabetes due to the low carb content of most of the brand’s products — including their beers that are not branded as low carb.
For instance, a 12-ounce (360-mL) serving of regular Busch contains just 7 grams of carbs, while the same serving sizes of Busch Ice and Busch Light provide 4.2 and 3.2 grams, respectively (13, 14, 15).
People also seem to enjoy Busch beers on hot summer days.
Low carb beer is a better option than regular beer for people with diabetes who want to enjoy a cold brew now and then.
Here are two types of wine with low carb counts.
5. Red wine
Plus, it provides only 3.8 grams of carbs in a standard 5-ounce (150-mL) serving (
6. White wine
White wines are often regarded as high sugar drinks. However, their carb content can be virtually the same as that of red wines.
For instance, a standard 5-ounce (150-mL) glass of white wine also provides 3.8 grams of carbs (
Among white wines, Champagne may be a particularly good choice if you’re trying to keep the carb content to a minimum. However, this depends on the style of Champagne — dry and brut varieties are low in sugar.
For example, a 5-ounce (150-mL) serving of extra-dry champagne provides 1.7–2.5 grams of carbs. Brut and extra-brut champagne in the same serving size offer fewer than 1.7 grams and fewer than 0.8 grams of carbs, respectively (23).
Aside from having a low carb content, red wine may lower the risk of diabetes-related complications if consumed in moderation. White wines, especially some types of Champagne, also generally have a low carb count.
Distilled spirits or hard liquors contain few to no carbs. However, you should be aware of the potential for hypoglycemia, also called low blood sugar levels, when consuming them.
This may happen because your liver can’t maintain basal blood sugar levels while also metabolizing alcohol. This may lead to excessively low blood sugar — and even more so if you drink on an empty stomach (2).
Here are some possible distilled spirit options.
7. Gin, rum, vodka, or whiskey
These liquors contain 0 grams of carbs per 1.5-ounce (45-mL) serving (
However, the carb content of your drink may vary depending on what you mix the liquor with.
Avoid mixing liquor with sugary juices or sugar-containing soda. If you do drink these with alcohol, your blood sugar may spike and then dip to dangerously low levels.
When consumed on their own, hard liquors provide 0 grams of carbs but may lead to very low blood sugar levels. Avoid drinking them on an empty stomach or mixing them with sugary drinks.
Make sure to go for low sugar options if you feel like having a cocktail.
Here are some of the best low carb cocktails.
You make a martini by mixing gin or vodka with dry vermouth in a 2-to-1 ratio and then garnishing it with an olive or a twist of lemon peel.
Since it doesn’t contain juices or other mixers, it contains 0.2 grams of total carbs in a 4-ounce (120-mL) drink. This makes it a good choice for people with diabetes — provided you drink it in moderation (
9. Vodka soda
As its name implies, you make a vodka soda by combining vodka and club soda.
As long as you use club soda or seltzer, your drink’s carb count will stay at 0 grams (
However, the carb content may rise significantly if you mix vodka with tonic water — which has 32 grams of carbs per 12-ounce can — or a sugar-containing soda (
If you’d rather have a flavored version, go for flavored sparkling water instead of flavored vodka, which may contain added syrups.
10. Bloody Mary
You make a Bloody Mary by mixing vodka and tomato juice with different sauces and spices, depending on the recipe, and typically serve it with a celery stick.
People often think of this as a “healthy” cocktail due to its vegetable content. It has a carb count of 7 grams from the tomato juice (
If you’re making a Bloody Mary, opt for a variety of tomato juice without added salt to lower its sodium content. A high sodium intake may lead to high blood pressure (
People with diabetes may also enjoy low sugar cocktails. Again, avoid those with added sugars in the form of fruit juice, syrup, or regular soda.
While there are some diabetes-friendly cocktails, such as the ones mentioned above, traditional cocktails are generally very high in added sugars. Therefore, try to avoid them unless you’re making them yourself.
Dessert wines, such as vermouth, port, and sherry, are also high in carbs. As the name of these drinks implies, people typically serve them after a meal (
The same goes for cream liqueurs such as Bailey’s Irish Cream and Kahlua. These provide around 13 grams of carbs, of which 12 grams are from sugar, for every 2 ounces (60 grams) of liqueur (
Lastly, aside from taking into account your drink’s carb content, try to follow these practices when drinking:
- Eat beforehand to avoid drinking on an empty stomach.
- Avoid drinking if your blood sugar is low.
- Monitor your blood sugar regularly before, during, and after drinking.
Avoid drinking traditional cocktails, dessert wines, and cream liqueurs, because they’re generally high in sugar.
The best types of alcohol for people with diabetes are those with a low sugar or carb content.
That includes light beers, red and white wines, distilled spirits, and low carb cocktails, as long as you avoid sugary juices or syrups.
On the other hand, traditional cocktails, dessert wines, and cream liqueurs tend to have higher sugar counts, which may spike your blood sugar levels.
Regardless of which type of alcoholic drink you choose, remember that it’s not just sugar that interferes with your blood sugar management. The alcohol itself does too. Thus, you should drink in moderation and follow the practices listed above.
Certain diabetes medications, such as insulin and sulfonylureas, can increase your risk of hypoglycemia, and alcohol further affects that risk. If you’re taking medication, talk with your doctor about whether and how you can safely drink alcohol.